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.
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.”
Video by Ariel Tilson
Additional footage provided by David Clobes and EIX