LANSING, MI - A new statewide entrepreneurship competition is looking for innovative solutions to persistent social problems in Michigan.
The Pure Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge seeks plans for creating sustainable social change in areas such as urban revitalization, environment, health and education. Plans also could provide job opportunities to the structurally unemployed.
It is co-hosted by Michigan Corps, a Detroit-based nonprofit that leads social change efforts; Great Lakes Entrepreneurs' Quest, an Ann Arbor organization that provides resources for entrepreneurs and hosts annual business plan competitions; and the Michigan Economic Development Corp., which will provide $50,000 in cash prizes. The prize structure has not been finalized.
"This challenge really captures what is special about our state - we discover things, we make things, and we make things work," MEDC President and CEO Michael Finney said in a statement. "These strengths make us a great location for social innovators to do their good work and help reinvent Michigan."
Applicants can submit new ideas or replicable models from an existing organization. The program offers participants access to coaches and mentors, networking and impact investors who look for social impact, not just financial return.
"Michigan Corps is working to build out a new community of both coaches and entrepreneurs who specifically focus on social impact in the state," said Elizabeth Garlow, executive director of Michigan Corps.
The MEDC is particularly interested in ideas that provide jobs to those with limited employment options.
Some social entrepreneurship projects involve social goals like curing cancer, said Amy Cell, the MEDC's senior vice president of talent enhancement.
"But there could be other entrepreneurs that would be creating a sustainable business, or could be a food manufacturer, if they were to hire structurally unemployed people to cut vegetables, that would apply under a broad definition of social entrepreneurship," she said.
Those types of applicants also may be eligible for funding and support through the MEDC's Community Ventures program.
Applications for the social entrepreneurship challenge will be accepted online from Feb. 4 through May 20. Prizes will be awarded at GLEQ's Entrepreneur Connect event in Lansing on June 18.
GLEQ announced the winners of its latest business plan competition on Thursday at the Annual Collaboration for Entrepreneurship event in Livonia.
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