Innovator Article

Water for Change
Bay Area MBA Team Makes Waves in Hult’s Global Case Challenge

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A business plan to wean consumers from wasteful, plastic-bottled water and toward an ecologically responsible high-quality water and reusable bottle vending machine landed a team of Bay Area Working Professional MBA students in the regional finals of an international social enterprise competition.

Water for Change—which offers water for just that: two quarters to refill a metal bottle—is a blueprint that students John Becker, Randy Bodiford, Jennie Eckardt and David Mun wrote for lecturer Cleveland Justis’ Social Entrepreneurship course last fall.

This year, in partnership with Water.org and the Clinton Global Initiative, Hult challenged business students to develop solutions to the global water crisis.

Their plan was among 130 selected from more than 1,000 applications from the world’s top universities to compete in Hult International Business School’s second annual Global Case Challenge. This year, in partnership with Water.org and the Clinton Global Initiative, Hult challenged business students to develop solutions to the international water crisis.

Today, one in six people lack access to safe drinking water. The UC Davis team’s Water for Change seeks to change that by pledging 25% of the profits from the vending machine sales to help charities bring inexpensive, renewable, clean water to areas where it is most needed.

Winners of regional competitions held March 5 in Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai and Shanghai advanced to a global final in New York City on April 28. At stake: a $1 million prize that will go towards working with Water.org to implement their clean water solutions.

In San Francisco, the UC Davis MBA team went head-to-head against 30 other teams, including Stanford University, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, University of Southern California, National University of Singapore, Pan African University, University of Michigan, University of British Columbia, University of Toronto and the University of Kyiv.

Teams had five hours to craft a compelling solution to a pressing question posed by Water.org and present it to a panel of world-class judges that included Craig Newmark, founder and CEO of Craigslist; Gary White, executive director and co-founder of Water.org; Tamin Pechet, founder of ImagineH2O and CEO of Banyan Water; Stephen Lasky, vice president of business planning at Sephora; and Lynelle Cameron, director of sustainability at Autodesk. Ultimately, Stanford’s team advanced to the finals.

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