Good ideas are just ideas unless they get implemented. Then they can become solutions.
Students from seven universities became part of the solution last semester as they competed in the "Sales for Social Impact" program, sponsored by 3M Foundation and spearheaded by Acara, a program of the Institute on the Environment.
Their task: To develop a winning marketing plan for a food grinder made by Compatible Technology International, a nonprofit organization that alleviates hunger and poverty in the developing world by designing and distributing simple, life-changing food and water technologies.
Participating schools included DePaul University, University of Houston (shown above holding 2nd place trophy), North Carolina A&T, St. Catherine University, Baylor, Southern, and Indiana University.
DePaul won the competition - part of a semester-long inter-institutional class offered by Acara - with a plan for marketing the grinder in Uganda for grains, cassava and other crops. Currently food in the target market is processed by mortar and pestle, which is inefficient and wastes grain.
Next stop? CTI will implement the best ideas from the students' plans as it works to provide the grinders in markets in need. And students will move on to careers equipped with on-the-ground experience in how to apply sales savvy to making the world a more just and sustainable place.
As one student said after the class: "I thought sales was just about making money, but now I realize it's about helping people."