Monday, February 27, 2012

Vote Early and Often for Grinnell: Social Networks and Searchers

The people who brought you cupzza's are now asking for your help. The Social Entrepreneurs of Grinnell from my undergrad Grinnell College are in a contest sponsored by the White House. You can vote for them here. Why should you vote for them? First as I mentioned they helped create cuppzza's the combination pizza and cupcake, which was later picked up by Marginal Revolution.  More importantly they provide loans both in the developing countries and in their own backyard. I like the idea of providing start up funds for students to learn a business (see this Scott Adams article). If the Grinnell Social Entrepreneurs win they would get to go the White House and promote their organization on MTV.

More generally I thought this would be a good time to discuss these types of contest where the winner is determined by who can get the most people to vote for them online. If we assume voting is a proxy for the social capital generated by these organizations then the method for choosing the best proposal seems good. However, larger schools might be at an advantage since those schools have a larger network to draw on. Although per capita Grinnell has a very powerful network. By posting the vote info on Grinnell Plans (Grinnell's own social network), the Social Entreprenuers shot up from 5th to 2nd. You can vote for them here and I hope you will. I'm using my social capital with you (if I have any) to urge you to vote. Of course this type of thing is low cost to me and now we have all increased the knowledge.of this event with no cost to those organizing the event. That really is the beauty of these contest is they externalize the cost of promotion

However this post on the World Bank development blog post warns us of getting too wrapped up in the media surrounding the best ways to give the poor. Granted one of the things that the post suggests is the microfinance is overrated. This has been a recent theme of some works showing that microfinance has little short term impacts. I think the verdict is still out with only two or three studies.  However, I think having students learn about things work by directly involving them in projects and working locally is an excellent mission.

So again you can vote for them here

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