Social Venture Challenges

Join us in solving the world’s most pressing social problems!

Social problems exist locally and globally. The best way to participate in solving social problems is by understanding them deeply enough that you can understand the context that they exist in, the various factors that contribute to the problem, the consequences of the problem, and the organizations and practices that exist to solve the problem. Then, you can take better action on helping to solve the social problem.

The Social Venture Challenge seeks to attract students from all majors, backgrounds, and career paths to come together and create solutions to some of the world’s most pressing social issues. Teams may select one of the specified challenges or target a social issue of their choice. During the beginning stages, social venture teams work with the social venture challenge team to correctly target the problem, test multiple solutions, and validate their venture. When teams have fulfilled the criteria for receiving a $2,000 grant to continue testing their solutions, they are expected to pitch their solution to a panel of judges. If students win funding they will then graduate from the Social Venture Challenge and move into the Social Venture Academy where they will receive guidance in further developing their venture in order to qualify for up to $22,000 of additional funding.

View our growing list of challenges in the following tabs.

“WHEN YOU INVEST IN A WOMAN YOU TRANSFORM A SOCIETY” – Melinda Gates

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 810 women died every day in 2017 while pregnant or during childbirth due to preventable causes. Ninety-four percent of these deaths occur in developing countries. Improved care before, during, and after childbirth can increase the likelihood of successful deliveries; however women in low-income areas often lack access to health care and receive inadequate services that fail to prevent severe bleeding, high blood pressure, infections, and preeclampsia. The reasons for lack of treatment and causes of death vary from country to country and from clinic to clinic. We want you to improve maternal healthcare by implementing a solution to one of the issues specified below. 

Maternal mortality is highest among women living in rural areas and poorer communities in developing countries. More than half of these deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa and close to one third in South Asia. Young adolescent girls are at highest risk, with complications in pregnancy and birthing as one of the leading causes of their deaths in developing countries. Most of these complications are preventable or treatable and could be avoided in more developed settings. Severe bleeding post childbirth, infections, high blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia and eclampsia), complications from delivery, and unsafe abortions account for 75% of all deaths.1

The most common factor among maternal/newborn death is an absence of skilled health providers. Forty million women every year give birth unattended. Researchers have found that the best way to aid these mothers is in better training and employing community health workers. These individuals are trained on basic concepts to keep expecting women and new mothers and their babies healthy; however, these basic concepts are only effective if the community health workers can maintain regular visits to their assigned women. 

The newborn death rate could be cut in half if mothers followed simple practices such as exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of their baby’s life. Some of the benefits include a lower risk of gastrointestinal infection and infection from contaminated liquids for the infant, plus healthier growth rates. Breastfed children are six times more likely to survive than those who are not breastfed; however, only 36% of infants are exclusively breastfed worldwide. In developing countries, the lack of exclusive breastfeeding and negligence of breastfeeding initiation within the first hour make up 800,000 deaths of children under five every year. 

There are many specific issues within the realm of maternal/newborn health that a strong social venture could be built around. We have only chosen a few of the main issues to highlight here. You are welcome to pick an issue related to maternal/newborn health and target a specific problem within this topic, test multiple solutions, and create a sustainable social venture model.

 “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” — Emma Lazarus

A refugee is a person who has fled their own country because they are at risk of serious human rights violations and persecution. Though there is no universally accepted definition of a migrant, we see that some migrants leave their country seeking work, educational opportunities, and family. Others leave due to poverty, political unrest, gang violence, natural disasters, and other serious circumstances. Therefore, all refugees are migrants but not all migrants are necessarily refugees. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are an estimated 70.8 million refugees in the world. In total, one in seven people in the world are migrants. They come from every continent and every circumstance. Whether they be Venezuelan refugees in Honduras, Afghan migrants in the United States, Liberian refugees in Côte d’Ivoire, or Syrian refugees in Greece, we want to empower you to improve their quality of life through implementing a solution to one of the issues specified below.

Refugee and migrant needs are as diverse as their backgrounds. However, one common need they all share is dignity and empowerment. This can be achieved for most refugees and migrants in any country or situation is by providing them with employment and vocational training opportunities.  According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, “After fleeing war or persecution, the opportunity to work and earn a living is one of the most effective ways people can rebuild their lives with dignity and in peace.”

There are many specific issues within the realm of refugee and migrant issues that a strong social venture could be built around. We have only chosen a few of the main issues to highlight here. You are welcome to pick an issue related to refugee/migrant empowerment and target a specific problem within this topic, test multiple solutions, and create a sustainable social venture model.

 In February 2018, the World Health Organization reported that more than 800 women die worldwide every day due to preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Students who participate in the Social Venture Maternal Health Challenge propose technology-related solutions to lower the mortality rate for pregnant mothers.

I was left on a doorstep outside an orphanage in Hefei, China. My village was infested with pollution, disease, and overpopulation, so my birth mother left me hoping that someone could provide what she could not.

Even lifting the spatula to fry a chicken patty started to feel heavy. After returning from my mission, I struggled to find meaning in my Chik-Fil-A job. Five hours after handing in my apron and black hat, I found an opportunity that would change my life and thousands of others.

After nearly a year of competition, judges declared Team Cambodia the winner of the Ballard Center’s Y-Prize Newborn Challenge, awarding $50,000 to a team of BYU students who presented the strongest business plan to improve and market a BYU-engineered, low-cost infant ventilator for hospitals in developing countries.

Please contact ballardchallenge@byu.edu with any questions.