Mendoza School of Business

Second Annual Irish Impact Conference will gather social entrepreneurs from around the world

Published: September 26, 2013 / Author: Carol Elliott

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 second annual Irish Impact Social Entrepreneurship
, to be held Oct. 2-4 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 communities.

The public is invited to attend the keynote talk at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 3 by David Bornstein,
entitled “Getting Smarter
About Change: Social Entrepreneurship’s Age of Enlightenment.” The talk will
take place in the Mendoza College’s Jordan Auditorium.

Bornstein, a journalist and author who
focuses on social innovation, co-authors the “Fixes” column in The New York Times Opinionator section,
which explores and analyzes potential solutions to major social problems. He is
the co-founder of the Solutions Journalism Network, which supports journalists
who report on constructive responses to social problems. His books include “How
to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas,” “The
Price of a Dream: The Story of the Grameen Bank,” and “Social Entrepreneurship:
What Everyone Needs to Know.” He is currently completing a book on social
innovation in the U.S. and Canada. 

energy and networking generated by last year’s inaugural conference was a
tremendous testimony to the increasing interest in social entrepreneurship as a
way of addressing issues of access for vulnerable populations, whether in the
public health arena, education, energy, or economic development,” said Melissa
Paulsen, conference organizer and assistant director of the Gigot Center for
Entrepreneurship.  “The Irish Impact
Social Entrepreneurship Conference 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 three-day event will also include the Zielsdorf Family 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 50 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

Conference participants include Alexandra LaForge of Investors’ Circle,
which represents a network of over 200 angel
investors, professional venture capitalists, foundations, family offices and
others who are using private capital to promote the transition to a sustainable
economy; John Tyler, General Counsel of the Kauffman Foundation, a Notre
Dame alum (both undergrad and law school) and a nationally-known authority on
emerging forms of business for social ventures and related legal issues; Greg
Van Kirk, co-founder of The New Development Solutions Group and the Schwab
Foundation’s “2012 Social Entrepreneur of the Year (Latin America); Paula
Cardenau, co-founder and director of Njambre, the first Impact Innovation
Enterprises Builder and Accelerator in the Southern Cone, and social enterprise
advisor to Ashoka; and Stephen Keppel, Director of Empowerment Initiatives at
Univision News overseeing the expansion and development of Univision’s social
campaigns, including launching a $20 million health initiative and
implementing/executing a $500,000 Ford Foundation grant to enhance Univision’s
reporting on immigration, financial inclusion and education issues.

A complete schedule can be found at

Paulsen also invites social entrepreneurs to contribute a
video to the “What’s
Your Irish Impact
” YouTube channel, which are short
testimonials from individuals discussing their social ventures. 

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

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.

Irish Impact Social Entrepreneurship Conference is made possible with support
from the Robert L. (ND ’65) and Frances J. Zielsdorf Family. The Zielsdorf Family
provides support for health care, education and hardship and emergency grants
to deserving individuals and families in Indian River County, Fla.; Shelby
County, Ohio; and in Cheboygan County, Mich. As long time supporters of Notre
Dame and Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns, the Zielsdorfs view the
opportunity to help underwrite this conference as a way to support the growth
of Social Entrepreneurship to help instill the idea that elements of capitalism
can be harnessed as a force for good.

For more information
about the Irish Impact Social Entrepreneurship Conference, call (574) 631-3042,
visit, or email Melissa
Paulsen at 


Topics: Main, Undergrad