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Stanford MBA Students Use Social Innovation to Drive Change

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Stanford’s Graduate School of Business offers many opportunities to MBA students, one of them being the Social Innovation Fellowship (SIF). This fellowship is designed to support emerging entrepreneurs who want to start a high-impact business that addresses a pressing social or environmental need. As the selected fellows test and implement their venture ideas, the fellowship will provide funding, advising, and mentoring to help the fellows reach their business goals. 

Stanford GSB is proud to announce the 2021 recipients of the Social Innovation Fellowship: Abdulhamid Haidar, Ted McKlveen, and Shawon Jackson. Abdulhamid is a young man from Syria who is working to elevate global learning problems and close the digital divide. Through the SIF fellowship, Abdulhamid will be able to expand his non-profit, an organization that helps provide school kids in developing countries with learning materials through apps and platforms that require low internet bandwidth. 

Ted, another recipient, is excited for the guidance and leadership that will be provided to him by the Social Innovation Fellowship. He is currently developing a prototype to help reduce emissions in heavy-duty transportation. Growing up in Minnesota, Ted has grown to appreciate nature. Now, one of his goals is to help mitigate climate change.

Shawon, the third SIF recipient, has a non-profit that works to empower Black and Brown youth to become socially conscious leaders through a public speaking curriculum. This curriculum is going to be implemented in schools and in after-school programs to help kids build confidence and communicate.

What is the Social Innovation Fellowship Application Process Like?

The application for the Social Innovation Fellowship is a multi-stage process and known to be competitive. However, previous applicants have said that just going through the application process is valuable and can be introspective to someone who is starting their own business. An applicant is required to hit certain milestones during each stage. Shawon Jackson, one of the recipients of this fellowship, said that to hit these milestones it made him think of the specific problem he was trying to solve. Another recipient, Abdulhamid Haidar, said the application process helped him build his financial model for his business.

Advice to Future Business Students and Owners

Abdulhamid, Ted, and Shawon all mentioned that this has been a journey they have been on for some time now. However, Abdulhamid encourages aspiring business students and entrepreneurs to talk to as many peers as possible about the specific problem you are looking to solve. Shawon urges aspiring business owners to, “get out there and try something.” He adds that, when it comes to creating a business, nothing will, “…be perfect the first time. Just make improvements and try again.” 

Learn more about the SIF and this year’s recipients here.

Alexandra Markovich
Alexandra (Alex) Markovich was born and raised in Miami, Florida. She attended Florida State University (FSU), where she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in English. After her time at FSU, she has continued to pursue learning more about the writing industry by enrolling herself in editing certificate programs provided by Poynter Institute and the University of Chicago. In her spare time, you can find Alex working out her local gym, perusing local book stores, taking her dogs to the local dog park, and soaking up the Miami sun!