Oxford Youth Business Development Competition

In support of social entrepreneurship, please see the announcement below. It’s for youth aged between 16 and 21, and I will be glad to exchange eMails with any young African who wishes to apply and may need some support. This doesn’t mean influencing the process, but helping to fill obvious gaps…

Dear Youth Educators, Community Leaders and Young People,

On behalf of the students of the University of Oxford, Saïd Business School, we are honoured to invite you to participate in the second international:

Youth Business Development (YBD) Competition YBD is based on the business plan course run on the world-renowned Oxford MBA programme, in which teams of MBA students develop original business ideas with the help of faculty and consultants. Inspired by the energy and excitement of this process, the Oxford MBA Class has committed to bring a similar experience to young people from across our diverse international home communities. The objectives of this are both to catalyze the development of new social enterprises, and to leverage the many skills and experiences of Oxford’s MBA students t owards helping young people from diverse backgrounds develop confidence, life skills and understanding of business enterprise and its potential for social change. It is open to ALL young people, irrespective of background or education.

For Round 1, we invite all teams to submit their ideas for enterprises with a social focus by 31st March 2007. Round 2 will provide a select number of teams the opportunity to further develop their ideas in a 7-10 page submission during the summer whilst being mentored by an Oxford MBA student. The YBD is a unique opportunity for young people around the world to gain business planning, team working and communications skills which will be vital to their future development prospects and selfesteem. In addition they will gain valuable insights into the world of social enterprise, with the Saïd Business School’s Skoll Centre & Oxford University being amongst the world’s leading centres for research and teaching on the subject. Our prize fund of £2,000 gives the chance for top applicants to start putting their ideas into practice. We also offer second round Finalists the unique opportunity of being mentored by MBA students, and thereby becoming part of our broad social and business network. Ongoing mentoring (after the competition ends) will also be provided to shortlisted finalists to continue their development and learning through a continued relationship with Oxford students.

Each team is required to have a Local Liaison Mentor. This provides the competition organisers with a neutral point of contact in each locality and for each team. If you are a Youth Educator or Community Leader, you have been identified through the Oxford University, Saïd Business School network as someone who might be interested in supporting the competition in your institution or area by acting as a Local Liaison Mentor. If so, we would heartily encourage you to support us in taking our competition and the opportunities it offers to young people wherever they may be and whatever their background. If you are a young person aged 16-21 and are interested in submitting an application in Round 1 of the competition then please identify in your application the details of a person in your local community who is willing to act as your Local Liaison Mentor.

Enclosed with this letter you will find further details on the entry requirements for the competition, answers to common queries and a flyer which you are welcome to print off and put up in your local area or institution. Please also be sure to look at our website which provides more information about the competition, social entrepreneurship and the Said Business School as well as other resources to help teams develop their ideas. The website can be found at: www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/OBA/se/ybd. We hope you are as excited about the potential of the YBD competition as we are and look forward to receiving entries from your locality before the first round deadline of 31st March 2007.

With thanks,
The YBD Management Committee

Requirements for Round 1 (which is due on March 31, 2007 and to be sent by eMail to ybd@oba.co.uk) include:

  1. 1 page idea summary

    • What is your idea?
    • What problem is it trying to solve?
    • Who benefits and how?
  2. 1 page application form (download here), including in less than 300 words a brief background of your team together with a summary of the benefit you would gain in being mentored by an Oxford MBA student if you reach the second round of the competition.

Additional information on the competition follows:

What are the Team and Age Restrictions?
All team members must be aged between 16 and 21 during the course of 2007. Each team must have 3 to 5 members.

Who can be a Local Liaison Mentor?
Ideally this would be someone working in a position of responsibility with young people such as a teacher, University lecturer, social worker, youth group worker, religious leader or other community leader. The role will be to act as a contact point for the competition organizers, to assist teams in the production of their initial ideas, and if necessary to confirm status of team members and specific aspects of project ideas.

