Call for the Inaugural SEVEN Fund Student Essay Competition
Cambridge, MA – December 7, 2007
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Cambridge, MA – Dec 7, 2007 - The SEVEN Fund has extended the submission
deadline of its inaugural Student Essay Competition. The competition will award three (3) undergraduate student prizes of US $10,000 each and one (1) graduate student prize of
US $20,000. The new submission deadline is January 20, 2008 at midnight Eastern
Standard Time (EST). Due to multiple requests to extend the deadline to allow participants
to complete end of semester obligations, the SEVEN Fund will extend the deadline to
allow for maximum participation. The date of the announcement of winners will remain the
same – February 7, 2008. Any student who has submitted an essay that wishes to edit
their submission is hereby invited to do so.
Poverty can be regarded as a matter of exclusion from networks of productivity, and not simply as having an unequal portion of what is imagined to be a fixed number of economic goods. In that sense, ending worldwide poverty is serious business. Describe enterprise based solutions to poverty in this context.
The winners will be announced on February 7. 2008 and their essays may be published in selected magazines and publications. SEVEN intends to publish a selection of all submitted essays on its website and in an essay book. By entering the essay competition, students are understood to give their permission for their essay to be used in that fashion.
SEVEN intends to run a version of this competition annually.
Foreign economic and government programs have spent billions of dollars during the past five decades to alleviate the high number of people living in poverty. No country has been lifted out of poverty as a result of these efforts, but the mindset remains the same: aid programs are the key to poverty alleviation. Entrepreneurship as a solution to eradicate poverty (i.e. a focus on wealth creation rather than poverty reduction via re-distribution and government programs), remains controversial because it goes against the mindset that solutions to public problems come from the government rather than from the private sector. The notion of creating wealth is often stigmatized as “exploiting the poor;” and businessmen in developing nations are sometimes regarded as too self-interested to be a force for positive social change.
At the core of the approach to poverty alleviation is the basic question: Are individual persons, no matter where they live, able to determine their own future? Does positive change come from the ingenuity of the individual or does a group of us have to tell the rest what to do? The answer to these questions goes to the core of our view of how we see the person, as fatalistic or self-determined; and it determines whether our proposed solution to an issue like poverty involves a “top-down” approach or a “bottom-up” solution. Indeed, to what extent do we rest the locus of responsibility for a person’s future on him or her; or on others, out of their beneficence?
SEVEN (The Social Equity Venture Fund) is an independent nonprofit organization1 supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. We provide monetary, organizational, and intellectual support for the research of enterprise based solutions to poverty, in accord with the SEVEN Fund Bylaws. The SEVEN Board provides the leadership, and a variety of qualified jurors make funding decisions.
1 501(c)(3) filed with the IRS June ‘07
The Fund’s activities are enhanced by the active participation of its SEVEN Fund Members. SEVEN Fund Membership consists of all researchers funded by the Fund, as well as researchers with membership granted by the SEVEN principals via invitation or application.
The aim of SEVEN Fund programs is to challenge the prevailing mindset in the fight against poverty. We want to stimulate discussion around the questions of whether wealth-creation may be the most effective solution to alleviate poverty. We invest our efforts and resources to discuss, find, research, and document examples where entrepreneurial success is shown to have led to poverty alleviation. In the process, we support entrepreneurs in developing countries with case studies, mentorship programs and publicity and services that help them succeed at what they do.
What is the essay question?
The essay question for both the undergraduate and the graduate student essay competition is:
“Poverty can be regarded as a matter of exclusion from networks of productivity, and not simply as having an unequal portion of what is imagined to be a fixed number of economic goods. In that sense, ending worldwide poverty is serious business. Describe enterprise based solutions to poverty in this context.”
How do I submit my essay?
- Submit your essay electronically in a MS Word or PDF format only.
- For undergraduate student competition: firstname.lastname@example.org
- For graduate student competition: email@example.com
- Every essay MUST, in addition to the actual essay, include a 100 word abstract at the beginning of the document.
