Elly Brown

Young Entrepreneurs at the Harvard Social Enterprise Conference: Defending the American Dream, Changing the World

This weekend’s Harvard Social Enterprise Conference kicked off on a youthful note with the Young Entrepreneur’s Keynote moderated by Daniel Epstein, CEO of Unreasonable Institute. Aserial entrepreneur himself, Epstein drummed up audience enthusiasm by introducing the three keynote speakers who are striving to “change the f***ing world.” These entrepreneurs are not only defending the American dream, but revitalizing it by enacting innovative and human-centered social businesses to disrupt attitudes, behaviors, and systems.

The keynote entrepreneurs included Kavita Shuka of Fenugreen, Lauren Bush Lauren of Feed Projects, and Taylor Conroy of TenInThree.com.

So what are these disruptive ideas?

Fenugreen: Dryer Sheet for Produce
Shuka, an inventor from a young age, developed a simple solution, FreshPaper. The product keeps produce fresh 2-4 times longer, significantly reducing waste from food spoilage. With only $4 to $7 a month, consumers can actively prevent food spoilage by simply lining FreshPaper in the fridge produce drawer.

FEED Projects: Feeding the world, one bag at a time
FEED bags provide a tangible and simple method for consumers to reduce waste and connect to the fight against global hunger. Each bag, made out of recycled material, is clearly marked with a number signifying how many children the bag will support in feeding for one year.

TeninThree: Crowdsourcing platform for fundraising
In an effort to end “poverty porn”, the use of graphic images by nonprofits to raise funds, Conroy created a platform that allows individuals to campaign for specific causes by tapping into the power of their networks. Through the use of the platform, anyone can fund a school in just 3 hours.

All of these ideas embody this year’s theme at the Harvard Social Enterprise Conference: innovative, impactful, and inclusive. Most of all, the common thread across these ventures is the simplicity and human-natured concept behind the ideas. Lauren Bush emphasized the simple beauty behind the FEED bag: “There’s an emotional response. People are altruistic and want to do good. But here’s a simple and tangible way to give back.”

All three ideas create behavioral change by motivating us, as consumers and as philanthropists, to contribute to social and environmental change in effortless ways. The next generation of social entrepreneurs is not content with harnessing the enthusiasm of a small network; their models ensure that we are all along for the ride.