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Seattle Pacific University
Autumn 2007 | Volume 30, Number 2 | Features

Brandon Teng

Business solutions for social needs

Brandon Teng
It was 6 a.m. one day last spring and freshman Brandon Teng still hadn’t slept. He and his project partner had spent the night fine-tuning the business plan they would present in the first Seattle Pacific University Social Venture Plan Competition Showcase.

The competition, sponsored by SPU’s School of Business and Economics, Office of Student Life, and Career Development Center, empowers students to “change the world” by producing new solutions for social needs. To help young Americans bring health care to African orphans suffering from AIDS, Teng and his business partner, University of Washington student Karman Tandon, envisioned a student-run, nonprofit organization called “Care for Kids.” It would draw high school and college students into helping relief efforts by asking them to contribute $5 annually.

So, sleep-deprived but hopeful, Teng and Tandon brought their project before almost 60 judges — leaders in the business, nonprofit, and professional communities. The judges considered the significance of the social need being addressed, the duration of the project’s influence and effectiveness, the likelihood that it could be successfully implemented, and its financial viability. Ultimately, Teng’s all-nighter paid off. Care for Kids surpassed 15 competitors, capturing the $2,500 grand prize.

That’s not all: Care for Kids also won the $500 Students’ Choice Award. More than 200 students identified Teng’s plan as their favorite.

Then, as Teng and Tandon spread the word about Care for Kids, new opportunities opened up. They traveled to Uganda in June to lead seminars on health issues, AIDS, and computer literacy, and to provide more than 20 laptop computers to schools. Partners in this venture were St. Thomas School in Medina, Washington; Bellevue Christian School in Bellevue, Washington; and Africa Village Ministries.

Teng’s experiences may have changed his career plans. “As a freshman premed student last year, I found business and world engagement extremely exciting and adventurous,” he says. “I may now be majoring in business administration and getting a minor in biology.

I may also be attending seminary in the future because I would love to bring a solid, ethical and moral business sense to the church and ministry.”

Teng’s advice to future Social Venture Plan competitors? “Find an experienced mentor who will help develop the plan — someone with a lot of business experience is invaluable to the quick success of organizations.”

Remembering that all-nighter, he adds two words of wisdom: “Start early.”

—By Jeffrey Overstreet []
—Photo by Fritz Liedtke

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