Taking on Paul Newman

Spring 2013

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A team of four Notre Dame MBA students took first place in a social entrepreneurship case competition for the second consecutive year with an incentive-savvy plan to boost distribution of clean water in rural Ghana. Jessica Bonanno, Steve Lehmann, Daniel Portilla and Patrick Riley devised the winning proposal in the third-annual Innovation in Social Entrepreneurship Case Competition, held March 27-29 at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. The Notre Dame MBAs competed against their counterparts from BYU and the universities of Portland, Colorado and Utah.

The teams were challenged to solve a problem facing Safe Water Network, a nonprofit founded by the late actor Paul Newman and still affiliated with the Newman’s Own Foundation. The network’s goal is to develop innovative ways to provide safe, affordable water to those in need. Focusing on a Safe Water Network purification facility in the Ghanaian village of Dzemeni near Lake Volta, the Mendoza College students recommended replacing the facility’s infrastructure with easier-to-maintain technology and devised an incentives-laden business plan relying on micro-franchises granted to entrepreneurs.

The Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business sponsored the Notre Dame team and helped the students prepare for the case. Viva Bartkus, Notre Dame associate professor of management, served as faculty mentor and adviser. The competition was hosted by BYU’s Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance.