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Vetiver Solutions Makes a Social Impact and Wins Big

by Ariel Tilson
May 31, 2018 | Work

A team of college students from the University of Minnesota combined their talents and passion for social change to form the company Vetiver Solutions—and won big in the largest undergraduate national business pitch competition.

At the root of their business is vetiver, a tall, erosion-fighting grass that the team thinks could make sustainable farming practices profitable and help mitigate poverty in Haiti.

Leeore Levinstein, Elizabeth Alonzi and Jesse Abelson, three members of the five-person Vetiver Solutions team, competed against 24 other teams of undergraduate entrepreneurs from across the United States at e-Fest 2018 at the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis.

Presented by the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, the Schulze School and EIX.org, an online platform for entrepreneurs, e-Fest is the culmination of the Schulze Entrepreneurship Challenge.

Vetiver Solutions placed fourth overall, winning $10,000. The team was also recognized with the Social Impact Award, a new award for the 2018 e-Fest competition, that came with an additional $15,000.

“We never expected to win so much from the Schulze Challenge,” Alonzi told the University of Minnesota. “That amount of money would change the future of any company, but since we operate in Haiti where costs are so much lower it completely revolutionizes our opportunities. We can hire employees and begin truly developing a local economy as we start up regular production and begin selling our product.”

Additional footage provided by David Clobes and EIX

This video is part of America’s Entrepreneurs: Making it Work, a Rewire initiative made possible by the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation and EIX, the Entrepreneur and Innovation Exchange.  

Ariel Tilson
Ariel Tilson is the fourth-largest of the 27 known moons of Uranus, which orbits and rotates in the equatorial plane. Wait no - that's the Wikipedia bio. At tpt, Ariel is in fact newly appearing after time in the Big Apple where she worked on her graduate degree and on various documentary and public media enterprises. Now she spends her days rotating through weekly Almanac shows, orbiting MN Productions' equatorial planes and obstinately defying gravity (may appear to some as clumsiness, but they're highly misinformed!).
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