315 Hudson St.
New York, NY 10013

The Social Innovation Hack, a non-coding event, brings passionate and creative professionals from the private and nonprofit sectors and aspiring entrepreneurs together to find new solutions to address global challenges. During the 2-day event, participants will learn from experts and form teams to create a social enterprise from scratch to pitch to a panel of judges. Subject matter experts will be on hand to teach and guide participants through the process so no prior experience is necessary. 

This year’s theme is global poverty. Why is this topic important? According to The World Bank, 1 in 10 people in the world live on less than $1.90 per day and a majority “live in rural areas and are poorly educated, mostly employed in the agricultural sector, and over half are under 18 years of age”. In the U.S. in 2015, 43.1 million people lived below the poverty line (e.g. $24, 447 for a family of 4).  

Register for the Social Innovation Hack

Sponsorship Opportunity

Join us as a partner to support budding social entrepreneurs in New York City! Contact siamoua@gmail.com for more information. 

5 Reasons to Attend the Social Innovation Hack
  1. Find business solutions to solve global poverty
  2. Learn from industry experts in design thinking, entrepreneurship and more
  3. Apply your existing skills to build your resume and develop new ones
  4. Build a social startup from scratch in one weekend
  5. Network with other like-minded professionals

Check out last year’s event to get a sense of what you can expect. See below for what past participants have to say about their experiences. 

“The Social Innovation Hack was an incredibly beneficial experience for me. The most important takeaway for me is the friendships I formed. You will meet a lot of people at the event and really bond with your own team. The work you do with your team will also help you develop your business skills and give you some stories to tell. You never know what the stories can do for you too because I shared those stories in a job interview I had the week after and I believe it helped me get the job!” – Simon Chu, 2016 Social Innovation Hack Participant

I loved the ideas that were pitched on the first day, from mental health apps to food disposal as energy, and how we all spent three days developing. With my own group, we focus on fundraising for families of incarcerated men and women via the fashion industry. My team was able to get great advice via the speakers all throughout the weekend. We had a great base to work off and eventually a great business idea.  Although we didn’t win, I still felt incredibly accomplished, there were just too many great ideas from everyone there. – Natalia Rodriguez, 2016 Social Innovation Hack Participant


Registration is open! Click here to register. 

Early Bird (until 10/15, 11:59PM EST) – $80
General (until 11/10, 5:00PM EST) – $95
Presentation Only (Sunday Evening) – $15

Please Note: Ticket prices, provided above, do not include Eventbrite fees.

Your ticket includes:

– Opportunity to build a social enterprise from scratch with a team
– Social Entrepreneurship workshops
– Mentorship from industry experts
– Networking with like-minded peers
– Breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday & Sunday

Please Note: Presentation Only ticket only includes the presentation portion of the hack (starts at 5PM on Sunday) and Sunday dinner.

Refund Policy: No refunds within 7 days of the event. 



9:00AM – 9:30AM: Check-in/ Breakfast/ Networking

9:30AM – 10:00AM: Welcome

10:00AM – 10:30AM: Announce top ideas/ Form teams

10:45AM – 11:45AM: Session I – Validating your social enterprise idea

11:45AM – 3:00PM: Work

12:30PM – 1:00PM: Lunch/ Check-in

3:00PM – 4:00PM: Session II – Social enterprise business models

4:00PM – 6:00PM: Consult with mentors

6:00PM – 6:30PM: Dinner/ Work

6:45PM – 7:30PM: Session III – Pitching your social enterprise

9:30PM – 10:00PM: Wrap-up/ Clean up


9:00AM – 9:30AM: Breakfast/ Announcements

9:30AM – 4:30PM: Work

11:00AM – 1:00PM: Work/ Consult with mentors

1:00PM – 1:30PM: Lunch/ Work

1:30PM – 3:30PM: Presentation rehearsal

5:00PM – 7:00PM: Presentation and judging

7:00PM – 8:00PM: Dinner/ Judges deliberate

8:00PM – 8:30PM: Announcement of winners/ Wrap-up

Schedule is subject to change


Is this event a hackathon?

Not quite. Although the activities are similar, the Social Innovation Hack is not tech specific and does not require coding. All ideas to solve global poverty are welcome.

What is a social enterprise?
“A social enterprise is an organization that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being—this may include maximizing social impact alongside profits for external shareholders.” – Wikipedia

What is a minimum viable product?
A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is: “[the] version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort” — Eric Ries.

Who should attend?
Anyone! This event is an excellent opportunity for individuals who have an interest in social entrepreneurship, are subject matter experts, have business or technical skills, are looking for co-founders, want to test an idea, etc.

Which business models are within the scope of this event?
Teams can develop social enterprises that are nonprofit, for-profit or hybrid (for-profit + nonprofit). To learn more about these models, click here.

Does the social enterprise have to be tech-focused?
No, tech is not a requirement. All ideas – product and/or service are welcome.

Is the hack focused on a specific global issue (i.e. education, poverty)?
Yes, the theme for this year’s hack is global poverty. Product and/or service solutions tackling global poverty can encompass economic, climate and environment, education, gender and health and nutrition among other issues.

Can I pitch an existing business or idea that I’ve been working on?
We highly discourage pitching ideas that you have previously worked on or are currently working on. The hack is designed for teams to develop new solutions together.

Will I be assigned to a team?
No, participants are responsible for forming their own teams. There will be time Saturday morning to find team members.

Can I bring a team?
No, you’ll have an opportunity to form a team on Saturday morning. However, we do encourage you to bring friends to the event!

How many people can be on a team?
Each team can have 3-5 members.

Who has ownership of the social enterprise?
Ownership is determined by your team. The Social Innovation Hack and Net Impact NYC do not play a role in this process.

