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Harvard Business School Announces Winners Of Annual Social Entrepreneurship Awards

A huge $225,000 has been awarded to Harvard Business School MBA students and alumni with a socially responsible entrepreneurial vision

Tue Apr 4 2023

Harvard Business School awarded $225,000 in cash prizes to the winners of its 26th annual New Venture Competition (NVC). 

The NVC is hosted annually by the Harvard Business School Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise Initiative, in partnership with HBS Alumni Clubs and Associations. 

Open to all students and alumni looking to launch a new social impact-led business, this year’s contest welcomed an impressive 318 teams. Teams of entrepreneurs were split into three tracks: 122 in the Student Business Track, 57 in the Student Social Enterprise Track, and 139 in the Alumni Track. 

All teams then pitched their new ventures to over 300 judges, facing scrutiny from HBS graduates, venture capitalist, impact investors, and social entrepreneurs, among others. 

In total, 20 teams made it to the final—eight from the Student Business Track, four in the Social Enterprise Track, and eight in the Alumni Track. 

Winners in each category received a huge $75,000, runners-up were awarded $25,000, and $5,000 prizes were awarded to the most promising ventures and crowd favorites. 

Here’s a closer look at the prize winners:

Student Business Track 

Winner: Halo Braid 

Founded by MBA entrepreneurs, Yinka Ogunbiyi, David Afolabi, and Christian Knight, Halo Braid has created an automated hair braiding device that reduces the braiding process from up to six hours to just a few minutes for hair stylists. This will allow Black salon owners to triple their business and creates an opportunity worth as much as $11 billion. 

“We are excited to bring much needed innovation to an overlooked industry that hasn’t changed in thousands of years,” said Yinka. 

Runner-up: DoriVac 

Lead by chief business officer and MBA student, Kevin Emancipator alongside CEO, Claire Zeng, DoriVac focuses on treating cancer. Using cutting-edge science and nanotechnology, DoriVac is designed to train individual human immune cells to recognize and destroy cancer cells. The technology has shown impressive results in animal trials. 

Student Social Enterprise Track 

Winner: The MV3 Foundation 

Ashley Kyalwazi, founder and CEO, and Leonard Nettey, chief operations officer and research lead, aim to address the disparity between the number of Black Americans who are likely to die from treatable conditions in the healthcare system compared to other racial groups. The MV3 Foundation aims to train the next generation of Black healthcare leaders. It provides college students with mentorship, training opportunities, and scholarships. 

Runner-up: Pando 

MBA student, Claire Wu, has launched Pando to address the problem of poor, self-built housing in Indonesia that can lead to a lower quality of life and fewer economic opportunities for generations. The startup gives affordable home improvement loans which aim to help break this cycle for many Indonesians by democratizing credit. 

Alumni Track 

Winner: M7 Health 

Founded by MBA alumni, Ilana Springer Borkenstein and Eric Gruskin, M7 Health is a nursing workforce management platform for health systems. It is designed to make the nursing profession work for modern nurses and prevent the huge amount of turnover the profession sees, as well as its negative impact. 

Runner-up: Hue 

Hue was founded by MBA alumni, Janvi Shah, Nicole Clay, and Sylvan Guo. It is a shoppable video platform that helps brands and retailers embed TikTok-style videos on their e-commerce websites and encourage purchases. 

In addition to cash prizes, sponsors also donated in-kind services and tools that will help the startups launch and grow. 

“Many of this year’s ventures have the potential to drive sustained, high-impact social change, core to what drives social enterprise,” said Amelia Angella, MBA grad and interim director of the Social Enterprise Initiative. 

“Our students have had the opportunity to stress test their ideas through the competition process and will to continue to iterate and improve their organizations, as they tackle societal issues," she added.

Business school MBA competitions have many benefits for budding entrepreneurs. They are a great way to receive feedback from venture capitalists and successful startup founders as well as getting to chance to earn $1000’s in prize money to kickstart your venture. 

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