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Originally published Monday, March 9, 2009 at 3:30 PM



UW Global Business Center rewards social entrepreneurship

We salute the Foster School's Global Business Center, which acknowledges and rewards social entrepreneurship — business with a social goal.

Seattle Times editorial


For results of the fifth annual global social entrepreneurship competition, go to:

A BUSINESS plan to sell meals for less than 10 cents each to the poor of Mumbai, the city shown in the Oscar-winning movie "Slumdog Millionaire" — that's worth a prize.

University of Washington's Foster School of Business has awarded a prize for just such a plan at a ceremony in Seattle last week. It was $10,000, donated by Microsoft.

The winners, four students from the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies in India, designed an 800-calorie, ready-to-eat meal using rice, lentils, unrefined sugar and vegetables, including vegetable peels that food processors have been throwing away. The meal could be sold profitably for 5 rupees — 9.6 U.S. cents — a lifesaving bargain.

Another prizewinning plan aimed to defeat counterfeit pharmaceuticals — some of them worthless and even dangerous — through the use of code numbers on sealed pill bottles, cellphone texting and a central computer registry. The team, from Princeton University and Ghana, West Africa, calculated that the labels and verification service would cost 6 cents per bottle of pills — an investment in counterfeit suppression that would pay handsomely for the producers of legitimate drugs.

These and other business plans are examples of social entrepreneurship — business with a social goal. We salute the winners and the Foster School's Global Business Center for holding the annual competition, which has the potential of doing so much good.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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