Social Innovation Solution Competition

The Social Innovation Solution Competition (SISC) offers BYU students from various disciplines the opportunity to come together and apply their skills to help solve real-time issues for an organization that has partnered with the Ballard Center.

Register Now

What is the Social Innovation Solution Competition?

A solution competition is an event in which teams of students have the opportunity to analyze and solve a social entrepreneurship organization’s real-world problems. 

How is this related to refugees?

Numerous BYU students are interested in helping refugees. They also have a variety of interesting perspectives and skills to offer. Knowing this, the directors of the competition this year chose to find a refugee-focused organization that was creating real impact and are partnering with them to present a refugee-focused solutions competition.


Refugees are often unable to assimilate into new countries as they’d like because they lack a local network and don’t have enough resources to learn the language. This often prevents them from finding work fit to their talents and skills.

Social entrepreneur and Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree Nathanael Molle founded an organization named SINGA with a vision of helping refugees in Paris integrate into the local community by connecting them with French citizens who share similar interests. He set up one-on-one meetings between a handful of refugees and Parisians and found that these regular meetings helped refugees develop a network and learn the language. All of the refugees in this initial group gained confidence, developed friendships, and found jobs to match their skill set.

SINGA has since grown in Paris to 20,000 active volunteers. SINGA now hosts and facilitates advertising for events that connect local citizens and refugees in addition to connecting refugees with housing via hosts who have similar personal interests and professional ambitions. Because SINGA was so successful in Paris, it expanded to other French cities and has launched in five other countries with different programs suited to the most impactful results in each.

Philanthropists have a great desire to see impact when donating large sums of money and many have identified Nathanael’s work as especially impactful and are interested to see SINGA grow. Nathanael is hopeful that the solutions competition will help him with ideas on how to do so.

Once you register, you will be provided with a “challenge document” that outlines:

  • SINGA’s history – including Nathanael’s vision and the initial growth in Paris and expansion into other cities in France
  • SINGA’s culture
  • Countries in which SINGA has and hasn’t been particularly successful
  • Reasons for varying levels of success
  • Investors’ interest in SINGA
  • The specific problem concerning SINGA’s growth that Nathanael is considering regarding growth

It will be about 10-15 pages and include appendices. With teammates, participants will perform research on the challenge and potential solutions and create a presentation of that solution.

The document is written by the directors of the solutions competition who traveled to the organization to gather data and build a comprehensive summary of the organization, its history, and the issue to be addressed in the competition. This allowed the directors to become content experts on the issue so they can serve as mentors to you and your team throughout the competition and after each round. This also ensures quality in the competition submissions to contribute to the eventual solution for SINGA.

Round 1: Register by Friday, February 3, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. You’ll have until Mon, February 13 at midnight to submit your solution. The required format for solutions is a PowerPoint (or Prezi, etc) presentation with voiceover. Presentation should be 10 minutes or less.

Announcement of semi-finalists: February 16

Feedback for all teams: February 17 – February 22. If you’re interested in feedback on your solution, the competition team will sit down with your team for thirty minutes to discuss elements that were particularly valuable and elements that needed improvement.

This is required for semifinalists, who will be asked to provide more depth in certain aspects of their solution for the next round.

Round 2 (semifinals): Live on February 23. Each semifinalist team will present their solution to Nathanael and other social entrepreneur judges for fifteen minutes and answer questions from the judges for fifteen minutes.

Feedback for semi-finalist teams: Additional feedback for the teams will be given that evening by Nathanael at dinner at Tucanos.

Round 3 (finals): Live on February 24.  Each semifinalist team will present their solution to Nathanael and other social entrepreneur judges for fifteen minutes and answer questions from the judges for fifteen minutes.

In terms of creating solution, teams provide an incredible opportunity to brainstorm (a few heads are better than one), validate ideas, and get more work done by dividing responsibilities.

SINGA is very collaborative. We hope you will be too! Enjoy the opportunity to work with other BYU students from other disciplines or from your own.

Teams must be 3-5 BYU students.

We’re happy to connect you with other people who are interested in participating but don’t have a team. Register and indicate that you don’t have a team and you’ll be able to tell us a little more about your situation.

Register here.


  • You’ll learn to look at the world differently by developing solutions for far-reaching challenges while receiving feedback and mentorship regarding those solutions at each round of assessment
  • You’ll work in a team of three to five BYU students whose ideas will spur and improve your own
  • Whether or not a semifinalist, your ideas may be passed on to the founder for implementation
  • If a semifinalist, you’ll be able to present your ideas to the founder of the organization in person along with other social entrepreneur judges


  • Semifinalists receive dinner at Tucanos on February 23
  • Third place team will receive $1,000
  • Second place team will receive $3,000
  • Winning team will win $5,000

Please don’t hesitate to contact us at Seriously, we’re interested in your concerns and if we can resolve them.

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.