2013 SVIC Freid Yunus

The NH Social Venture Innovation Challenge was founded by the University of New Hampshire in 2013 in partnership with Nobel Peace Prize winner, and father of the microfinance movement, Muhammad Yunus, who was also the inaugural keynote speaker, attracting over 700 people. It has become an annual signature event which powerfully demonstrates the keen interest of students and community entrepreneurs and activists in helping address some of society’s most pressing social and environmental challenges, and their creativity in designing novel, sustainable, business-orientated solutions.

Last year’s event again showcased the idealism and ingenuity of students and community change agents, with over 90 entries from across the state of New Hampshire. In the student track, team members represented more than 30 different majors, suggesting that students from a variety of disciplines are interested in how entrepreneurial tools can be a force for good. Learn more about past winners here.

The SVIC was designed to be different from other traditional business plan competitions. Rather than full business plans, the Challenge is interested in unlocking and jumpstarting innovative thinking among students and community members who want to “make a difference.” The SVIC is designed to complement the annual Holloway Prize Innovation-to-Market Competition which takes place at UNH each spring. Students are eligible and are encouraged to enter both competitions, with the Holloway prize providing an excellent follow-up to the SVIC, helping students develop their social venture ideas further.

“To me, social entrepreneurship is a continuous improvement process that starts with thinking differently. I am a big fan of the NH Social Venture Innovation Challenge because it effectively encourages young entrepreneurs to be more opportunistic and expansive in thinking about the potential impacts of their enterprises. Regardless of whether or not the participants win the competition, all benefit from the encouragement to think bigger and more optimistically. This process is positive and hopeful and can only catalyze more and better social enterprises.”

- Gary Hirshberg, President and Founder, Stonyfield Farm | 2015 SVIC Keynote Speaker