Orange County Social Entrepreneurship Competition Showcases Global Solutions with Local Innovations

For Immediate Release: 
May 13, 2014

The nation’s first county-wide social entrepreneurship competition culminated in presentations from 11 finalists at a showcase on May 10th before a packed house at the University of California, Irvine.  The finalists pitched their business plans that seek to address complex social problems utilizing sustainable funding models.  The top three presenters were awarded cash prizes for their business plans, with all 11 finalists having the opportunity to pitch their business plans to social impact investors in September.

The panel of judges selected the first, second, and third place presentations:

First Place ($10,000):
Prakash Bista
Modern Model Resident School (Aliso Viejo, CA) provides education to poor students in extremely remote areas of Nepal, with special focus to girls.  The model is launching a second school where families volunteer on site to help pay for their children’s tuition. 

Second Place ($5,000):
Adam Comenzuli
KARIBU Solar Power (Tanzania) produces the first modular solar lamp (solar panel + rechargeable battery + light) that is sold to local merchants and then rented to the community, providing the benefits of solar lighting and energy.

Third Place ($2,500):
Justine Porter
Della (Culver City, CA) is a Southern California fashion line that empowers women in Ghana, West Africa through employment and education to sell to customers in the United States, included Apple. 

The competition also gave a special award selected by members of the audience:  The People’s Choice Award went to Joe Palacios of K9 West Kennels (Lake Forest, CA), which seeks to reduce the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and suicide epidemic affecting our veterans through engagement with dog training. 

Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College, stated, “Congratulations to our top presenters and all the finalists who shared visionary business plans that address clear social problems.  Every presentation was truly remarkable and it was inspiring to see the innovative ideas that seek to create lasting social change.  Thank you to all the contestants and we look forward to seeing your pitch to social impact investors in September.”

First prize recipient Prakash Bista of Modern Model Resident School said,“It was a great experience to be a participant of OC Social Entrepreneurship Competition 2014 as a student of Soka University of America. This competition means a lot to our team in Nepal and the people who believe in our work. This is the first award and financial support we have ever received for Modern Model Residential School from outside our local community. This competition has made our spirits higher and our beliefs stronger.” 

The five judges were: Rich Tafel, Founder and President, The Public Squared; David M. Ochi. Executive Director, UC Irvine Antrepreneur Center; Cathy Margolin, Associate Dean, Brandman University; Andrew Munoz, Executive Director Orange County Workforce Investment Board; and Michael Potter, Social Entrepreneur and Vice Chairman, Manna Energy Foundation and Geeks Without Frontiers.

The keynote address was presented by Shaheen Sheik-Sadhal, an attorney and founder of the Esse Law Group, which empowers social entrepreneurs and start-ups to make a positive social impact while remaining profitable. 

All finalists will be provided investor assessment and coaching services valuing more than $20,000 to help prepare for their final pitch to social impact investors in September, with funding possibilities upward of $125,000.  The additional finalists are:

Robert Charles
Back to Native Orange County, Irvine, CA - Back to Native Orange County service providers and affiliates will provide a landscape design, installation, and maintenance service focused on replanting with low-water usage native plants.

Mahour Lellat-Parast
Bio-Adhesive Alliance, Greensboro, NC – Bio-Adhesive Alliance has developed and patented a process technology to provide an economical solution to transforming swine waste into a marketable asphalt binder.

Taylor Cheeley
Entourage Red, Orlando, FL – Entourage Red LLC is a consumer goods manufacturer specializing in innovative personal care products for women.

Anna Sontag
Full Life Programs, Corvallis, OR – Full Life Programs will shift the paradigm of senior care, providing sustainable, person centered care in a climate of safety, health, and wholeness.

Shawn Wehan
Givsum, Aliso Viejo, CA – Givsum is an online application that: (1) gives individuals the ability to track and promote their charitable interest; (2) provides charities with an effective fundraising and volunteer recruitment platform; and (3) allows businesses to efficiently administer their charitable donation policies.

Sophia Lin
A Hundred Tiny Hands, Irvine, CA – A Hundred Tiny Hands is to "invent inventors" by fostering playful learning and imagination; enabling children to discover, create, and invent.

Emily Quinlan
Saddleback Café, Mission Viejo, CA – The Saddleback College Culinary Arts program will create a nationally recognized culinary institute that will serve one of the most dynamic hospitality industries in the world.

For photos of the event please visit

Special recognition and appreciation to the evaluation team that chose the 11 finalists: Helen Eckman, Faculty, Brandman University; Elizabeth Garlow, Executive Director, Michigan Corps; Timothy Jemal, Trustee, South Orange County Community College District; Cathy Margolin, Associate Dean, Brandman University; Marcia Milchiker, Trustee, South Orange County Community College District; David Ochi, Executive Director, Antrepreneurship Center at UC Irvine; George Powell, Founder and CEO, ReUSE Jeans Social Entrepreneur; Maricela Sandoval, Deputy Sector Navigator, Small Business, CA Community Colleges; Daniel Scott, Faculty, Irvine Valley College; and Richard Tafel, Founder and President, The Public Squared.

For more information visit

View the Orange County Social Entrepreneurship Competition Showcase in its entirety at