Along with the submission, you need to include the following information:
- Your full name and mailing address, a contact telephone number and your academic email.
- Your degree-level and field of study.
- Your University’s name, official address and main telephone number; and the name, phone number and email address of someone we may contact at the university (Faculty member, Department Chair, or registrar) to verify that you are enrolled as a full time student.
Does SEVEN have a preferred philosophical or scientific agenda?
We see a number of experts who opine about poverty and prosperity: i.e., macroeconomists, businessmen, educators, political scientists, social scientists, etc. We rarely see enough integration, where the experts of one domain borrow insights from another, and attempt to create an even more robust intellectual framework. We intend to foster this kind of integration, at the level of thought leader and practitioner.
Who qualifies to compete in the SEVEN Fund Student Essay Competition?
Any full time student who studies at an accredited educational institution worldwide2 may submit a 2000 word Essay in English to compete in the SEVEN Fund competition as long as the essay reflects the scope and guidelines stated in the call for essays. The winning students will be required to enter into a contract with SEVEN prior to final award. We welcome applicants from every field of study.
2 Except for nations under US embargo
How long should the essay be?
Essays may not exceed 2000 words and must be written in English. Students may write an essay of less than 2000 words. Do not forget that you MUST submit a 100 word abstract along with your essay.
What is the 100 word abstract?
We ask you to submit, along with your essay a 100 word abstract which states the essence of what your paper is about. This is a very useful process for both the writer and the reader as it forces the writer to concisely state his or her point and it allows the reader to enter the reading of the essay with a better understanding of the idea and subject matter.
Do Undergrad and Graduate Students compete with each other?
No, Undergraduate and Graduate Students, while writing on the same question, compete in separate groups. Are there any restrictions on the prize money?
What may the prize money be used for?
The prize money is intended for use at an accredited academic institution for the winning student’s education. SEVEN will release the money directly to the educational institution or a student loan provider, not directly to the winning student.
How will essays be judged?
All essays that comply with the call for essay rules will undergo a competitive process of a confidential jury review. Expert SEVEN Fund jurors will evaluate and rank the essays according to the criteria described in the call for essays. The winning students will be required to enter into a contract with SEVEN prior to final award.
Can I submit multiple essays?
No, each student may only submit one essay.
Can I collaborate with another student?
You may decide to submit an essay together with another student, but the prize money is per essay, not per student. The two (or more) of you would share the prize.
What if I am unable to submit my application electronically?
Only applications submitted through this form on our website are accepted. If you encounter problems, please contact SEVEN at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How is SEVEN financed?
This call for essays is supported initially by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation. SEVEN intends to run a version of this essay competition annually.
What sort of legal organization is SEVEN?
SEVEN is a non-profit corporation under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. An application for recognition as a 501 (c) (3) organization was filed in June 2007.
Who is SEVEN? How is SEVEN administered and run?
SEVEN is primarily managed by two people, Andreas Widmer and Michael Fairbanks, bios attached. They are co-directors with different experiences in the high-tech industry and development, respectively. They founded and ran the only venture-backed firm in the USA to focus on selling software and strategic consulting services to developing nations. There is a board of advisors, and a board of directors with vast experience in global markets, advisory work, and enterprise solutions to poverty.
What if I have additional questions?
You may send your questions to email@example.com
Acceptable use of prize monies:
- Full Time Tuition
- University/School Housing (only if it is to be paid directly to the University or School)
- Payment against Student Loans
* Inaugural SEVEN Fund Call for Essays: Saturday, September 7, 2007
* Deadline for Essay submission: Midnight Eastern Standard Time, January 20, 2008
* SEVEN Fund Essay Award Announcements: Thursday, February 7, 2008
* Full Time Tuition
* University/School Housing (only if it is to be paid directly to the University or School)
* Payment against Student Loans
Michael Fairbanks co-founded the SEVEN Fund in 2005. SEVEN is a philanthropic foundation based in Cambridge, Massachusetts run by entrepreneurs, whose strategy is to produce films, books and original research to markedly increase the rate of diffusion of enterprise solutions to global poverty.
