Net Impact Conference Reflection
Post by Fatoumata Sow ’18
With aid from different sources, one being the Undergraduate Professional Accelerator Fund, I was able to attend this year’s Net Impact Conference in Seattle. It was one of the best conferences I have ever attended, if not the best. There were many amazing speakers, from Stephen Ritz (Green Bronx Machine) to Chelsea Clinton (Clinton Foundation), amazing workshops focusing on what you as an individual/organization can do to change the world through business, and so many opportunities to network with others making a positive impact through business. I cannot even count the amount of well-known socially responsible companies that were present at the conference.
The keynotes all did an excellent job at exciting people about making a difference. This conference focused on the struggles and battles that people fought when it came to running a socially responsible venture. The speakers shared personal information on what they had to overcome and how it wasn’t easy, but it definitely wasn’t impossible. They encouraged all of us in the audience to continue to make our strides towards a better future for the world and the people in it.
I was on a mission to get the most out of the conference for both me and my organization, the undergraduate chapter of Net Impact. I listened and took notes on the different challenges the entrepreneurs faced and saw some similarities between my journey with the undergraduate chapter here at Babson and their journey in establishing their company. There seems to be common struggles when it comes to making an impact in business; like building a customer base. You never really know how to initially market your product/ idea to others because there are so many things you want to say, but only have about 30 seconds to do it.
Two of the many workshops really resonated with me from the conference and they were the chapter leaders’ session and the Turning Big Impact into Big Money Social Entrepreneurship 2.0 session. The chapter leader session was a special session where all of the presidents of the different chapters of Net Impact and some board members went through a series of exercises that allowed us to share conflicts we have faced with our chapters, supply advice to one another, and share success stories that we have had. From this session, I received great advice on how improve our events and even some new possible ideas to try out. The session on Turning Big Impact into Big Money Social Entrepreneurship 2.0 was amazing. There was a panel of recent Hult Prize winners addressing challenges and lessons they have learned as well as how their lives have changed since winning the Hult Prize Competition. Then, the second half of the session was a competition between the people in the audience. We were broken up into teams of four or five people and given thirty minutes to trade one white sock for something of more value. My team was able to trade our white sick for a plastic bag, then a bottle of lotion, then Emergen-C, then a bag full of candy, and finally a large cup of coffee. It was such an amazing and fun challenge. All of the different teams presented their journey to everyone. It was a lot of fun and taught us that we could start with something that seems to have no value and create value. It’s something that I would love to try here at Babson.
Net Impact made sure to celebrate all of the positive work that everyone was doing. Out of all of the different demographics present at the conference, the most underrepresented one was the undergraduate one. It was such an amazing conference and I would recommend it to anyone interested in business. Even if someone isn’t interested in making a social impact, this conference may inspire them to and the lessons that I learned at the conference could be applied to many different situations. I am thankful for the opportunity that I had to attend such a fantastic conference.