Teaching Social Entrepreneurship Around the Globe

The Clinton Global Initiative University seeks to empower the next generation of leaders

Nov 4, 2019

University students with an entrepreneurial drive are encouraged to develop social initiatives and the results are fascinating!

In 2007, Clinton launched the Clinton Global Initiatives University (CGI U) which enables university students to propose solutions to various issues- both global and local. The program is an offshoot of The Clinton Global Initiative, which operates in fields such as climate change mitigation and adaptation, socio-economic support, public health, and civic engagement.

According to CGI U students are encouraged to build commitments to action which are new social initiatives that are both specific and measurable. Since the onset of the program $3 million have been awarded to over 7,000 commitments. The program provides these young entrepreneurs with mentors, as well as tools to develop strategic partnerships and leadership skills. 

There is no cost to participate in the program and all the students are chosen by a highly selective application process. To be considered, the student must have a deep commitment to take action on a social impact issue called a Commitment to Action and must come up with a plan to solve this issue on their local campus, community or it can be national or global. 

Recently CGI U alumni and other social entrepreneurs gathered in New York City to showcase their initiatives and discuss the impact of their projects. Check out four incredible entrepreneurs that were highlighted in the CGI U directory.

Ruchi Shah (now a medical student at the Renaissance School of Medicine) began inventing an all-natural and affordable bug repellant to prevent mosquito-transmitted diseases when she was 15. Her invention, Mosquitoes Be Gone, is the first repellent that works by neutralizing the compounds in human sweat that attract mosquitoes and masking the scent. Profits from the business will go to subsidizing the product for the rural Indian market and towards educating rural communities about mosquito-transmitted diseases.

Mariam Nusrat Adil an education specialist at the World Bank who has nine years of work experience in South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa is the founder of GRID, which stands for Gaming Revolution for International Development, is a social initiative that, according to their website: “leverages the power of digital games to educate, engage and empower.” The games are designed to encourage positive behavioral changes regarding lifestyle choices such as health, money management, and future planning. GRID created the world's first menstrual health game, a topic that is taboo in many places in the world.

Arnav Dalmia grew up in India and moved to the US in 2009 to attend the University of Chicago. He witnessed the realities of the obesity epidemic in the US and came up with an easy way for people to exercise where they are. Dalmia invented Cubii, is a compact and mobile elliptical that can be used even while sitting down at the office. Cubii has already helped 100,000 people by providing them with an affordable and convenient way to exercise. The patented ergonomic design is especially beneficial for people who have limited mobility. 

Jean Paul Laurent is the founder, chairman and CEO of the Unspoken Smiles Foundation that promotes long-term oral health and economic security among impoverished communities throughout the world. The Spurheal App is a product of the foundation that was established in 2015 and uses data to locate and map free dental services throughout the world.

These initiatives are only a handful out of the thousands of commitments that CGU I entrepreneurs have achieved over the years. It is truly incredible the quality of innovation that we can all achieve when we look around to identify solutions to global problems.

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Hilla Benzaken is a dedicated optimist. Her happy place involves cooking, acting, gardening, and fighting for social justice. She writes about all things sustainability, innovation, and DIY.