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Leaders Deliver Fresh Insights at the 13th Annual Social Enterprise Conference at Harvard


Conference Included A Remarkable Announcement By Vikram Akula Regarding His Time at SKS Microfinance That Will Change the Field

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Feb. 29, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The 2012 Social Enterprise Conference at Harvard opened Saturday with a pointed challenge from Forbes "Top 30 Social Entrepreneurs" and Founder of Unreasonable Institute Daniel Epstein to the Conference's 1500 attendees: "Change the *&#$ing World!" With 40 panels and workshops and 75 speakers, Conference participants exchanged their innovative concepts, ranging from new for-benefit business structures to solutions for water security, and even an admission of failure surrounding microfinance organization SKS Microfinance.

Bill Drayton, CEO and Founder of Ashoka, was a highlight of the Conference, giving an impassioned call about the benefits of social enterprise. "We are not giving people fish, or teaching people to fish. It's about changing the fishing industry," Drayton said, during his keynote on Sunday morning. 

Vikram Akula, the former Chairman of SKS Microfinance, provided a dramatic moment on Saturday night, when he broke his silence about the mistakes he made in his social venture.

"Professor Yunus was right. Bringing private capital into social enterprise was much harder than I anticipated," Akula said, acknowledging the legitimacy of the criticism he had received from Mohammad Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor and Founder of Grameen Bank, who had long taken issue with SKS's deployment of private capital in microfinance and its profit orientation.

 "The dialogue at this year's Conference, both among the keynote speakers and the 1,500 attendees, was of the highest quality and speaks to the commitment and passion all at the Conference have for our 2012 theme of Innovation, Inclusion, and Impact," said Jocelyn Cheng, Conference Co-Chair. "I look forward to seeing what new partnerships and impactful actions come from this year's Conference."

About The Social Enterprise Conference

The Social Enterprise Conference is the leading annual symposium that advances the practice and study of social entrepreneurship. In its 13th year, the gathering of more than 1,500 participants has established an impressive track-record for offering inspiring speakers, engaging workshops, illuminating panels, and door-opening networking. Organized by students from the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, the conference builds on topical knowledge developed in the field, through academic study, and at similar events throughout the year. This year's theme, "Innovation, Inclusion, Impact," asks participants to find new ways to address social problems in a way that makes a positive difference for all stakeholders.

Harvard Business School
Anthony Muljadi, 1-720-940-3794


SOURCE The Social Enterprise Conference

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