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SPSU students win statewide social business competition

SPSU team poses with Nobel Peace Prize winner after winning competitionMarietta, Ga. (Oct. 20, 2011) – A team of graduate and undergraduate students from Southern Polytechnic State University won first place on Oct. 17 in a business plan competition at the Georgia Social Business and Microcredit Forum that involved 38 teams from 32 colleges and universities across the state.

The forum’s keynote speaker was Dr. Muhammad Yunus, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the microcredit concept, who presented the top award to SPSU for having developed a plan for a workable business to address a critical social issue. The SPSU team created Restoration Trust, a microloan program to help abused women in Marietta break the cycle of violence by reshaping their lives via educational pursuits and enterprise.

“Our students did a wonderful job in the three short weeks they had to put together a business plan and presentation. I was proud to be there to see them win against some very strong competition,” said Dr. Zvi Szafran, vice president for Academic Affairs.

Sonal Doshi, a student in the Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) program, and Fred Arnold, an MBA student, presented SPSU’s business plan in two different rounds of competition judged by the leaders of companies such as the Kimberly Clark Corporation, Starbucks, PayPal, Church’s Chicken, the Intel Corporation and Motorola. The rest of the student team included: Lauren Tyus, an honors student in the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration program; James (Ben) Fulghum, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration; Joelle Day, MSA; Arthur Vaughn, MSA; Christopher Estrada, MBA; Rebecca Stringer, MBA; Sana Yasmeen, a high school, dual-enrollment, honors biology student; and Tiane McKoy, a student in the Bachelor of Apparel and Textiles program.

Their faculty advisors were: Don Ariail, associate professor of accounting; Greg Quinet, assistant professor of management; Joyce McGriff, associate professor of marketing; and Sandra Vasa-Sideris, professor of management.

The University System of Georgia organized the Georgia Social Business and Microcredit Forum in collaboration with a number of other state agencies to bring together economic development interests from all regions of the state to hear Dr. Yunus’ social business concept of combining business know-how with the desire to improve quality of life. The University System’s students were challenged to develop business solutions to pressing local and state issues to illustrate social business in action.

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