The University System of Georgia is to host on Oct. 17 an economic development conference that is to showcase student-initiated business plans addressing social issues facing Georgia communities.

Muhammad Yunus, the acknowledged founder of the “microcredit” concept, is to be the featured speaker at the conference to be held at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Ferst Center, and is to present awards to the winners of a social business plan competition.

University system students who wish to participate in the competition must identify a social business opportunity; propose a solution including a business model and products, services and programs; develop a market analysis and strategy; explain how the strategy is to be launched; provide a sustainable financial plan and an overview of the social benefits.

Student teams are to prepare five minute presentations that are to be presented to judges who will be overseeing qualifying and final rounds in the competition. The business plans are to be submitted no later than Monday, Oct. 10. For more information about the registration and submission process, go here.

The judges include 21 national and local business and community leaders.

“We are delighted that Professor Yunus will help anchor this event,” said USG Chancellor Hank Huckaby in a news release. “Our goal is to put together a number of key state players in economic development along with our talent in the University System to explore ways in which our partnership efforts can better benefit Georgia’s economic recovery and possibly create the potential for new businesses and jobs.”

Dr. Yunus is the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize winner for his pioneering work in microcredit, the extension of very small loans to those in poverty designed to spur entrepreneurship. The original microcredit business concept has been expanded by Dr. Yunus to incorporate a larger focus to creating business solutions to solve social issues.

In addition to USG, the following agencies and organizations are involved with the conference including Georgia departments of education, early care and learning, economic development, community affairs, human resources and the Technical College System of Georgia, Georgia Student Finance Commission, Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, Georgia Professional Standards Commission, Georgia Economic Developers Association, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Independent College Association, Association of Education Agency Heads, TiE – the Indus Entrepreneurs, Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta and Yunus Creative Lab.

Among the judges participating are Suhas Apte, vice president, global sustainability, Kimberly Clark Corp.; Daniel Austin, chief architect of large-scale payment systems at Paypal; Richard Bernhardt, president and COO at Silicon Valley Investment Group and owner and CEO, Bernhardt Communications Co.; Paula Boggs, executive vice president, general counsel and secretary, Starbucks Corp.; Phil Bolton, president of Agio Press Inc. and publisher of GlobalAtlanta; Colin Brady, OBE, president and CEO of Pinnacle Partners International Inc.;

Karen Robinson Cope, vice president, Out-of-home Media, NanoLumens Inc., Ken Cutshaw, executive vice president, general counsel and chief compliance officer, Church’s and Texas Chicken; Grace Fricks, founder, Access Capital for Entrepreneurs; Kazi Huque, CEO, Grameen Intel Social Business; Zeev Klein, board member at Digital Wish, general partner at Landmark Ventures and co-founder and director at Doing IT for Good; C.N. “Madhu” Madhusudan, CEO, VectorSpan Inc. and president of TiE Atlanta;

Andrea T. Mills, Fiscal Management Associates LLC; Tamela G. Noboa, chief of strategy and new business, Discovery Channel Global Education Partnership; Rajan Palaniswamy, chairman and CEO, Virima Technologies; Kristin Peterson, co-founder and CEO, Inveneo; Kanchama Raman, president and CEO, Avion Systems Inc.; Sndhya C. Rao, senior advisor for Private Sector Partnerships at USAID; Narayan Sundararajan, CTO, Grameen-Intel Social Business, Intel Corp.; Eileen Sweeney, senior director of Motorola Giving and Philanthropic Rleations, Motorola Inc. and Boby Zukis, global strategy and technology executive.

To learn more about the Oct. 17 conference, go here.

To reach USG, call John Millsaps at (404) 656-2250 or send an email to