Scott Anderson

Weekly Roundup (6/1/13): NB’s Case Writing Competition Returns, Why SOCAP13 Needs Your Vote

Yes, it’s summer, or at least nearly summer. October seems like years, instead of mere months away. But, if you get started right now and work just a little bit every day or even every week, you’ll be ahead of the game come fall.

I’m not referring to a training program for an autumn marathon or saving up for that new smartphone. I’m talking about something waaaay more exciting: The 2014 NextBillion Case Writing Competition.

That’s right. We’re bringing back the competition to find, reward, and publish the best business cases exploring social enterprise and market-harnessing solutions to poverty again in 2014. Many thanks in advance to the Citi Foundation, which is returning as competition sponsor, and to GlobaLens, which manages all the contest entries, lines up the judges, and handles other critical functions. (Disclosure: GlobaLens is a division of the William Davidson Institute, which manages NextBillion).

The 2014 prize money will be the same as this year’s contest, namely:

1st Place: $3,500

2nd Place: $2,500

3rd Place: $1,000

Two Honorable Mentions

For requirement details, entry forms, submission forms, judging criteria, case writing resources, legal documents, webinars on writing strong cases and links to previous winning cases, CLICK HERE.

All of the winners will have their cases published on GlobaLens and will be invited to participate in a video forum to share their case. We held one such session in April via Google Hangout, which you can watch here.

This year’s contest was, well, kind of amazing. More than 150 people entered individually or as part of a team. Entrants represented more than 50 universities and 11 countries. We want to be amazed again in 2014, so we’re giving you as much notice as possible to brainstorm, research, and write your cases.

Here are some of the dates and deadlines you need to plug into your calendar right now:

  • Oct 4, 2013: Entry forms due
  • Dec 20, 2013: Submissions due
  • April 1, 2014: Winners announced.

Vote Early, Vote Often

Here’s another competition to tell you about: SOCAP Open, a new experiment in how organizers of the SOCAP13 conference in September are, at least in part, crowdsourcing their agenda.

Thus far 48 concepts for sessions have been pitched and are available for anyone to vote up, share or comment upon. Each concept needs to fit into the five themes for SOCAP13. As the conference notes in its FAQs, voting from the public accounts for about 30 percent of the decision-making process, the remainder lies with SOCAP’s programming staff (40 percent) and its advisory team (30 percent).

Rebecca Petzel, who is managing the new SOCAP Open, says the San Francisco-based team wanted a mechanism to harness the wisdom of the greater SOCAP network, something that was needed “if we’re going to continue to plan great conferences that stay out in front of what’s happening.”

“The long and short of it is that SOCAP has always been an extremely participatory, community-driven conference,” Petzel told me via email. “We thought it was time to take this to the next level, bring some structure to allowing the community a voice in dictating what content happens at SOCAP so there was equal opportunity to participate.”

It will be interesting to see how the final agenda is sorted after voting concludes on July 2, especially because NextBillion has some skin in the game. I’m hoping to moderate a panel based on a couple of core arguments from our series “What’s Next for Impact Investing” earlier this year. Here’s the concept, as pitched by Steve Schwartz of Upaya Social Ventures: Mission Impossible: Can Impact Investment Fill the Pioneer Gap or Is A New Type of Capital Needed? If you think it’s worth a session, please give it an up vote (you can vote once a day, incidentally). And while you’re there, check out the other ideas and support what you’d like to see at SOCAP13.

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