APTE Summit 2016

An event that began modestly inside a Gerlach Hall classroom seven years ago once again drew to campus hundreds of current and future change-makers as the annual Alleviating Poverty Through Entrepreneurship (APTE) Summit took over Mershon Auditorium.

More than 850 people from around the country took part in the daylong event, which highlighted the power of social change in local communities. Approximately 150 more watched the summit via live stream.

“We wanted to show how social entrepreneurship and business, in general, can build communities,” said Ruidi Lu, a third-year finance and economics student and director of the summit's 14-student organizing team. “It’s something a lot of us are familiar with. Many students have gone on service trips, which are wonderful. But at the end of the day, if you want to start something bigger abroad, it’s a challenge. There are language issues. It’s hard to get off the ground.

“There are a lot of problems here waiting to be solved through innovation. We wanted to show our audience that they can start a business and innovate and solve problems for people in their backyards—the people they live with.”

The APTE Summit is an annual event that draws social entrepreneurs, students and community members to explore sustainable solutions to poverty. The student-run summit began at Fisher in 2009 and drew 200 people its first year. Since then, the event has attracted thousands of participants, featured speakers from around the world and awarded thousands of dollars through a student business competition. The event is hosted by the Business Builders Club.

“The summit is a reflection of the passion that everyone in our group has,” Lu said. “We put a lot of time into it because we want to see students get involved in subjects like fighting human trafficking, homelessness and poverty.”

2016 APTE Summit Slideshow

This year’s summit drew a number of key speakers, including:

  • Buddy Teaster, president and CEO of Soles4Souls, a local non-profit social enterprise that collects new and used shoes and redistributes them through direct donations to people in need and through micro-enterprise partners.
  • Laura Weiss, founder of GoBox, an innovative sustainable business designed to reduce the waste associated with Portland's fabulous food carts.
  • Logan Pugh, search director for ReWork, a mission-driven search and professional development firm connecting exceptional people with organizations making social, environmental, and cultural progress.
  • Paula Haines, president of the board for Freedom A La Cart, a non-profit social enterprise that empowers adult survivors of human trafficking to live an independent life gained through personal and economic self-sufficiency.
  • Shivang Dave, founding member of PlenOptika, a start-up devoted to providing quality eye care for all.

“A lot of businesses and corporations have really begun viewing social responsibility not as optional, but as something that’s a part of their business credo,” Lu said. “Our speakers showed the power of social entrepreneurship. And lots of businesses are using that give-back model because it resonates with people. They want to see businesses do well not only with shareholder returns, but in larger societal returns.”