Impactathon Offers Social Entrepreneurial Lessons for Students and Alumni

January 05, 2020
Lucas Caceres, Linda Mutesi, and Shaheen Sheik-Sadhal holding award
Social impact attorney Shaheen Sheik-Sadhal, Lucas Caceres '22, and Linda Mutesi '22

Connecting immigrants with vital services. Spurring economic development in communities by recycling environmental waste. Empowering students with knowledge to spark civic engagement.

Soka students and alumni presented these and other social enterprises as part of the 24-hour Impactathon. The round-the-clock event on Nov. 1-2 brought students and alumni together to design and pitch creative business solutions to global issues.

Led by author, entrepreneur, and Impactathon founder Neetal Parekh, the social enterprise boot camp introduced participants to legal structures, business models, impact measurement frameworks, and funding options.

Soka students came away with a deeper understanding of how social enterprises can change the world and three winning student enterprises earned seed money for development.

A panel of business professionals, including Brian Walker, the manager of the diversity and inclusion program at the Walt Disney Company, set the tone with stories of the viability of social enterprises: with a unique mission and clever use of resources, a business can be both charitable and profitable.

Eight Soka teams pitched enterprises to a panel of judges, including social impact attorney Shaheen Sheik-Sadhal, Lake Forest Economic Development Manager Carlo Tomaino, and urban planner Stephanie Roxas. Each team had a few minutes to explain their mission and present an informed strategy. The judges then evaluated the ideas for creativity, feasibility, and potential impact.

The winning enterprises:

  • First-place Ensendio ($1,000), which helps immigrants and other disenfranchised groups in Tijuana to integrate into their new communities by providing shelter, vocational opportunities, community, and civic engagement. Presenters: Lucas Caceres ’22, Sergio Morales ’22, Linda Mutesi ’22, Roberto De La Peña ’16, and Hina Takahashi ’22.
  • Second-place Arsenova ($500), which buys arsenic deposits from communities and sells them to manufacturing industries. Presenters: Moses Addai ’22 and Yuki Miyoshi ’22.
  • Third-place Enactus ($250), a mobile app that equips “passionate students with political know-how.” Presenters: Warren Feasel ’21, Arnold Too ’21, Anju Haas ’23, Supriya Sarda ’21, Linus Rueegger ’21, Hamza Al Fayeed Ibrahim ’23, and Kristen Kolp ’23.

“It’s exciting to witness students take their ideas for positive social impact into the business world,” said Mary Patrick Kavanaugh, Soka director of special projects and founder of the B2B program. “Impactathon is one of many pathways we offer for students at Soka to experience entrepreneurship, and it’s important for students to have a realistic experience of the sector. Turning ideas into action isn’t easy, but the students gain excellent transferable skills that make them more employable.”

Since Impactathon in November, B2B students have attended workshops at UC Irvine and met with business mentors from different sectors to refine their ideas.

Soka’s B2B program has multiple pathways for students to build skills and experience entrepreneurship. For more information, visit the B2B webpage or contact  Mary Patrick Kavanaugh at

For more information on Impactathon and social entrepreneurship, visit the Impactathon website.

—Riley Murphy ‘20