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William James Foundation Socially Responsible Business Plan Competition Deadline December 3rd

$100,000 in prizes and extensive feedback available to sustainable entrepreneurs

Submitted by: Mentor Capital Network

Categories: Ratings & Awards, Socially Responsible Investing

Posted: Nov 11, 2010 – 04:40 PM EST


WASHINGTON, Nov. 11 /CSRwire/ - In addition to honoring everyone's veterans, all of whom gave some, and some of whom gave all, I'd like to talk about why the organization I have the honor to run is called the William James Foundation.

William James was an American philosopher who came of age in the 1860s. Which means he watched his generation serve their country in the only way they knew how -- by carrying a gun. Often against each other. While he knew that this was one way to be of service, there were others, and he wanted to expand how people could be of service to their community.

The William James Foundation (WJF), named in his honor, also wants to expand how we think about being "of service." While we admire volunteerism, it is a luxury for most of us. At the WJF, we seek to expand the opportunity for people to go to work (and take care of their personal community – themselves and their family) and, at the same time, take care of their wider community – however that is defined (your neighbors, your planet) in a social and/or environmental context.

The WJF does this by working with start-up for-profit entrepreneurs who are discovering and testing the best new ideas in business sustainability – financially viable ways to provide social and/or environmental benefit. (We will also, alas, settle for ideas that do less harm than the current standard.) We work with these entrepreneurs through our socially responsible business plan competitions.

The competition works like this: entrepreneurs submit five page summaries of their business plans to competition@williamjamesfoundation.org by Friday, December 3rd, 2010. The WJF will accept plans from entrepreneurs of any age, from anywhere in the world. Our only requirements are that the plans are for-profit, have defined social and/or environmental goal, and are for businesses that are either pre-revenue or within two years of 1st revenue. More details are at www.williamjamesfoundation.org/intenttocompete.

The WJF will then assign a team of readers, drawn from our pool of more than 450 high-level experts, including multiple-bottom-line owners, managers, and subject matter experts from around the world. These readers review and score the plans, providing detailed constructive feedback on the summaries. Last year we were able to provide an average of 20 pages of feedback per team per round. In mid-January, the WJF will select the top 20% of the plans are invited to submit full plans, and the process begins again.

The top teams from the second round will be in the running for a variety of prizes provided by our partners and sponsors. Prize Categories for 2010-2011 include:

  • The William James Foundation Social Responsibility Prizes are at least $10,000 in cash (divided amongst top three teams) and $100,000 in in-kind (divided amongst finalists and honorable mention teams).

  • The Stiefel Family Foundation Prizes will go to renewable energy start-ups that seek to reduce our world's dependency on oil. A focus on transportation will be favored, but is not required. $15,000 in cash prizes or investments will be divided amongst the top teams in this category.

  • The Washington, DC Prizes sponsored by The Affinity Lab and the Prosperity League of America are at least $5,000 in cash and $10,000 of in-kind to be divided amongst the top teams.

  • The Richard Heinberg prizes for Environmental Sustainability sponsored by the Foundation for a Sustainable Future are $2,000 for 1st place, $1,000 for 2nd place, and $500 for third place.

  • The LOHAS Prizes will go to the businesses that best fit the mission and vision of the LOHAS forum. Prizes will include free conference registration and presentation opportunities at the LOHAS Forum in 2011 and at least $1,000 worth of cash and $10,000 worth of in-kind prizes.

  • The Africa Prize, sponsored by Salesforce.com, is at least $1,000 of cash and/or in-kind services to the top competition entrant from the African continent.

  • Enjuba Young Entrepreneur Prizes, sponsored by Enjuba, are $1,500 to the top team and $500 to the runner up team whose management teams are under the age of 25. The prizes also come with ten hours of consulting (1st place) and 5 hours (runner up) from the founders of Enjuba, Henry Manice and Wil Keenan.

  • The Sustainable Agriculture Prizes will be at least $1,000 of cash and/or in-kind services for he businesses determined to have the most impact in the area of sustainable agriculture.

  • The Telecomm Prizes will be at least $1,000 of cash and/or in-kind services for businesses making the most effective use of mobile phones and/or the internet (including social media) to address social and/or environmental challenges.

  • The San Francisco Bay Area Prizes at least $5,000 of cash and/or in-kind services will go to businesses based in the greater San Francisco Bay area.

  • The New York City Area Prizes, sponsored by Catchafire, will offer at least $1,000 of cash and/or in-kind services to the top businesses based in the greater New York City area.

  • The Philadelphia Prizes will be at least $1,000 of cash and/or in-kind services for businesses based in the greater Philadelphia area.

Experienced executives who have successfully walked the path of financial viability with a social mission and who are interested in help the next generation do so are encouraged to learn more about our judging process at: http://www.williamjamesfoundation.org/judging or by contacting us at judges@williamjamesfoundation.org.

Mark Albion, a co-founder of Net Impact and a frequent judge for socially responsible business plan competitions, says that "[The WJF's] process and scorecard are truly first rate, better than other competitions I am involved with."

Organizations and individuals with the desire and ability to provide sponsorships and investments to the next great ideas should contact our executive director, Ian Fisk, at ian.fisk@williamjamesfoundation.org.

For more information, please contact:

Ian Fisk Executive Director
Phone: 202 365 4570
Fax: (202) 403 3402

For more from this organization:

Mentor Capital Network


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