Student-run summit employs business to fight poverty

Published: 2014-03-07

What started on the Fisher campus with a group of students discussing ways to fight poverty has grown in the last five years to become what organizers call the largest, free, student-run social entrepreneurship conference in the Midwest.

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The event will take place Saturday, March 22 from noon to 5 p.m. at the Wexner Center for the Arts, 1850 College Rd. on the Ohio State campus.

The Alleviating Poverty Through Entrepreneurship (APTE) Summit is expected to attract almost 1,000 visitors from across campus and around the globe when it kicks off March 22 at the Wexner Center for the Arts on The Ohio State University campus. The theme of the 2014 event is “How might we . . .” -- aiming to not only educate guests about social entrepreneurship, but also provide takeaways on sustainable, business-based solutions to local and global poverty.

“Alleviating poverty through entrepreneurship goes beyond the binary logic of either social value or profits,” said James Paskett, a summit organizer and finance student at Fisher. “We know that profits increase the sustainability of social interventions so we are working to build a knowledge base for practitioners to structure revenue streams into these social interventions.

“There is an incredible amount of innovation occurring in this industry and the APTE Summit is one of the best places to meet and network with social innovators locally and internationally.”

Speakers for this year’s summit include:

  • Donnel Baird, CEO of BlocPower, a venture working to find low-cost renewable energy solutions for small businesses, and provide job training in underserved neighborhoods
  • Jessica Mayberry, founding director of Video Volunteers, an initiative working in India to empower marginalized communities through the use of media
  • Lindsay Stradley, CEO and co-founder of Sanergy, a social enterprise building sustainable sanitation in Africa’s urban slums

In addition, the event features a business competition open to start-ups that have developed a solution to a pressing social issue. The winner will be announced the night before the summit at a special event on campus. Learn more about the finalists competing for $15,000 in winnings. In recent weeks, organizers have also staged pop-up studios around campus and Columbus, giving community members opportunities to network and learn social entrepreneurship techniques.

The APTE summit receives support from Fisher’s Center for Entrepreneurship while organizers hail from areas of study across Ohio State, including public affairs, journalism and others.

“There exists a stereotype that entrepreneurs are merely profit seekers,” said organizer Nathan Piper, who is majoring in public affairs and minoring in economics. “By showcasing the work of social entrepreneurs, APTE dispels this notion and demonstrates that problem-solving entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes are helping to combat poverty and human misery.”