The Wharton Business Plan Competition recently announced the winner of its newly-instituted Social Impact Prize: Dana Cita, a microlending firm founded by second year MBA candidate Susli Lie, WG’14, and co-managed by impact investor Tom Schmittzehe, WG ’03.
The Social Impact Prize, a $10,000 award, is bestowed upon the strongest business plan submission that fully embraces social impact. This is the first time the competition has awarded official recognition to ventures that address social problems, and the award symbolizes a movement towards more platforms for social impact at Wharton.
Dana Cita, which means “Aspiration Fund” in Indonesian, aims to empower Indonesian youths to create a better future for themselves by bridging education financing and employment gaps. The organization provides loans to aspiring students, helping them attend vocational schools and universities while also connecting them to promising future careers through a job matching platform and our network of partner institutions.
Lie, a native of Indonesia and a Principal with the Wharton Social Venture Fund, was selected from a pool of 25 semifinalist teams. Lie previously worked as a consultant before pursuing a joint MBA/MA degree from Wharton and John Hopkins, while co-manager Schmittzhe works as a Research Director for Responsible Investing at the Sustainomics Group, an international consulting firm specializing in global sourcing and China advisory.
“It’s an incredible honor to have the opportunity to share this venture with a broader audience through the competition,” says Lie. “Millions of youths in Indonesia, where I am from, aspire to a better future.”
Lie explains that many Indonesians lack access to higher education and financing for projects, creating barriers to achieving their dreams.
“Through Dana Cita, we hope to make a difference and enhance the social mobility of many young people by funding these aspirations one at a time. It is a small step, but for a rapidly growing country that is as populous as Indonesia, we are hopeful it will be an impactful step.”
Other semifinalists included innovations in healthcare and education, among other ideas. Funding for the social impact prize is donated by the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, and a panel of judges included Chris Balme, C’03,W’03; Ami Dala, C’99,W’99, WG’05; Bob Hornsby,WG’00; Goldie Shturman, WG’09; and Christopher Bentley.
Eight finalist teams will now compete at the overall Wharton Business Plan Competition, where winners will be announced on May 1.
Story By Joanne Ho, W’15. Photograph submitted by Wharton Entrepreneurship.