How should we present our idea?
Teams may use any combination of words, pictures and diagrams, but the Idea Summary is limited to 1 page ONLY. If you are able to structure your entry in line with the questions shown in the box above then it will make it easier for the judging panel to assess your ideas. In addition you should provide us with the Application Form enclosed, including your 300-word “background and benefits” section.

What if we need further guidance? Who should we contact?
In the first instance you should review the more detailed Frequently Asked Questions page on our website. In addition Regional Coordinators are available for you to contact with more specific queries. In Round 1 teams are also free to seek the advice of their Local Liaison Mentor to test their ideas. Teams are encouraged to have fun, take a chance, and just get their idea out there!

What language can we submit in?
We have limited capacity for assessing multiple entries in languages other than English. If possible, you should submit your ideas in English. If you cannot then you should contact your Regional Coordinator (see website for contact details) and ask them if assistance is available for translating submissions from a language other than English.

How will ideas be judged in Round 1?
Our key criteria for judging which teams will progress from Round 1 to be mentored in Round 2 are:

  • The quality of the idea proposed and its potential for further development
  • The benefit the team will gain in having an MBA student help develop their idea
  • The personal benefit team individuals will receive from the experience of a close ongoing interaction with an MBA mentor

Summaries will be judged on the quality of the idea, not the fanciness of the language. We favour simple, clear, plain talk. Remember, this is not about ideas which make lots of money (though that would be a bonus!) but those which have the potential to improve the lives of those in your community, or the environment in which you live.

Any other advice for Round 1 entries?
Do not try to think too big. Many of the most effective social enterprises work at the local level. See our website for Finalists from the 2006 competition as examples. Think about issues which you observe in the communities and world around you. Think about the tools you may be able to use to provide solutions to these problems. Remember that the objective is to deliver social value alongside, or in the place of, pure financial profit. Ideas may range from a new technology or product through to a new way of working in an old industry that delivers more social value than today. Social enterprise takes many forms and we do not intend to be too strict in our assessment, but we will certainly look for evidence that you have considered social outcomes in developing your idea. For more information on social enterprise/social entrepreneurship check out our website and that of the Skoll foundation (www.skoll.org) which supports Oxford’s Saïd Business School in this area.

What happens in Round 2?
More information will be provided once this stage is reached, but here is a summary of what you should expect. In Round 2, a select number of Finalist Teams chosen from all the entries submitted in Round 1 will be challenged by our YBD Judging Panel to develop the idea further into a 7-10 page formal business plan. At this point each team will be provided with a mentor from the Oxford MBA class who will support the team towards the goal of completing their business plan. Mentors will be allocated to teams on the basis of having appropriate background and expertise matching the team’s idea. Finally, a YBD Venture Capital Panel will review the business plan submitted by each Finalist to determine the 2007 YBD Winner or Winners, the distribution of the £2,000 prize fund and allocation of other awards (all by late September 2007).

Why YBD?
YBD builds on three of the core strengths of Oxford’s Saïd Business School:

  • Social Focus: Saïd Business School hosts the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship (with 9 teaching fellows, and five full scholarships annually for MBAs with impressive track records in social entrepreneurship), and the Oxford Business Network for Social Entrepreneurship (the highest attended student interest group). We view ‘business’ not as a route to personal wealth but as a powerful tool for solving social and economic issues around the globe.
  • Internationalism: 41 countries are represented on the 2006-07 program, making us proud to be one of the most diverse MBA classes in the world. This environment has instilled in us a deep belief in the power and value of international networks. YBD connects young people with others from around the world, in addition to a lifelong MBA global network.
  • Entrepreneurship: roughly 20% of Oxford MBA’s go on to pursue careers as entrepreneurs. We view entrepreneurship as an engine of change and progress in our world. Entrepreneurship is not simply about ‘profit.’ Entrepreneurs invent new solutions in all sectors, e.g. finding new ways to treat blindness among the poor (see www.Ashoka.org) or developing new types of banks and lending policies (see www.lemonbank.com). The leading social entrepreneur, Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank won the 2006 Nobel Prize for Economics. Young people will be ahead of the curve if they develop early entrepreneurial instincts. YBD is an invaluable first step.

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