Axiom News Journalist Invited to Judge Social Business Competition

Axiom News Journalist Invited to Judge Social Business Competition

Camille Jensen to review student plans for creating employment opportunities in Haiti

Last fall Axiom News journalist Camille Jensen was invited by David Stephens, special advisor to Muhammad Yunus, to attend a university social business competition in Atlanta where she had the opportunity to interview Yunus, a Nobel laureate and renowned social business leader in person.

Several stories on the competition and a blog by Camille followed.

Camille has since been invited to judge a social business competition, also put on by Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Creative Lab. The competition, which takes place May 29, invites DePaul University students to come up with social business ideas for Haiti, with winning plans to receive up to $10,000 in funding.

Camille will be contributing to decisions on which businesses are most likely to create employment for 10 or more individuals in Haiti. Winning plans may also be chosen for their ability to be replicated across Haiti and in other parts of the world.

Axiom News is proud to see one of our own honoured with this opportunity.

We caught up with Camille — a little tricky given she’s based on the Canadian west coast while we’re more central east — to ask a few questions about how this opportunity aligns with her personal mission and what possibilities she sees social business offering both Haiti and other economies worldwide.

Axiom News: In what ways does this opportunity align with your personal values/ways of being and life mission? Do you want to speak for Axiom on that count as well? 

Camille Jensen

Camille: It was through becoming a part of and writing for Axiom News that I have become familiar and passionate about social business and its ability to create major positive change. As adults, we spend a majority of our time at work. It’s also where we collaborate with other people’s skills and talents to achieve a desired outcome. It follows then, that it’s in our work where have the most potential to make an impact. At Axiom News, we believe every organization can have a social purpose related to its core work, and in tapping this, creates benefits for the organization in myriad ways, from employee engagement to customer buy-in.

Axiom News: What are the greatest possibilities you see in this competition for the Haitian economy? Can you dig down and explain what it is about this competition that creates this anticipation for you?

Camille: There are a number of things that energize me about this competition. First off, I’m really excited to learn what the students come up with. The competition is offering mentors, some of which are social entrepreneurs themselves, to work with the students in building out their business plans, and I think the collaborative approach, which unites students’ creativity with business experience, can create some really innovative and practical solutions. And can you imagine how such an experience could change the way you as a newly-graduated student look at business?

For Haiti, I’m excited to see the contest’s objective reached, that is creating new businesses that hire people who desperately need work. This in turn enables the families to be able to pay for their children’s education — very few schools in Haiti receive government funding and many children lack access to education — which is also a key outcome of the competition.

Successful social business plans can also be adapted and recreated across the country. Most importantly, I’d like to see this contest introduce Haitians to the concept of creating business that solves a social or environmental challenge in a financially self-sustaining way. It’s an approach that resonates with people, and although I’ve never been to Haiti, it could be transformative to the emerging economy.

Axiom News: This competition has been described as an opportunity to contribute to the future of an entire economy, meaning Haiti’s. Casting ahead and more broadly, what can we take from this initiative that would be worth considering as new solutions for other economies facing challenges for other reasons?

Camille: I think what we are seeing across the globe is a disaffection with the status quo, which includes traditional profit-maximizing companies. Social business as defined by Yunus, offers us a solution, and to Yunus’ credit, is being adopted around the world: from developed to developing countries. It’s worth appreciating just how broadly his concept has been embraced and by who: from social entrepreneurs to government, universities and major corporations like Adidas and Intel.

That said, I think the broader concept of social business also holds answers to the challenges we as society face. This tent includes models like co-operatives and employee-owned firms to social enterprise, b-corporations and community interest companies.

For more on the upcoming social business competition, visit this link.

If you have feedback on this article, please contact Michelle at 800-294-0051, ext. 27, or e-mail michelle(at)axiomnews.ca.

 

Site Resources

 
 

 

Stories may be reprinted in their entirety with permission and when appropriately credited.

Please contact Axiom News
at 1-800-294-0051 for more information.

Writer Bio

Michelle Strutzenberger's picture

Michelle has been working with Axiom News for more than 10 years where she says she’s had an abundance of opportunity to try new things, bring her gifts to the table, connect with a host of incredible people worldwide and, perhaps most importantly, construct a whole new window out of which to see the world. “Working at Axiom News, I get to join in cultivating an emerging world story that I believe holds some of the greatest promise for the future of this planet,” says Michelle. “Threading through this alternative story are themes such as evolving from empire to deep democracy, from blaming and complaining to ownership and from problem solving to possibility-oriented thinking.” A question Michelle says she’s holding in tension for 2014 is: What place is there for news media in creating a space for people to act on what matters most?