Campus News

Harvard Students Host 15th Annual Social Enterprise Conference, Drawing over 1,000 Attendees

For Immediate Release: March 17th, 2014

Contact: Jacob Cohen (415-577-1590) / jacob_cohen@hks15.harvard.edu

Harvard Students Host 15th Annual Social Enterprise Conference, Drawing over 1,000 Attendees

Conference to focus on defining future of the field and include keynote speeches from leaders of Kiva and Echoing Green

Cambridge, MA – On March 29th and 30th students from Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School will host the 15th annual Social Enterprise Conference, a leading global forum that explores the intersection of business and social impact. Identified by Forbes as one of the “Top 12 most influential executive gatherings”, this year’s conference will feature a diverse slate of programs, including four keynote addresses, dozens of expert panels, and intensive hands-on sessions that empower participants to generate creative solutions to real-time social enterprise challenges.

The conference is pleased to announce keynote addresses from the following list of leading social entrepreneurs:

  • Cheryl Dorsey is the President of Echoing Green, a springboard that enables social entrepreneurs to contribute to solving the world’s biggest problems.
  • Premal Shah is the President of Kiva, the world’s first online lending platform connecting lenders to low-income/underserved entrepreneurs and students across 70 countries.
  • Leilah Janah is the founder and CEO of Samasource, an NGO that connects unemployed women and youth in impoverished countries to digital work

Augmenting the conference’s historic program offerings, this year will emphasize collaborative problem solving and practitioner-focused sessions that explore challenges at various phases of the social enterprise life cycle. New to this year’s conference, Action Labs will give participants a chance to develop and leverage new skills to help Echoing Green fellows tackle specific early-phase social enterprise challenges. Real-world executives will also host participatory sessions called Idealabs, facilitated by The Value Web, that challenge participants to analyze strategic organizational challenges. Reflecting this year’s action oriented ethos, these participatory sessions will take place at the Harvard Innovation Lab (i-lab), a state-of-the-art facility that fosters cross-disciplinary, cross-university student entrepreneurship.

Acknowledging the tremendous growth and maturation of both the social enterprise sector as well as the Harvard’s Social Enterprise Conference, this year’s theme is “Reflecting on the Past, Shaping the Future.” In the spirit of reflection, the conference

will host a gala to celebrate the transformative impact achieved through social enterprise and to award notable practitioners. With an eye towards the future, attendees will be invited to contribute their vision for social enterprise through an interactive “Face of Social Enterprise” exhibit. Participants will also be encouraged to think critically about contentious issues likely to shape the direction of the social enterprise field through great debate-style events featuring the perspectives of divergent thought leaders.

Rounding out this year’s expansive slate of innovative programming, the conference will again feature a Pitch for Change competition, inviting young social entrepreneurs from around the world to present their ideas to over 1,000 attendees and compete for $6,000 in finalist prize money. A social enterprise Career Fair will also enable attendees to connect with leading social enterprise employers.

A leading symposium that seeks to accelerate social change efforts by advancing the practice of social entrepreneurship, the 15th Annual Conference is a momentous moment for the university as well as the field of social enterprise. Now in its 15th year, the conference is a testament to Harvard graduate students’ enduring commitment to tackling our society’s most intractable social challenges.

Tickets are still on sale for the conference and can be purchased at

www.socialenterpriseconference.org.

For more information visit www.socialenterpriseconference.org or contact info@socialenterprise.org.

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March 28, 2014
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