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New "Sales for Social Impact" is a global competition

Many social ventures have an existing product or service to serve their market but struggle to sell it because most of these enterprises are underfunded, understaffed and work on challenging problems. The Acara Institute in St. Paul recently developed a course with 3M to lend a helping hand.

The “Sales for Social Impact” course is being offered at St. Catherine University’s Center for Sales Innovation — in addition to six other universities in the United States (Baylor, DePaul, Indiana, Houston, North Carolina A&T and Southern) and Makerere University in Uganda — in collaboration with a St. Paul nonprofit Compatible Technology International (CTI).

The course gives students a hands-on case approach to understanding how to develop a sustainable sales plan for a specific international product. A student team is formed at each of the universities offering this course. The teams must present CTI with a sales plan at the end of the semester. CTI will then pick a winning plan or components of several plans to implement.

St. Kate's collaboration
At St. Kate’s, Center for Sales Innovation Director Lynn Schleeter and Assistant Professor of accounting Faye Larson are leading the course. Their students are getting to know the CTI Burr Mill inside out, including identifying a target market. The mill grinds a variety of grains and dried vegetables into flour or grinds nuts into paste or butter.

The St. Kate’s team will develop a plan to sell the food grinder in Uganda. The sales plan must contain an execution summary, a situation analysis, a marketing strategy, a financial strategy, an implementation section and recommendations.

Three Ugandan students at St. Kate’s are taking the course. Latifah Kiribedda, a public health major, says “the class promotes global understanding and cooperation between American and international students.”

“We are making a difference by improving the well being of the people in my country of Uganda, which makes me proud,” Kiribedda says.

Judging begins late November
The judging process is two-tiered. The first round will take place between November 29 and December 4 in class at each university. The judges will be present either in-person or online. Based on this presentation, Acara will decide the teams that will advance to the final round on December 13 at the 3M Innovation Center in St Paul.

Each plan will be judged based on its potential to win the market and to provide considerable social return on investment, its alignment with CTI’s mission and the quality of presentation.

CTI will choose the winner or winners (one plan or components from several plans) — and, subsequently, implement the ideas in Uganda.  

Oct. 28, 2010 by Pauline Oo

See also: Business, , Social Justice, Students