Student-Run Social Impact

The sky's the limit for Wharton MBA for Executives students in San Francisco. Photo credit: Rai Poquiz.

The sky’s the limit for Wharton MBA for Executives students in San Francisco. Photo credit: Rai Poquiz.

As I had previously written , Class 37 at Wharton | San Francisco had our first social impact elective offered earlier this term. After the course ended, a few of us met with our professor to discuss how to keep the conversation going. Many students expressed interest in having speakers come and talk to the class about the various topics that we had surveyed as a part of the curriculum. From that discussion emerged the idea of hosting a student-run social impact conference out here in San Francisco. Last year, Wharton Social Impact Initiative, the Baker Retailing Center and the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership jointly organized the first Wharton San Francisco Social Impact Conference. The half-day event was attended by more than 120 Wharton students, alumni and friends and was a great success.  So we decided to continue the tradition, except to organize and run it ourselves this time around.

After much hard work, we are excited to announce the second annual Wharton San Francisco Social Impact Conference, which will be held on April 4. Find more information and purchase tickets at the Wharton San Francisco Social Impact Conference website. We’re glad to have the Wharton Social Impact Initiative helping us out once again, in addition to support from Wharton | San Francisco.

We have not had student-run conferences at the San Francisco campus prior to this term. Earlier in February, we hosted the Wharton Entrepreneurship Conference with a wide array of speakers from the venture capital world and several startup founders as well.  As Wharton solidifies its presence in the Bay Area, we expect the trend of these student-run conferences to continue, much like the tradition back East. We have also been fortunate to partner with the Wharton Club of Northern California for both these events, and we look forward to maintaining the link between alums who attend our events and students who host the events to spread the word.

After throwing around ideas for the conference theme this year, we decided to focus on two key themes: how do you finance impact investing ideas and get them funded?; and how do the founders come up with their ideas and find ways to scale them up?

The first panel is centered around impact investing and networks that facilitate the interaction between funders and startups. On this panel, we will have speakers from Omidyar Network, Social Capital Markets and Humanity United. Our second panel is focused on social entrepreneurship and sustainability. We have a diverse array of panelists here who will talk about how they identified a social challenge and how they built their business to solve that need. Also featured will be the founders of Back to the Roots, who grow gourmet mushrooms from recycled coffee grounds, and PlayWorks, an organization that transforms schools by providing play and physical activity at recess and throughout the school day. The two other founders on this panel represent groups that are centered about empowering people through job creation, SamaSource and the Bread Project.

We look forward to an amazing afternoon of inspiring talks and engaging conversations!

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