Oxford celebrating 10 years of Skoll Scholarships’ impactful social innovators

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The Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Saïd Business School is celebrating ten years of the Skoll scholarships, providing financial support for up to five students a year to join the Oxford MBA and pursue entrepreneurial solutions for urgent social and environmental challenges.

Established in 2004, the selection process for the scholarships is challenging and rigorous with the Centre looking for individuals who can both demonstrate a strong track record in a social venture and who wish to improve their knowledge of market-oriented practices to increase the effectiveness of their venture to achieve real world impact.

‘We are looking for unique individuals with the single-mindedness and persistence to pursue their social venture goals and the resilience to face failure and rebuild, as do most of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs’ said Dr Pamela Hartigan, Director of the Skoll Centre. ‘We seek those with unfailing determination to explore the environment for opportunities and resources and to take action. We are looking for entrepreneurial leaders with the personal qualities necessary to achieve success: many of our scholars show a selfless willingness to take personal, and sometimes financial, risks to pursue their goals and have an unwaivering vision of the possible.’

The Skoll Centre provides a rich environment for social entrepreneurs, giving the scholars access to insights from world-renowned entrepreneurs, thought-leaders and investors as well as leading-edge academic research which the students can utilise to amplify their impact. The Skoll Centre offers varied opportunities to engage with countless activities for those who are eager to start or grow their own social ventures, or work in the growing ecosystem of organisations supporting social entrepreneurial ventures.

The network of 48 scholars, now working in a variety of roles around the world, offers a further rich source of experience, support and connections for the incoming scholars each year, to help them advance their social change pursuits. ‘Every year they come together in Oxford to reconnect, share their respective challenges and support one another and recommit to deploying their talents to improve the state of the communities in which they work’ said Dr Hartigan. The achievements of the 48 scholars are varied with some setting up pioneering, financially sustaining social businesses that bring energy to the poorest in rural and urban areas; others bringing the advances of mobile telephony to transfer credit to growing businesses in Africa; others setting up businesses that employ the "unemployable" and others working in the growing impact investing ecosystem.’

Full details of the Skoll scholars can be seen here.

‘Social entrepreneurs have helped make the world a more sustainable, peaceful, and prosperous place,’ said Jeff Skoll, Chairman of the Jeff Skoll Group, which includes the Skoll Foundation, Skoll Global Threats Fund, Participant Media, and Capricorn Investment Group. He is also founder of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Saïd Business School.

‘For 10 years, the Skoll Centre has been supporting the Skoll Scholars and their entrepreneurial ideas for solutions to urgent social and environmental problems. The Skoll Centre, its classes, and the Skoll Scholars have given Saïd Business School students an insight into social issues and solutions. Many Saïd students have left the business track to create social enterprises. It’s been exciting and heartening for me to meet with the Scholars each year and have their aspirations for the future shine a hopeful light on the path to social progress.’

‘Over these 10 years, the Skoll Centre has also been a steadfast partner to the Skoll Foundation in evolving the Skoll World Forum into the premier global, cross-sector convening on social change.’

Dr Pamela Hartigan added : ‘Today we have 48 alumni who have fulfilled our aspirations for what we hoped our graduates would go on to achieve. In celebrating the tenth anniversary, I look back to the launch of the programme when Jeff Skoll saw the increasing need for entrepreneurial approaches to social problems and for new models for a new century. This has been a landmark scholarship that has set the tone for Saïd’s vision: to be a world class business school community, embedded within a world class university, tackling world scale challenges’ .

‘Our Skoll Scholars, along with our Pershing Square, Rhodes, Saïd Foundation and alumni scholars, help us to assemble a vibrant, multidimensional community at Oxford, pursuing a wide range of courses’ said Professor Peter Tufano, Dean of Saïd Business School.

The School has recently welcomed the next four Skoll scholars onto the Oxford MBA programme, each of whom has demonstrated their track record in providing innovative, pragmatic solutions to some of society’s most intractable problems.

