Winners crowned at Dragons’ Den for Social Entrepreneurs

Four teams of social entrepreneurs recently battled it out at the Faculty in front of an industry panel to claim a $5,000 investment in their business idea. The four teams had won through to the Grand Final from a group of eight teams who had all presented in the Preliminary Finals.

First up to present in front the panel was The Village Gate with their detailed proposal to enhance child care for migrant communities in Melbourne. This was followed by Earth Justice Lawyers and their plan to provide cost effective legal advice for environmental issues. E-Condom next faced the panel with their IT hardware plan to funnel donations to stop HIV transmission from mothers to babies in Africa, followed by Get Fit for Good and their plan to game-ify fitness for the overweight.

Each of the teams faced a grilling from the industry panel which was composed of well-known social entrepreneur and FBE alum Simon Griffiths of Shebeen and Who Gives a Crap fame, along with Libby Ward-Christie from Social Traders, Michael Kerr from Kerr Capital and sellyourownsmallbusiness.com, and Chris Haggerty from Bendigo Bank. After an in-depth consultation by the panel it was decided that the $5,000 investment by Bendigo Bank and James Murphy from Kere Kere would be shared between E-Condom and Village gate with E-Condom named the winners.

For the members of the teams who participated it was a unique experience as Andrew Pascoe from Village Gate highlighted, ‘while it was quite daunting delivering to some of Australia’s social enterprise heavyweights, doing so gave us invaluable feedback, and vindicated that we might just have a business idea that works. Their investment will not only help us to refine and prove up our business model, it has given us the confidence and seal of approval we need to take The Village Gate out into the real world. UniMelb is to be commended for fostering the next generation of social entrepreneurs in a really practical context.’E-Condom and Village Gate’s social enterprise models won out because of their combination of social benefit and financial viability’, stated Dr Ben Neville, who teaches the dedicated social entrepreneurship course here at the Faculty. For the members of the E-Condom and Village Gate teams the investment allows them the opportunity to build on their innovative ideas. Both teams are committed to using the seed funds to further develop their plans, with E-Condom already setting up meetings with the judging panel for more detail advice. Libby Ward-Christie from Social Traders has also offered their services in a formal mentoring role.

From the coffee shop on campus House of Cards (formerly Kere Kere)to FBE alum Simon Griffiths to Dr Neville’s dedicated social entrepreneurship course, the University of Melbourne is a hub of activity in a sector that is changing not how we do business but ‘why’ and ‘who’ we do business for.

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