The Power of Small: Entrepreneurs Strengthening Local Economies
The four winning entries, selected by the Changemakers online community, represent the most innovative strategies that help emerging entrepreneurs and small businesses grow and thrive in underserved communities. The winners will each receive a comprehensive capital, technology and promotion package from SAP – including a cash prize of US $10,000 and a technology donation to optimize performance and scale-up operations.
Read about their solutions below. As always, we welcome your continued feedback on all entries.
With economies around the globe coping with uncertain growth and volatility, underserved communities have become increasingly vulnerable to unemployment, talent flight, capital scarcity, and poverty.
Entrepreneurship has the potential to breathe life into struggling local economies by creating sustainable jobs, fueling economic growth, and mobilizing a wealth of untapped community assets. Because they are deeply connected to local resources and needs, small businesses and emerging entrepreneurs have an unmatched ability to leverage the core competencies of their region, while respecting society’s needs and operating in a responsible and sustainable manner.
Entrepreneurs’ resourcefulness and drive can create sustainable local economies that are vibrant, inclusive, and resilient, and ultimately spur the growth of a larger national or even global market. Despite the significant value they create, emerging entrepreneurs and small businesses often lack the infrastructure they need to reach their full potential and create an even greater impact on society.
To tackle this critical challenge, SAP and Ashoka Changemakers invite you to participate in a global competition: The Power of Small: Entrepreneurs Strengthening Local Economies.
The competition seeks organizations and partnerships that have innovative strategies to help emerging entrepreneurs and small businesses grow and thrive in underserved communities. All finalists will be invited to the SAP SAPPHIRE NOW Conference in Madrid, Spain from November 13-15, 2012, where four winners will be announced. Winners will receive a comprehensive capital, technology and promotion package, which includes a cash prize of US $10,000, a technology donation to optimize performance and scale operations, and promotion and networking opportunities with SAP executives and SAP customers at the SAP SAPPHIRE NOW Conference.
Potential solutions include those that:
- Fulfill the talent needs of small businesses by developing the competencies of underserved job seekers and connecting them to local jobs;
- Build the capacity of emerging entrepreneurs to enable them to scale their businesses;
- Link small businesses to larger supply chains or government resource pipelines;
- Unlock growth financing for established small businesses;
- Facilitate the collaboration of government, nonprofit, and private-sector entities to provide infrastructures that support small business and entrepreneurial growth;
- Help small businesses carry out environmentally and socially-responsible business practices.
Does your organization provide leadership training for women entrepreneurs? Are you filling the “missing middle” with collateral-free and patient loans for small businesses? Have you launched an incubator that helps local startups grow? Then we want to hear from you!
Help the world run better and improve people’s lives. Support entrepreneurship and thriving local economies by entering your solution or nominating one today!
Guidelines, Criteria & Prizes
Who Should Enter
- The competition is open to all organizations and partnerships from around the world.
- Solutions should reflect the theme of the challenge — The Power of Small: Entrepreneurs Strengthening Local Economies —and demonstrate impact within an underserved community or population.
- Entrants should indicate growth beyond the conceptual stage and have demonstrated impact and sustainability.
- We can only accept your entry in English, Spanish, Portuguese, or French.
Why You Should Enter
- Connect with Ashoka Changemakers’ global online community of social entrepreneurs, investors, and enthusiasts, who support the impact you are making on the ground.
- Gain visibility with our community and our competition partner, SAP.
- A chance to win!
What You Can Win
- One of four US$10,000 cash prizes in unrestricted funding to boost your project.
- A technology donation to optimize performance and scale operations from SAP, the world’s market leader in enterprise application software.
- The opportunity to discuss your solution with SAP executives and high profile customers at the SAP SAPPHIRE NOW Conference in Madrid, Spain from November 13-15, 2012.
- One of two early-entry US$500 cash prizes and an advisory session (if you enter before July 25, 2012).
How to Enter
- Take a look at this video or read these step-by-step instructions.
- Read these tips about how to make your entry stand out.
- Please complete the entry form in its entirety and submit by the deadline, 6 p.m. EST on September 5, 2012.
