March 11, 2008 09:00 ET

S.E.VEN Fund Awards $450,000 in Funds to Recognize Research and Essays Focused on Enterprise Solutions to Poverty

Innovators in International Development Connect the Poor to Networks of Productivity

CAMBRIDGE, MA--(Marketwire - March 11, 2008) - The Social Equity Venture Fund -- S.E.VEN -- (, today announced that it has awarded $450,000 in grants and prizes for two inaugural competitions. The fund awarded four $100,000 grants to winners of its annual RFP competition, a one-year program that invests in innovative research on the topic of enterprise solutions to poverty. Five student winners were recognized with a total of $50,000 in scholarships in a graduate and undergraduate essay competition. Both competitions spotlight important work that aligns with S.E.VEN Fund's mission to advance international efforts to help end poverty by connecting all people to networks of productivity.

RFP competition projects awarded funding include:

--  The first study of the U.S. Military's economic development efforts in
    Afghanistan and Iraq by Mark Milstein, Cornell University's Center for
    Sustainable Global Enterprise;
--  Research into the economic, cultural and psychological indicators of
    entrepreneurial success by Michael Kremer, Harvard University and
    Innovations for Poverty Action;
--  A documentary on the importance of free enterprise in rebuilding
    Rwanda and other post-conflict economies by Jay Richards, The Acton
    Institute; and
--  A study of the factors that influence an individual's ability to
    conceptualize and aspire to a better future or a better life by Tanguy
    Bernard and Alemayehu Seyoum Taffesse, International Food Policy Research
    Institute (IFPRI) and African Centre for Economic and Historical Studies

The five student winners of the essay competition include Karina Robson of the Harvard Divinity School and Gregory Robson of the Harvard Extension School, a husband-wife team who co-wrote the winning essay in the graduate category; and three undergraduate winners, Luke Bueche of Thomas Aquinas College; Clare Halpine of Mount Allison University; and Pin-Quan Ng of Columbia University.

The winners of both competitions were selected through a competitive review process that included a jury of leading business executives, development experts and academics. RFP winners were asked to use rigorous and innovative research approaches to unlock the potential of enterprise-based solutions to poverty. Essay winners addressed the question: "Poverty can be regarded as a matter of exclusion from networks of productivity, and not simply as having an unequal portion of what is imagined to be a fixed number of economic goods. In that sense, ending worldwide poverty is serious business. Describe enterprise-based solutions to poverty in this context."

For more information on the competitions and the winners, and to read excerpts from the winning essays or full summaries of the winning RFP projects, visit the S.E.VEN Fund website at

"These competitions reward innovators and future thought leaders who understand that ending global poverty is serious business. The recipients have all taken an integrative approach to look at poverty from many different angles," said Andreas Widmer, co-founder of the S.E.VEN Fund.

These competitions were funded through a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

About the S.E.VEN Fund

S.E.VEN (Social Equity Venture Fund -- is a virtual non-profit entity run by entrepreneurs Michael Fairbanks and Andreas Widmer whose strategy is to markedly increase the rate of diffusion of enterprise-based solutions to poverty. We do this by targeted investment that fosters thought leadership through books, films and websites; supporting role models -- whether they are entrepreneurs or innovative firms -- in developing nations; and shaping a new discourse in government, the press and the academy around private-sector innovation, prosperity and progressive human values.

About the John Templeton Foundation

The John Templeton Foundation ( serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discovery in the areas engaging life's biggest questions. These questions range from explorations into the laws of nature and the universe to questions on the nature of love, gratitude, forgiveness and creativity.

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