Pure Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge Awards $93K to 10 Startups

On Monday, the winners of the Pure Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge were announced at the Entrepreneur Connect event in Lansing, MI. The statewide contest was hosted by Michigan Corps, the Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), and represents the nation’s first coordinated, public-private effort to advance social entrepreneurship.

According to Elizabeth Garlow, Michigan Corps’ executive director, more than 500 people from around the state attended the awards ceremony, social impact workshop, and pitch event for finalists.

Garlow says her big takeaway from the competition is that the state is hungry for entrepreneurs who have a positive social impact. “I saw strong, emerging social entrepreneurs who want to change the world for the better,” she adds. “And I heard a lot of these entrepreneurs looking for a pathway to connect with one another.” For instance, Garlow points out that although there were only six companies making the final pitch, 160 of their peers showed up at the event to cheer them on.

Garlow says the next step is a social enterprise fellowship program funded by Mission Throttle that will only be open to competition finalists to begin with, but will be rolled out to the public later. Another unexpected result of the competition is that Michigan is now being viewed nationally as a leader in cultivating social entrepreneurship, Garlow says. The Stanford Social Review recently published an article written by Garlow and Rich Tafel that outlines their vision to clearly and simply define the social entrepreneurship movement.

As for those Michiganders who want to get involved, Garlow says the first step is to go to the Michigan Corps website and join. “Michigan Corps is really hoping to catalyze the community,” she says. “Anyone who wants to join the community is welcome to do so.”

At the awards event, the top six teams competing for prizes pitched their ideas to a panel of judges that included what organizers called Michigan’s “thought leaders” in social entrepreneurship.Finalists were awarded first, second, and third place cash … Next Page »

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