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Social Venture Academy Stories

BYU student Olivia Berhan was seventeen years old when she first visited Ethiopia with her father, Mussie, a refugee from the Northeastern African country. While visiting Ethiopia, Berhan noticed crowds of disenfranchised women begging in the streets, and she vowed to help.

As Marx Acosta-Rubio biked down the streets of Florida, he was shocked by the trash he saw. Garbage lined the beaches, covered the roads, and littered the sidewalks. This would serve as the inspiration for a potentially groundbreaking new product.

The Social Venture Academy has seen an interest trend emerge from the group’s current and former student presidents. Turns out, working at the Academy is a perfect entry point toward pursuing a career in consulting.

Every year more than 1.4 million people struggle to complete a US immigration application. Sam Stoddard, realized the need for an online immigration service when he helped is wife file for a green card. 

After five missionaries from the Madagascar Mission returned home, they felt compelled to give back. The Malagasy people they met were brilliant and resourceful, but many lacked employment and nutrition.

Korey Hocker, the CEO of SignGlasses and a BYU graduate, was at a trade show displaying  technology his then-brand-new company designed to dramatically improve deaf and hard of hearing students’ educational experience.

While walking through the crowded streets of Guatemala, I met an elderly man wearing tattered clothing and covered in filth. It was apparent by the way he stumbled and stuttered that he had been drinking alcohol. He seemed eager to speak to someone—anyone—so when I introduced myself as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he had a lot to say. 

At home in Australia, Jaysen Valdes felt like he was “marinating in stagnation” and that his goals were out of reach. However, thanks to his own grit and the resources available at the BYU Marriott School of Business, the senior in the strategy program now uses his business skills to reach his own aspirations and to help early-stage organizations around the world reach theirs. 

Like many students at BYU, Matthew Liddle wanted to leave his mark on the world. But if you were to ask him, he would actually say that he wanted to remove his mark—by reducing his carbon footprint and improving his care for the environment. Fortunately for Liddle, there was a way to do both.

Societal issues and problems usually induce frustration, not laughter. One Provo duo is trying to help solve some societal problems and alleviate the frustration, all through laughter.

Cade Dopp is graduating with his master's degree in Instructional Psychology and Technology in BYU’s David O. McKay School of Education and is already teaching teachers—in Ghana. As the founder of Educell, a nonprofit geared toward helping nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in resource-limited areas, Dopp works tirelessly to bring education to those around the world who don’t have access to it.

In February 2018, the World Health Organization reported that more than 800 women die worldwide every day due to preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Students who participate in the Social Venture Maternal Health Challenge propose technology-related solutions to lower the mortality rate for pregnant mothers.

Early Intervention Robotics, or EI Robotics, is a company started by BYU students seeking to make a difference for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families by creating an interactive robot to help children learn foundational skills.

A group of BYU students are sweeping entrepreneur competitions and making life easier for wheelchair users with a new innovative device.