He is the founder and Chairman Emeritus of the OTF Group, a strategy-consulting firm based in Boston, and the first venture-backed U.S. firm to focus on developing nations. He was a U.S. Peace Corps teacher in Kenya. A long-time angel investor in the life sciences, he is a founding shareholder in Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which has drugs currently undergoing FDA trials to fight cancer. Mr. Fairbanks is also a founding board member of Silver Creek Pharmaceuticals, based in San Francisco, which is focused on solutions to heart disease. He is helping to launch Akagera Pharmaceuticals, which will focus on solutions to infectious disease.
He has been a Senior Advisor since 2001 to President Paul Kagame of Rwanda on private sector development and export competitiveness. Other recent projects include advising the President of the Inter-American Development Bank on creating its USD 250 million Opportunities for the Majority private sector initiative; and advising the Minister of Finance of Afghanistan on private-sector reforms. Mr. Fairbanks testified to U.S. Congress twice in the last twelve months on enterprise solutions to poverty in Haiti. He conceived and oversees the Global Pioneers of Prosperity Program, in cooperation with OTF, Legatum, the Multilateral Investment Fund, and the Templeton Foundation, which finds and recognizes role model businesses in the world’s poorest nations.
He co–authored Harvard Business School’s landmark book on business strategy in emerging markets, "Plowing the Sea, Nurturing the Hidden Sources of Advantage in Developing Nations," with a foreword by Michael Porter. Business Week Magazine said, "Plowing the Sea points the way toward creating prosperity in developing nations; " the Boston Globe named it one of the ten best books of the year in Politics and Economics; and Exame magazine, Brazil’s leading business weekly, called it one of the ten best books of the decade.
He helped to conceive, funded, and contributed to "Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress," edited by Sam Huntington and Larry Harrison at Harvard. His most recent book, which he edited, is entitled "In the River They Swim: Essays from Around the World on Enterprise Solutions to Poverty .” His next book will be published in 2012.
He has authored numerous popular articles in the Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post and Washington Post. He has over 500,000 subscribers to his writing.
His work has been translated into a dozen languages, including Korean, Mongolian and Serbian. He was an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts, and a visiting fellow at Stanford. He studied philosophy and biochemistry at the University of Scranton, a Jesuit university in Pennsylvania where he was a trustee for six years, and African politics at Columbia University, SIPA ’83, in New York City. He will spend the 2011-12 academic year as a Fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University.
He was named to the Commission on Globalization in the 1990s with, among others, Mikhail Gorbachev, Jane Goodall and Joe Stiglitz. In 2007, he was appointed to the President’s Advisory Council in Rwanda with among others, Pastor Rick Warren and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In 2006, his alma mater gave him its highest award, a doctorate in humane letters for his "accomplishments and devotion to social justice." He is a citizen of the United States, the European Union (Ireland), and Rwanda.
Andreas Widmer is the cofounder of SEVEN Fund, a philanthropic organization run by entrepreneurs who invest in original research, books, films, and websites to further enterprise solutions to poverty.
Andreas and his business partner Michael Fairbanks initiated the Pioneers of Prosperity Awards, a first-of-its-kind industry program that finds and promotes the best entrepreneurs in emerging markets.
Andreas works closely with top entrepreneurs, investors, and faith leaders around the world to foster enterprise solutions to poverty and promote virtuous business practices. He has developed entrepreneurial initiatives at the intersection of business and faith including his faith and prosperity blog, the Catholic Mental Models Project, the joint 2010 Essay Competition with the Center for Interfaith Action, and a partnership with the Carpenter’s Fund.
Andreas is a Research Fellow in Entrepreneurship at the Acton Institute and an advisor to the Zermatt Summit, an annual business leadership event that strives to humanize globalization. He also serves as an advisor to Transforming Business, a research and development project at the University of Cambridge. He currently serves on the advisory boards of the Templeton Foundation, Global Adaptation Institute, Spring Hill Equity Partners, Karisimbi Business Partners, and Catholics Come Home. He is on the board of directors at the New Paradigm Research Fund, Virtual Research Associates and the World Youth Alliance, a global coalition of young people committed to promoting the dignity of the person and building solidarity among youth from developed and developing nations. He was appointed by the Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty as a member of the Task Force to Advance Multireligious Collaboration on Faith, Health and Development, which presented its findings at the White House in November 2010.
