Social Innovation Solution Competition

The Social Innovation Solution Competition (SISC) offers BYU students from all over campus the opportunity to come together and apply their skills to help solve real-time issues for one of the Ballard Center’s partner organizations.

What is the Social Innovation Solution Competition?

A solution competition is a two-week event in which teams of students have the opportunity to analyze and solve the real-life problems of a social entrepreneurship organization.

Staff typically travel to the organization, gather data, and conduct research in order to build a comprehensive summary of the organization, its history, and the issue to be addressed in the competition. This allows the staff members to become content experts on the issue and serve as mentors to the teams while ensuring that quality competition submissions will contribute to the eventual solution for the partner.

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Compete. Fight Poverty. Win Money.

The SISC offers BYU students from all disciplines the opportunity to come together in the spring and apply their skills to help solve a real-time problem for one of the Ballard Center’s partner organizations.

Competing students will:

  • Work in a team of three to five students over the course of two weeks
  • Compete against, learn from, and network with top BYU students
  • Network with and learn from successful social entrepreneurs
  • Focus on a real-time issue facing a global entrepreneur’s organization
  • Have the chance to win up to $3,000 in cash, prizes, and TEDxBYU tickets

Partner organizations work with the competition staff to identify a current problem. Staff typically travel to the organization and gather data and research to build a comprehensive summary of the organization, its history, and the issue to be addressed in the competition. This allows the staff members to become content experts on the issue and serve as mentors to the teams, ensuring that quality competition submissions will contribute to the eventual solution for the partner. 

Past Competitions

Fairtrasa (Winter 2016)

The Problem

Fairtrasa is a social enterprise that builds honest, fair and rewarding connections between the consumer and the farmer, based on a shared commitment to high-quality and nutritious food. In partnership with Fairtrasa, subsistence farmers lift themselves out of poverty and grow to be successful agro-entrepreneurs. However, in view of the massive challenge to lift millions of small-scale farmers out of poverty, Fairtrasa needs to take a fresh look at its scaling strategy in order to accelerate its expansion process both on the supply and the sales side.

The Competition

About eighty students from thirty different majors across campus came together to learn about Fairtrasa and apply their skills to solve this problem. Undergraduate students competed alongside graduate students in the semifinal round, which included ideas ranging from creating a spotlight metrics program, generating joint ventures with banks, and taking part of government anti-cocaine programs to give a sustainable alternative to farmers.

Fundación Paraguaya (Winter 2015)

The Problem

Last year’s case competition featured Skoll Foundation awardee, Fundación Paraguaya. Since 1985 this organization has grown to include a highly successful microfinance program, a self-sustaining agricultural school, and many other programs to support its clients. In spite of establishing a strong track record for increasing incomes and having a 98 percent repayment rate on all microloans, people were not getting out of poverty.

In order to make getting out of poverty more manageable and measurable, Fundación Paraguaya created Poverty Stoplight. This program is both a metric and a methodology, breaking poverty down into fifty indicators that clients self-assess as being red, yellow, or green. Now that the organization had a way to track and define poverty, it needed to figure out how to motivate people to take action and begin to transition their indicators to green. 

The Competition

paraguaya1About one hundred students from twelve different majors came together to learn about Fundación Paraguaya and apply their skill set to this problem. Undergraduate students competed alongside graduate students in the semifinal round, which included ideas ranging from bike rental and lottery programs to a poverty stoplight Olympic program that gamified the process to leverage the positive social capital and competitive spirit of the people.

Regardless of which teams made it to the semifinal presentations, all twenty teams contributed to a possible solution, submitting inspiring video presentations which were provided to Fundación Paraguaya.