Dr. Jun Xu, former visiting scholar at the Duke Center for International Development (DCID), recently organized the first social entrepreneurship competition at the Capital University of Economics and Business in Beijing, China.

Xu (second from left), who is a professor in the university’s School of Urban Economics and Public Affairs, based the competition on research she conducted on social entrepreneurship and nonprofits at Duke University from January to July 2014.

“Through this competition, I wanted my students to care about social problems and try to resolve them,” Xu said. “I wanted them to be change makers.”

More than 60 students participated in the inaugural competition. The awards ceremony, held Nov. 11 at the university, was featured on China’s CCTV.

The winning team, made up of five students from the School of Labor Economics, developed a plan to preserve Chinese folk art. 

“Much of our folk art, which has unique artistic value and embodies the rich life and philosophy of our country, is in peril of extinction,” Xu said. “The proposal supports art activities and also artists through education and fair trade.”

During her semester at Duke, Xu worked closely with faculty from both the Sanford School of Public Policy and the Fuqua School of Business. She audited five courses and interviewed a number of scholars, entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders.

After returning to China, she launched the first social entrepreneurship course at her university, where she invited a number of entrepreneurs to share their professional experience with the students. She also founded the Youth Social Entrepreneurship Association in December 2014, which helped organize the competition. Currently 40 students are involved.

“In addition to the competition, the association holds face-to-face conversations with social entrepreneurs, organizes visits to social enterprises and viewings of entrepreneurship documentaries, and offers instruction on how to write business plans,” Xu said.

The competition was financially supported by Elfenworks Productions, a multimedia production company based in California specializing in positive storytelling with a pro-social vision. CEO Lauren Speeth delivered the keynote address at the awards ceremony. 

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