Mendoza School of Business

Gigot Center, FISH host social entrepreneurship conference

Published: September 27, 2012 / Author: Carol Elliott

Historically, the words “social” and “entrepreneurship” belonged to two
separate worlds – “social” with social work or charities, and
“entrepreneurship” with business. But in recent years, the joining of the two
concepts has led to a new generation of business ventures that apply innovative
thinking to large-scale social problems, with goals that are nothing short of
sweeping, sustainable change for the human community.

The Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Notre Dame and
the Fellow Irish Social Hub (FISH) will bring together some of the foremost social
innovators during its inaugural Irish
Impact Social Entrepreneurship Conference
, to be held Sept. 27-28 in the
Mendoza College of Business. The conference is open to the students, faculty
and staff of the Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College and Holy Cross College

The public is invited to attend the keynote talk on Sept. 28 by Rishi Jaitly, a
director with the nonprofit John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.  Jaitly is a renowned global expert
in digital innovation, public leadership and social entrepreneurship.  His talk will take place at 12:30 p.m. on
Friday, Sept. 28, in the Mendoza College’s Jordan Auditorium.

believe social entrepreneurship is the perfect pathway for creative and
inspired individuals to address issues of access for vulnerable populations,
whether in the public health arena, education, energy, or economic development,”
said Melissa Paulsen, conference organizer and manager of Gigot Center Social/Micro Venturing Programs.  “The Irish Impact Social Entrepreneurship
Conference 2012 seeks to unite social innovators who are developing new
business models – whether for-profit, nonprofit or hybrid enterprises – in
diverse industries with like-minded students who are searching for concrete
examples and avenues to address societal needs.”

The conference will include sessions designed to facilitate networking among
social entrepreneurs and the Notre Dame community, to improve the understanding
of what “rate of return” means for social ventures, and to introduce strategies
for seeking funding sources.

The two-day event will also include an Irish Impact Investment Pitch
session, where judges will hear live funding pitches from a select group of
seasoned social entrepreneurs; the Irish Impact Opportunity Fair, where more
than 30 social entrepreneurs will set up displays and be on hand to discuss
their ventures; and the Irish Impact Awards, which recognize organizations and
individuals who have demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit and significant social

Panel participants include Greg Van Kirk, co-founder of The New Development
Solutions Group and the Schwab Foundation’s “2012 Social Entrepreneur of the
Year (Latin America); Chris “Kreece” Fuchs, co-founder of bookseller Better
World Books; Kate Antonacci, project manager for Panera Cares, an innovation,
donation-based community café concept; and Steve Camilleri, executive director for
South Bend’s Center for the Homeless.

A complete schedule and a listing of practitioner bios can be found at

The Fellow Irish Social Hub (FISH)
offers incubation services to social entrepreneurs ready to launch their
ventures.  In partnership with Innovation
Park at Notre Dame, FISH provides world-class facilities and critical
occupational services, as well as valuable research and development tools.  Its nine-month business incubator program is
designed to prepare each client to launch a social enterprise and to maximize
its social impact.  For more information
about FISH, visit

The Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship
was founded in 1998 for the purpose of fostering innovation and infusing
aspiring entrepreneurs with a sense of the possible. Through rigorous
coursework, our business plan competitions, extensive networking and
mentorship, and hands-on learning experiences, we provide students with the
knowledge and skills vital to traditional and social entrepreneurship.

For more information about the Gigot Center, call
(574) 631-3042 or visit


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