Winners of The Power of Small: Entrepreneurs Strengthening Local Economies will be those that best meet the following criteria:
This is the knock-out test; if the work is not innovative, the judges will not give it a high ranking. The entrant must describe an innovative solution that helps small businesses and entrepreneurs grow and thrive in underserved communities. The best entries will be those that demonstrate a substantial difference from other initiatives in the field and have the possibility for large-scale, global replication.
It is important that the competition entry provides a system-changing solution for the issue it addresses. Some entries will have proven successes at the local level, while others may have already engaged millions of people across the country. Entries should explain how the solution measures social impact through both quantitative and qualitative data. The best solutions will have demonstrated impact, as well as the potential for scaling-up and replication.
For an idea or program to be truly effective, it must have a plan to exist and grow well into the future—a plan to sustain itself. Innovations will be judged on their long-term vision for increasing impact and creating lasting change. Entries should describe how they are currently financing their work, and how they plan to finance their work in the future. The most successful entrants go beyond discussing whether or not they will charge for services and describe a business plan. They should also demonstrate that they have strong partnerships and support networks to address on-going needs, and to aid in scalability and the maintenance of a clear financial strategy.
>> Competition Deadlines, Procedures, and Rules
Online competition submissions are accepted until 6 p.m. EST on September 5, 2012. At any time before this deadline, competition participants are encouraged to revise their entries based on questions and insights that they receive through the Changemakers online discussion. Participation in the conversation enhances an entrant’s prospects in the competition and provides the community and the judges with an opportunity to understand the entrant’s project more completely.
There are four main phases in the competition:
Beginning June 20, 2012, entries can be submitted until 6 p.m. EST on September 5, 2012, and throughout this stage anyone can participate in an online review discussion with the entrants.
- Early Entry Deadline, July 25, 2012: Entries received by 6 p.m. EST on July 25, 2012 are eligible for the Early Entry prize.
- Entry Deadline: September 5, 2012, 6 p.m. EST
Online Review and Finalist Selection
September 5 – October 17, 2012: Online review and discussion continues. Simultaneously, a team of Ashoka staff and shortlisters, followed by a panel of expert judges, nominate the 10-15 best and most innovative entries as finalists.
Voting and Winners Selection
October 22 – November 2, 2012: The Changmakers community votes online to select four winners from the field of finalists.
November 13: Four winners will each receive a comprehensive capital, technology and promotion package from SAP, which includes a cash prize of US $10,000, a technology donation to optimize performance and scale operations, and promotion and networking opportunities with SAP executives and SAP customers at the SAP SAPPHIRE NOW Conference from November 13-15, 2012.
Early Entry Prizes
Early entries received by July 25, 2012 will be eligible to win one of two cash prizes of US $500 and an advisory session with field experts. Being an Early Entry Prize winner does not preclude you from winning the competition in any way, nor guarantee finalist status. All entries will be evaluated on an equal basis at the completion of the entry period according to the Changemakers criteria.
Four winners, as selected by the Ashoka Changemakers online community to best exemplify the competition assessment criteria from the pool of finalists, will each receive a comprehensive capital, technology and promotion package from SAP. This includes a cash prize of US $10,000, a technology donation to optimize performance and scale operations, and promotion and networking opportunities with SAP executives and SAP customers at the SAP SAPPHIRE NOW Conference from November 13-15, 2012.
Winners will be announced November 13, 2012.
Participation in the competition provides the opportunity to receive feedback about your solution from fellow entrants, Changemakers staff, judges, expert commentators, and the Changemakers community. Showcasing your market-based solution, and the challenges involved in creating social impact through community engagement, advises potential investors about how best to maximize the strategic impact of their future investments.
>> Disclaimer—Compliance with Legal Restrictions
Ashoka complies fully with all U.S. laws and regulations, including Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations, export control, and anti-money laundering laws. Any grants will be awarded subject to compliance with such laws. Ashoka will not make any grant if it finds that to do so would be unlawful. This may prohibit awards in certain countries and/or to certain individuals or entities. All recipients will comply with these laws to the extent they are applicable to such recipients. No recipient will take any action that would cause Ashoka to violate any laws. Additionally, Ashoka will not make any grant to a company involved in the promotion of tobacco use.
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