If you attended the CWS Benefit on August 30th, then you already know about CWS’ newest endeavor: The CWS Social Enterprise Competition! The competition officially launched the day after the Benefit at a workshop for CWS Fellowship Program Alums, where we challenged them to come up with social enterprise solutions that meet the needs they saw in their fellowship village. To the left is the competition announcement that we sent to our alums back in May!
Over the past 2 months, CWS Co-Founder, Chuck, and I have been mentoring 6 teams of Fellow Alums, helping them develop their social enterprise ideas and craft 10-minute pitches. Last Friday, the teams presented their pitches via webex to a panel of 5 judges (Sarah Wood, Ryn Miake-Lye, Derek Brine, Laura McGorman and Addy Awofisayo), and after a difficult dilberation, 3 finalists were selected!
On November 9th, competition finalists, Mark Moermans, Ben Powell, Zoe Anderson, Kelsey Barton-Henry, Alex Zorniger, and Michelle Butler, will be traveling to Boston to pitch live to a new panel of judges and compete for a $10,000 Prize to pilot their social enterprise in one of CWS’ partner villages in Ghana. We’re so proud of our finalists, who are aiming to solve very dire needs ranging from access to electricity to santitation to malnutrition!
Driving into the village this morning, we could tell there was a different atmosphere for opening day. All of the women and children, especially the girls, were dressed up in their best clothes. As word of our arrival spread through the village, people started to gather at the Polytank we had spent the last four days building with them. Although we don’t have a large village, we could still sense the gratitude and excitement of the day. All the women were smiling and quickly lined up to get their first batch of water. Even though we didn’t understand the language, we could tell that the women in charge of the business were prepared and did all the work without much help from us. It was definitely a day none of us will soon forget. Below are descriptions the most memorable part of the day from each of our team members:
Lubna’s significant moment was when she entered the village and noticed that all the women and girls had dressed up. For her, it signified that the water treatment system was valued by the community, and that it was a very special day.
For Jessie, it was noticing that everyone seemed to understand the importance of the small details. Her favorite moment was seeing one of the older women in the community motion that she would keep the lid on her safe storage container with a designated drinking cup on top to prove she knew what to do.
Joe felt very excited on opening day knowing that Tindan officially had clean water. It was difficult seeing the community continue to drink dugout water during the installation and distribution process. It was relieving to finally see the community members utilizing the safe water source and knowing that this could significantly improve their health.
Lauren felt gratified knowing they helped the Tindan community get the clean water they so clearly desired. It took no convincing to gain approval from the community to install the system. Five days after approaching the chief, opening day was a great success! The way everyone lined up on time, and were so pleased with the taste indicated that the community could not wait to have a fresh water source.