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Smith School start up aims to innovate corporate social responsibility

By Carly Morales
On April 22, 2012


Have you heard of Triple Impact?

It may sound familiar due to the 1992 action movie with Dale Cook, or the PureMinerals mascara brand. But this name refers to something else.

It is the winner of the viewer's choice award this past weekend at the Pitch Dingman Competition hosted at the university. It is an organization aimed to help communities, and it is an original idea.

That's right, Triple Impact is a start-up company created by five current students in the Social Innovations Fellowship program at the Smith school. Its focus is to bring the idea of alternative spring breaks to corporations.  

"We want to take employees on the kind of service trips alternative spring breaks offer," said Dipti Badrinath senior group member and supply chain management and finance major.

Badrinath is one of the five senior Smith school student group members of Triple Impact. She, along with fellow members Abby Muray, Stephanie Cantor, Nikita Shenoy and Scott Schuffield, is very passionate about community service.

"We have all been on service trips, and at the same time we are all business majors, who want to make money and who want to have jobs that will pay in the corporate world-so this was kind of a question we all faced, 'How do we do both? And how do we work somewhere that lets us fulfill this passion of ours?'" Badrinath said.

Group members similarly seem to feel the same.

"Having attended four alternative break trips during my time at the University of Maryland, I saw the impact and deep effect an experience abroad can have on people's daily routine," Cantor said.

Cantor, a finance major at the Smith school, was the originator of the idea. During her college breaks, she discovered that another one of her passion, besides business, was "saving the world."

But the idea isn't just based on personal experiences. It also incorporates research. According to a study conducted in 2009 by the Harvard Business Review, 75 percent of new entrants into the United States' workforce stated that a company's corporate social responsibility was an important factor in selecting employers. 

"I am not alone in this struggle to enter the corporate world and simultaneously 'save the world.' Employees are increasingly concerned with finding a job where they feel that they have the potential to contribute to society.  I do not think that current corporate social responsibility efforts are meeting this demand," said Cantor.

From these personal and studied factors, she and fellow member Schuffield began to develop the idea.

As a Social Innovation Fellow, it is a requirement for the course to create an original and unique blue print for social change. Cantor and Scuffield pitched the idea to their classes, and students seemed to respond. Soon enough, the three other group members jumped on board, and collectively they all expanded the basic idea into Triple Impact.

The name comes from its equal benefits, or as the group refers to it, "impacts," on three main parties: the individual employee, the corporation and the community.

As a service organization, Triple Impact aims to work closely with a company's corporate social responsibility department. Triple Impact hopes it will be able to provide a system through which cooperate employees could leverage their skills to support global communities.

"Our mission is to match the skills of these corporate employees with the needs of global communities in order to create a sustainable long-term relationship between these two parties," said Cantor. "Through meaningful corporate service projects abroad, we strive to transform communities and enrich companies while developing employee leadership, world awareness, and motivation."

Badrinath and Cantor will both be taking up financial consulting job offers following graduation this year-Badrinath with IBM and Cantor with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

So far, the group is in the process of trying to land their first client. They are talking to Motorola and Under Armour at the moment and are hoping that this start-up company of theirs will soon take off.

"If this works out, I will quit my job and do this full time. This is kind of how we all feel. If it takes off in a couple years, we want to fully commit," said Badrinath

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