Andreas is a seasoned business executive with experience in high-tech and international business strategy consulting and economic development. He was an executive in residence at Highland Capital Partners, a venture capital firm. He served as CEO of OTF Group (formerly part of the Monitor Group) and helped lead Eprise Corporation, Dragon Systems and FTP Software. Widmer has worked extensively in the United States, Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America, and has brought more than 100 leading-edge technology products to market.
An author on the connection between entrepreneurship, economic development and spirituality, Andreas blogs regularly at www.faithandprosperity.com. He contributed two chapters to the book In the River They Swim: Essays from Around the World on Enterprise Solutions to Poverty. His book on values and leadership will be released from Emmaus Road Press in Fall 2011. He has authored articles and been featured in various business and general interest media including the Financial Times, Bloomberg News, Sky TV, Kigali Times, FastCompany, Catholic TV, EWTN Radio and First Things.
Andreas served as a Pontifical Swiss Guard from 1986-1988, protecting Pope John Paul II. He holds two business degrees from Switzerland, plus a B.S. in International Business from Merrimack College and an M.A. in Ministry from St. John’s Seminary in Boston. A citizen of Switzerland and the United States, he speaks English, German, Italian and French.
He was one of the founding members of the Catholic Men’s and Women’s Conferences in Boston and was recently knighted in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre and is a member of Legatus, the Catholic CEO organization.
Andreas loves to spend time with his wife and son. He is an eternal student of fly-fishing, enjoys skiing, and is an avid reader.
Elizabeth Hooper is Executive Director at SEVEN, where she works closely with the Fund's founders on key program and operational initiatives. She is particularly interested in the areas of enterprise solutions to poverty research, and the impact of culture and values on entrepreneurship and innovation. Prior to joining SEVEN, Elizabeth was the Director of Operations at the OTF Group, an international development and business strategy consulting firm. She advised the executive team on issues related to human capital management, marketing, and field operations. She also managed the firm's internal market research practice and actively consulted on key client engagements in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East.
She holds an MBA, and is currently completing her ALM in Anthropology at Harvard. She co-edited the book In the River They Swim: Essays From Around the World on Enterprise Solutions to Poverty with Michael Fairbanks, Malik Fal, and Marcela Escobari, published in Spring 2009. She's currently co-editing a collection on the Morality of Profit, due out in 2011. She was also a co-author of the infoDEV report "Improving Business Competitiveness and Increasing Economic Growth in Uganda: The Role of Information and Communication Technologies."
She serves on the Board of Directors of several organizations, and is also a published fiction writer.
The SEVEN Fund has sole and absolute discretion to determine which submission entries, if any, merit an award. The SEVEN Fund reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to change, modify, extend or reduce the terms and conditions of, or to suspend or terminate, the competition without prior notice. SEVEN will endeavor to inform participants of any such change, modification, extension, reduction, suspension or termination, as the case may be, through any media outlet deemed appropriate by SEVEN in its sole and absolute discretion. SEVEN further reserves the right to nullify and/or cancel any part or all of the competition if it appears that any fraud or malfunctions have occurred in any form whatsoever. Each participant undertakes to indemnify and keep SEVEN harmless from and against any loss, damage, claims, costs and expenses which may be incurred by or asserted against SEVEN as a result of such participant's participation in the competition.
Entrepreneurs create products, services and jobs. They expand economies, improve people's lives, provide employment (high and rising wages) and bring about competition. A competitive environment, in turn, gives rise to efficiency, meritocracy and further innovations and entrepreneurial drive.
The potent combination of entrepreneurship and technological innovation can forge an environment that is conducive to further enterprise, involving even government policy in supporting entrepreneurship and innovation.