From the Web: Can this startup use blockchain to brew up more sustainable coffee?

An entrepreneur with a background in verifying the provenance of so-called conflict minerals is applying that expertise to keep tabs on one of the world’s most widely traded commodities: coffee. Tracking this kitchen staple requires a mélange of emerging technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and the internet of things.

The goal of his venture, bext360, is to help coffee buyers automate their dealings with fair-trade farmers, allowing them to more closely track the source and quality of the fair trade beans they’re buying while speeding up payments for local growers.

For buyers, the service promises deeper transparency, as well as a way of automating the verification process. For harvesters and growers — largely women — the service could mean more ready access to investment capital, according to bext360 CEO Daniel Jones.

Learn more (via GreenBiz) >>

A ‘Shark Tank’ for Impact Investing: SEMBA’s Net Impact Chapter Featured

This post was edited by Mike Rama, SEMBA ’17, and originally was featured on Net Impact’s Hub Announcements.

The SEMBA Net Impact chapter held a pitch event described as a “Shark Tank for impact investing.”

Net Impact is an accelerator with chapters across the country that works to orient professionals and students to solve social and environmental challenges. The SEMBA Net Impact chapter is a hybrid chapter at the University of Vermont, Grossman School of Business, focused on bringing together current students, alumni, and community members in an effort to mobilize awareness and action on sustainability.

What makes this chapter stand out is the unique programming that equips its members with the skills and connections to drive impact now and throughout their careers. “Our chapter programming falls under three main categories: skill development, alumni relationships, and building collaborative networks with the community and other academic departments,” says Michael Rama, the Vice-President of the chapter.

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From the Web: Millennials Are Pushing B2B Companies Toward Greater Social Impact

Our economy changes a little every day as Millennials begin to take on more substantial business roles, opening companies and rapidly becoming a larger share of the workforce. It’s no surprise that their spending habits reflect not only in general consumer behavior, but also a shift in B2B sales.

And the major factor that affects how Millennials spend money is a company’s ethical and moral behavior, especially concerning the environment. The flood of Millennials in the B2C and B2B marketplaces is altering the way companies do business. This changes the game for B2B entrepreneurs and sales professionals who are preparing for the future of commerce.

Learn more (via Forbes) >>

Career Tips to Write Home About

This post was written by Aditi Datta, SEMBA ’17

When I was growing up and I’d come back from school, my dad would always ask me: “So, what was the best thing you learned?” This quickly became a running joke in my family, leading my dad to ask the same question when I come back from vacation, after reading a news article and most recently – reaching another milestone in my SEMBA journey.

Tonight, I called my dad and patiently waited for him to ask me what new things I learned today. To his surprise, I started talking about the Alumni Career Panel, which brought together current SEMBA-ites and alumni from cohorts 1 and 2. The goal of the event was for the alumni to provide honest, practical feedback around finding a job and landing the right job.

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Sustainable Condoms from Soil to Sale

This post was written by Leah Perkinson, MPH and SEMBA ’17, and originally appeared in Impakter. It has been adapted for the SEMBA Review

In The Photo: Sustain Condoms Photo Credit: Sustain Natural

Are you looking for a sustainably produced, non-toxic, GMO-free, Fair Trade certified condom? Sustain Natural, the natural sexual health and wellness product supplier, has you covered (literally). In addition to selling condoms, this Vermont-based startup manufactures water-based, organic personal lubricants and chemical-free post-play wipes.

Sustain’s condoms are also nitrosamine-free. Nitrosamines are a class of carcinogenic chemicals that are in products like cosmetics, tobacco, fish, beer, fried foods, meats and rubber. During sex, condoms can leach these chemicals which can be absorbed into the body. Although nitrosamines from condoms contribute to a small percentage of our overall exposure, there’s no reason for them to exist in condoms. In fact, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Population Fund recommended that condom manufacturers minimize the presence of nitrosamines.

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From the Web: Business students willing to sacrifice future salary for good corporate social responsibility: study

More than 90% of business students in a study on corporate social responsibility said they would be willing to sacrifice some percentage of their future salary to work for a responsible employer. A surprising number of 14% are willing to sacrifice more than 40% of their future income to do so.

However business students who were also employed full or part time were willing to sacrifice less of their future income than other participants. Those employed made up more than 60% of participants (30% occupying management positions).

Learn more (via The Conversation) >>

Tackling Sustainability Through Food: How a Burlington Restaurant is Making a Difference

This post was written by Margaret Arzon, SEMBA ’17

In SEMBA, we are encouraged to connect and learn from other social entrepreneurs that are currently driving business to create a social and environmental good. As part of an assignment for our Entrepreneurial Leadership and Mindset class with Dita Sharma, my classmate Julie Allwarden and I sat down with the owner of Pingala restaurant, Trevor Sullivan, to talk about what inspired his business.

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A Recipe for Quick Creativity

This post was written by Adam Berry, SEMBA ’17

What can we do when we need to be creative, but it’s not there? We’ve all had it, be it writer’s block, artist’s block, entrepreneurial block, etc., the dreaded block is a creative type’s worst nightmare. What if we had a way to break through this block that was fun, easy, and took less than 10 minutes to complete? It may sound crazy, but I shared a tool with my SEMBA classmates this March that touched on all these requirements. I call it On Demand Creativity.

The alternative uses task, as it is more commonly named, was created by J.P. Guilford in 1954. At its very core, the task looks at an everyday object and aims to discover alternate uses for that object. For example, a paperclip’s primary use is to bind papers together. A paperclip may alternately become a ring, necklace, or earring. Within eight minutes, alone or in a group, one can look for as many of these uses for a paperclip, or other object, as possible. The aim is number of ideas generated. As a byproduct of looking for the highest number of alternatives, creativity starts to flow. Questions are asked: how many paperclips am I allowed? Can I manipulate them? How much time am I allowed to make the new object? Is it just me or can many people work on this? Over time, assumptions are either created or shattered, and in this brief timeframe, our minds open up to new possibilities and our proverbial creative juices get flowing.

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Iqbal Quadir: Increasing Productivity through Connectivity

This post was written by Brett Spusta, SEMBA ’17

“Connectivity is productivity,” a mantra which has guided entrepreneur Iqbal Quadir to put cell phones in the hands of over 100 million Bangladeshi people. A country once thought to be synonymous with poverty is now seeing unprecedented economic growth due, in part, to the success of Iqbal Quadir and his venture, Grameen Phone, a micro-loan based company which allows those at the base of the pyramid access to modern communication. Iqbal, who is a SEMBA advisory board member, visited the SEMBA class as part of the Entrepreneur in Residence series. He proved to be a model of the disruptive and visionary values that SEMBA represents. He demonstrated that capital is not the source of innovation and development; rather, development is the source for capital.

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From the Web: Heeding the Voice of the Planet: Why CSR Isn’t Enough

Here’s an article by our very own Professor Stuart L. Hart in which he writes about the Jungian concept of enantiodromia and tells us what business must do going forward.

Hart stresses that the majority of corporate growth (and later, profits) comes from new strategic initiatives rather than from the continuing development and improvement of existing businesses.

We must refocus our attention on new, transformational strategic moves (or initiatives). Rather than chasing the fantasy of rating entire corporations as to their “sustainability,” let us instead shift the “unit of analysis” and spend more time understanding (and driving) the Green Leap – new strategic initiatives within corporations focused on leapfrog, clean technology and disruptive new business models that serve and lift the poor.

Learn more >> (via NextBillion)