Photo Credit: https://speedpropertybuyers.co.uk/
It is not surprising that many college-aged students, particularly at Penn, care about social impact – the act of creating positive change for people who face social challenges. IMPACT Magazine is just one example of a student group that seeks to inspire other students to make a difference in society. And yet in recent years, this mindset has not been unique to college students alone. Analysis of the Millennial generation (people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s) has shown that their actions, guided by their focus on social impact, have drastically changed the scope of investment, advertising and manufacturing in companies across the globe.
When I visited the Weiss Tech House, one of the first things I noticed was a note scribbled on the white board: “Take a chance on the us. We are the 3%. 97% of startups fail.”
Indeed, Weiss- Labs is an incubator for entrepreneurship and innovation at Penn that is incredibly successful. Started this semester by co-founders, Guthrie Gintzler and Ernest Tavares, Weiss Labs has created a community of support and guidance for budding entrepreneurs at Penn. The first cohort of 7 teams, selected out of 70 applicants, meets for weekly meetings to give each other updates, and feedback and learn about different aspects of entrepreneurship from speakers who are leaders in their fields– anyone from lawyers to venture capitalists.
Guthrie and Ernest in part created the incubator to battle the risk-averse and pre-professional Penn culture, which sometimes prevents students from pursuing their entrepreneurial aspirations. “A lot of people who have good ideas are too afraid to take a break off from their internships and work on their good ideas because it breaks some sort of social code […] It’s oftentimes better to work on your idea and follow your passion even if you’re taking a year off. And companies at the end of the day respect that a lot more than people think”
When Guthrie and Ernest were trying to probe what makes an incubator really successful, they heard that the main thing is creating a tight community. But it’s more than just a community for entrepreneurs; it’s also a family. Guthrie joked, “Pledge Weiss-Labs.”
Imagine you’re applying for a mortgage. If you’re one of the 2 billion without a bank account, (unlikely given you’re reading this) odds are you can’t get access to working or investment capital through institutional means. You don’t have a financial identity. And, as far as banks are concerned, you’re non-existent. Conventional capital markets are not designed to uplift the poor who have expensive dreams. Such dreams are reserved for the wealthy. The reality is that you’re not going to be given a second chance to get that dream house, apply to college or even travel to visit loved ones, if you’re deemed unworthy of credit.
“The important score that I had no choice over and determined what I had access to was my credit score,” explains credit score provider InVenture’s founder, Shivani Siroya at a Wired Money talk in London. Oft talked about, dreaded and at times vainly flaunted– the credit score as well as the lack of it has erupted an entire industry.
As Penn students, most of us are fortunate to have access to healthy foods whenever we want or need them. As a result, It’s easy to be unaware of the food injustices affecting citizens right outside of the Penn ecosystem, in West Philadelphia.
For many Philadelphians, issues such as malnutrition and the prevalence of food deserts—urban areas where it is difficult to buy affordable and healthy food—are daily obstacles to leading a healthy life. Because of this, youth in Philadelphia are more likely to buy tasty but unhealthy and inexpensive food from local convenience stores. One of the most distressing consequences of these food injustices is the fact that Philadelphia has the highest rate of obesity among high school students alone in the US and a 20% obesity rate of children between 5 and 18 years old.
From the IMPACT Archives October 2014
By David Ongchoco
On October 23, 2014, Penn alumni and Jubilee Project Co-founder Jason Y. Lee returned to Penn to talk about the Jubilee Project and for an exclusive pre-screening of Jubilee Project’s latest documentary, “Save My Seoul,” which hopes to inform people about the sex-trafficking situation in Korea. This documentary is only one of multiple Jubilee Project videos that have aimed to not only inform but to also inspire people to take action.