Live from the 2nd Annual Negma Conference @MIT Media Lab

I’m currently listening to social enterprise development project pitches by the ten finalists in Negma’s Impact Egypt competition at the MIT Media Lab. Three minute presentations, no slideshows, followed by an intense ten minute round of questioning from judges.

Here are some questions that are being asked of a woman who wants to build a for-profit social enterprise to help the disabled become more productive and better integrated members of society:

  • “What if you don’t get $150,000? What if I only give you $10,000? What happens then?” 
  • “Every enterprise involves risk? What is the risk of yours?”

I’m seeing two determinants of success in this competition:

  • The ability to think on the fly and clearly articulate one’s thoughts in a high-pressure environment.
  • A focus on using tools that already exist to better achieve organizational mission goals. In other words, use familiar technologies in new ways to reach more people, rather expending scarce resources on inventing new technologies that people might not be interested in using.

As I’ve written previously, I want my students to acquire the same abilities I see among the competitors here. 

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