The four new Scholars for 2014-15 are:

1. José Miguel Alfaro Gómez of San Jose, Costa Rica. José is an Attorney at Law in Costa Rica and Founder of s.e.e.d., a boutique law firm targeted to social businesses in Costa Rica. As Partner at s.e.e.d. José coordinates the legal affairs of outstanding social businesses in various fields such as sustainability, conservation, microfinance, fair trade, culture, education, volunteering, health, sports and development.
He also actively promotes social responsible investments and the enhancement of social businesses ecosystem in Costa Rica. José holds a Juris Doctor Degree of the University of Costa Rica.

2. Patrick Beattie of Anchorage, Alaska, USA. Patrick has focused his career on using novel technology to address unmet needs in Global Health and Global Development. He comes to Oxford after six years at Diagnostics For All (DFA), a nonprofit medical diagnostics development company which he steadily grew from a virtual, single-employee start-up into an established laboratory performing innovative research
and development with field operations in Africa and Asia. Patrick also served as a US Peace Corps volunteer in The Gambia and Guinea. He and holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University.

3. Nikhil Nair of Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh in India. Nikhil comes to Oxford with over 6 years of experience in the solar industry. Having worked with rural markets in India and East Africa, he is extremely passionate about delivering sustainable energy services to such markets. After spending a couple of years at a Solar Cell and Module manufacturing plant in the UAE, Nikhil moved back to India and spent the next three years working at the social enterprise SELCO Solar. At SELCO, Nikhil managed expansion into new geographies and lead projects such as solar powering rural milk testing centers, vaccine storage boxes for rural clinics, low cost computing solutions , community mobile charging centers and the Solar Education-Bus project. Nikhil is a currently a consultant to M-KOPA Solar, Kenya, where he works with the sales team on scaling the delivery of solar energy systems into rural Kenya. Nikhil holds a degree in Business Management from Christ University, India.

4. Nora Petty has spent the past seven years committed to ending deaths caused by malaria, working with the Clinton Health Access Initiative and the Malaria Consortium. In order to reach underserved populations, she designed and led innovative public-private partnerships to reduce prices and increase availability of malaria diagnostic tests and medicines in private sector outlets. Through these programmes, millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa have been able to afford high-quality, life-saving treatments.

For further information or to speak with Dr Pamela Hartigan or one of the Skoll scholars please contact the press office:

Clare Fisher, Head of Public Relations, Saïd Business School
Mobile: +44 (0) 7912 771090; Tel: 01865 288968
Email: clare.fisher@sbs.ox.ac.uk

Josie Powell, Press Officer, Saïd Business School
Mobile +44 (0)7711 387215, Tel: +44 (0) 1865 288403
Email: josie.powell@sbs.ox.ac.uk

Notes to editors

1    About the Skoll scholars

2    About the Skoll Centre

3    About Saïd Business School
Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford blends the best of new and old. We are a vibrant and innovative business school, but yet deeply embedded in an 800 year old world-class university. We create programmes and ideas that have global impact. We educate people for successful business careers, and as a community seek to tackle world-scale problems. We deliver cutting-edge programmes and ground-breaking research that transform individuals, organisations, business practice, and society. We seek to be a world-class business school community, embedded in a world-class University, tackling world-scale problems.

In the Financial Times European Business School ranking (Dec 2013) Saïd is ranked 12th. It is ranked 14th worldwide in the FT’s combined ranking of Executive Education programmes (May 2014) and 23rd in the world in the FT ranking of MBA programmes (Jan 2014). The MBA is ranked 5th in Businessweek’s full time MBA ranking outside the USA (Nov 2012) and is ranked 5th among the top non-US Business Schools by Forbes magazine (Sep 2013). The Executive MBA is ranked 23rd worldwide in the FT’s ranking of EMBAs (Oct 2013). The Oxford MSc in Financial Economics is ranked 7th in the world in the FT ranking of Masters in Finance programmes (Jun 2014). In the UK university league tables it is ranked first of all UK universities for undergraduate business and management in The Guardian (Jun 2013) and has ranked first in nine of the last ten years in The Times (Sept 2013). For more information, see http://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/


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Clare Fisher
University of Oxford
+44 1865288879
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Josie Powell
University of Oxford
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