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Evanston-based SHAREcircle took home the top prize in the 2013 NBI Case Competition. The nonprofit is working to fund a university in Angola by revitalizing coffee production.

Taking Initiative

Smart growth

In the NBI Case Competition, students win top prize for SHAREcircle, an Evanston nonprofit working to fund higher ed in Angola through coffee production

By Daniel P. Smith

1/14/2013 -

Kellogg students know that strong communities are good for business.

In the Neighborhood Business Initiative Case Competition, the students who made the biggest difference in the bottom line also stand to make the biggest difference in the lives of community members around the world.

At the Jan. 9 competition, five finalist teams presented their plans to strengthen local organizations with missions as diverse as autism awareness and math education.

Through NBI, more than 120 Kellogg students assisted 26 organizations throughout the fall 2012 quarter. While Kellogg students gained hands-on experience addressing their assigned organizations’ most pressing challenges, the organizations received cost-effective access to objective perspective and actionable ideas. The students competed for a $1,000 prize on behalf of the organizations they worked with.

“The common thread throughout these organizations is that they are small, socially minded and financially constrained,” NBI Case Competition organizer Sagar Desai ‘13 said.

Capturing top honors: SHAREcircle
All 26 NBI teams submitted a final presentation to the Case Competition Committee in December. Five finalist teams were then selected to present at the Jan. 9 competition.

Assessing each presentation’s professionalism, research depth and practicality, judges Jon Kaplan of the Boston Consulting Group, Carla Esteva ’06 of Civic Consulting Alliance and Kellogg Professor of Social Enterprise Don Haider awarded the top prize to SHAREcircle. The Evanston-based nonprofit is working to fund a university in Angola by revitalizing coffee production, a once-mighty national export.

Five rookie students — Nicole Christopoulos, Marisa Reardon, Stina Haerum, Utibe Bassey and team captain Napat Phichaphop — provided SHAREcircle with a thorough analysis of finances, market opportunities, production challenges and more. For its winning presentation, the group secured a $1,000 prize for SHAREcircle.

“SHAREcircle is a unique venture and one that easily inspires a passionate response,” Phichaphop said, acknowledging the project’s compelling mix of for-profit and nonprofit elements.

Esteva was impressed by the winning team’s analysis, recommendations and presentation.

“They had a difficult task because the scope of the project was so large, yet they managed it well and provided just what the client needed,” Esteva said.

Social entrepreneurship at work
The four other case competition finalists included:

  • Autism Awareness Campaign Through International Organizations Networking (AACTION Autism), which provides autism training for educators and social workers around the globe 
  • Tiz Media Foundation, which teaches math and science through hip hop
  • Zealous Goods, a web-based enterprise that connects nonprofits with donors for goods and services
  • And competition runner up, Casa Central, a Chicago-based agency focused on self-sufficiency and quality of life among Hispanics

Esteva called the NBI consulting experience — one that saw students outline paths to improved operations, strategy and financial sustainability for their partner organizations — a dynamic opportunity for students to enhance their leadership and collaborative skills while creating impact.

“It’s valuable anytime students can get a clear connection between what they’re learning in the classroom and how it can impact the world,” she said.

Further Reading

Socially minded 

Supporting a Sustainable Mission