Photo by Gigsy.
By Dustin Robertson.
How can Tulane students create social impact through social ventures?
Alaa Mohammad, a biostatician and epidemiologist, walks up to a microphone, raises her eyes and asks the crowd to imagine a world free of malaria. She is aiming to help create that reality with her venture, Malaria at the Borders, a public health management and research consultancy dedicated to improving the health of migrant workers and communities affected by malaria around the Saudi-Yemeni borders.
Alaa was one of fifteen Tulane students who shared their social venture ideas on Tuesday, March 19th at the Taylor Student Showcase. At the Showcase, audience members heard pitches from six teams tackling an array of social and environmental issues, ranging from birth justice and homelessness in New Orleans to parole advocacy for inmates in Louisiana. All six ventures are led by teams of Tulane students who used a design-thinking approach to develop evidence-based solutions to real-world problems.The 2019 CI cohort of mostly PhD and Masters students represented many disciplines, including law, medicine, business, public health, engineering, and other fields of study.
The Showcase, held in Tulane’s Lavin-Bernick Center, is an annual event where graduates of CI present their ideas and seek feedback from members of the Tulane and New Orleans community. The master of ceremonies for the night was CI director Julia Lang, who explained the format to the audience—attendees were invited to “choose their own adventure” by choosing four longer pitches from ventures that interested them most as those longer presentations ran simultaneously in the two ballrooms. Q+A and written feedback was built in to the program to create a dialogue between ventures and attendees and to provide constructive feedback and suggestions after each pitch.
“This is not your traditional business accelerator” explained Lang “We see success in one of two ways. The first is, of course, creating a viable, sustainable and successful social venture. The second equal, if not more powerful outcome, is when students realize their venture is not needed, wanted, or already exists in another form and become more aware of the complexity around their social issue and connected to other change agents tackling the same social issue.”
The Showcase is the capstone event for CI—a three-month dynamic accelerator program for Tulane graduate and upper-level undergraduate students to build social entrepreneurship skills and advance their social ventures. Throughout the program, students learn skills including user-centered research and design, funding, budgeting, branding, pitching, building a logic model for social impact assessment, and many more.
When reflecting on her experience in CI, one graduate noted: “CI has been great, not only in terms of providing the basic skills of starting and running a business for a non-business background student like me, but [it] also taught [me] a lot about social impact and the people aspect of a business as opposed to finance-driven aspect of it. It has been a great first step for me to learn about various aspects of social entrepreneurship and will always be valuable for me as I continue to pursue my interests in entrepreneurship overall.”
View photos from the event and learn more about the graduating ventures:
A social enterprise employing community doulas who support Black New Orleans individuals and families through pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period.
Hali Ledet, BS in Public Health
Will Smith, Masters in Neuroscience
A team of medical and doctoral students developing a fast, reliable, and affordable screening device for infectious disease detection in rural locations and developing countries that have little or no access to advanced laboratory diagnostics.
Nithya Kasireddy, PhD Biomedical Engineering
Annie Bell, MD
Fei Wu, PhD-Aging Studies
Tim E. Gressett, MD/PhD
Homeless Hospital Liaisons
A program at University Medical Center that connects patients experiencing homelessness with housing, follow up care, case managers, and other social services in New Orleans.
Adhira Divagaran, MD
Frances Gill, MD/PhD
Rebecca Carter, PhD in Epidemiology
Bhumi Patel, MD/MPH
Malaria At The Border
A public health management and research consultancy, dedicated to improving the health of migrant workers and communities affected by malaria around the Saudi-Yemeni border.
Shaymaa Abdalal, PhD in Tropical Medicine
Alaa E. Mohammed, MBA/PhD in Epidemiology
An online marketplace and innovative logistics system connecting small local restaurants and grocery stores to organic produce from Louisiana farms.
Jake Levitt, BS in Management
Luke Hunter, BS in Finance
A nonprofit providing pro-bono parole advocacy and support for all.
Lydia Winkler, JD/MBA
Frederick Bell, BS in Political Economy