A recent visit to Hult International Business School in Cambridge, MA got me all excited about entrepreneurs-in-the-making interested in social infrastructure. A number of competitions fuel the interest – Hult runs one endorsed by Bill Clinton and the first prize is $1million.
HH Sheika Moza of Qatar runs a competition focused on innovation in global education. There are many more. But ideas need financing to become businesses. Too many of the good social improvement ideas generated through competitions are unsustainable – not because they are bad ideas but because they neglect the financing part of their story.
So what is the point of these competitions? Sure, some have pilot character; there are lessons to be learned. But who bears that cost of failed pilots? The farmers? The children? The patients?
I applaud all efforts to promote entrepreneurship in the social infrastructure arena but I am not entirely convinced by the lack of reflection on matters of finance going into the proposals.