How do I prevent other people from stealing my idea?
Unfortunately, you can’t. If you have an idea that you’re concerned others might steal, we recommend you not pitch it.

Do I have to be at the event all weekend?
Yes, it’s important for you to be present the entire weekend – to support your teammates and to get the full experience.

What resource is provided during the weekend?
Throughout the weekend, there will be workshops to walk you through the process of developing your social enterprise. There will also be subject matter experts (“Mentors”) who will provide guidance as you work on your social enterprise.

What does the winning team receive?
TBA – stay tuned. 

What should I bring to the event?
Laptop, power cord/charger, business cards, etc.

Please email ninyc.events@gmail.com if you have additional questions.


Alejandro Crawford

CEO, RebelBase 

Alejandro Crawford opens up avenues to make solutions real. He builds platforms, partnerships and strategies that unleash innovative capacity for companies and communities – through the knowledge of our power, the space to try and fail, and the alliance to make experiments come alive. As CEO of RebelBase and head of strategy for Tangible Creative, he enables innovators and entrepreneurs to prove their concepts, garner resources, and scale impact and returns. As managing director of Acceleration Group, he enables executives, investors, governments, universities and NGOs to catalyze bottom-up innovation and and to harness “acceleration moments.” Alejandro serves as professor of entrepreneurship at the Bard MBA in Sustainability and designs courses for programs ranging from Baruch’s MBA to Fordham’s nonprofit leadership program. He writes, speaks, and develops frameworks for expanding access to entrepreneurship, to release our potential for sustainable growth. He earned his BA in history from Cornell University and his MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

Jean Paul Laurent

Founder & CEO, Unspoken Smiles Foundation

In founding Unspoken Smiles Foundation, Jean Paul Laurent never intended to engage in simple philanthropy. Instead, he wanted to use the shocking gap in dental care as a model of sustainable growth. Starting with the most remote communities in rural Haiti as a pilot program, he has adopted a three-prong strategy to address this issue: Education, Treatment and Empowerment. His unique oral health curriculum is implemented in local schools, which teaches children proper oral hygiene techniques at a young age, allowing it to become part of a daily (and lifelong) routine. The second is treatment, which sees a variety of world-class dental professionals travel to these communities and provide cleanings, examinations, sealants and treatments. But it is the third portion that truly illustrates the key to his innovative approach: The Unspoken Smiles Fellowship. With this program, women between the ages of 18-35 are trained to become dental assistants within their communities, which not only allows the residents to receive basic dental care, but the women are able to find steady employment.

As a first-generation university graduate, his life’s goal is around public health advocacy and poverty alleviation. Jean Paul’s academic interests include health policy, women empowerment,  and governance. His professional career spans oral health and social issues in community development, social entrepreneurship, policy advising, higher education, finance, and non-profit  management. Jean Paul  holds a Liberal Arts degree from Rockland Community College, a Dental Hygiene degree from NYU College of Dentistry,a Bachelor of Science from NYCCT in Health Service Administration, and is an Executive MPA graduate with a concentration in Advance Management and Finance from Columbia University | School of International and Public Affairs. For fun, you can often find him on a ballroom dance floor. 


Karen Schlesinger

Product Director and leads Operations, FounderTherapy

Karen Schlesinger is a sustainable business expert who specializes in helping entrepreneurs work through strategic and company-building challenges. Karen is a Product Director and leads Operations at FounderTherapy, where she is part of a team of professional co-founders, advisors, product developers, engineers, business strategists, and expert problem solvers. She also leads the company’s Tech for Good initiative, focusing on helping startups build and launch products that are addressing social and environmental challenges.

Karen has specific sustainability expertise in waste and recycling, food systems, and greenhouse gas emissions management. Previously, Karen worked on emissions management and energy efficiency projects for a large waste and recycling company in the northeast. She also spent several years as a sustainability consultant to large corporate clients, including Walmart and Citrix, working on sustainability strategy and operations.

Prior to her work in sustainability and tech, she ran her own digital fine art reproduction business, launched a city-wide economic revitalization organization in Troy, NY, and has taught art, business, and sustainability courses at several universities. She has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School and an MFA in Imaging Arts & Sciences from RIT.

Edwin Broni-Mensah

Founder, GiveMeTap

Edwin Broni-Mensah, fondly known as “The Water Guy”, is the founder of GiveMeTap, a for-purpose company that creates water bottles to provide life-saving access to clean water around the world. Each reusable, BPA-free bottle sold gives one person in Africa five years of clean water. Plus, using GiveMeTap bottles and their free water network helps reduce plastic waste.

Edwin believes that access to clean water is a human right! His passion for helping people access clean water is shared by many worldwide and is the catalyst to GiveMeTap’s success. To date, his company has received over 20 prestigious business awards, including Most Sustainable Business by Virgin Money (in conjunction with Google), and most recently, spoke with President Barack Obama at the Global Entrepreneur Summit in June 2016. 

Starting in his dorm room at The University of Manchester, Edwin nurtured a brand that has enabled global partners like Google, Deloitte, Uber and Accenture to help save lives; all while completing his PhD in Applied Mathematics. Edwin is now an Alumni of The Marketing Academy, The World Economic Forum, The International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences, and was the first ever social-enterprise to go through the world-renowned accelerator, Y Combinator. 

Edwin’s company has rapidly expanded since opening operations in San Francisco last year, and has helped provide over 20,000 people with clean drinking water in Africa. The company’s impact has been picked up by CNN, BBC, Fast Company, The Guardian, The New York Times and many more. 

GiveMeTap is on a mission: Water for Everyone. The Water Guy is thirsty to complete it. Let’s drink to that – Cheers!

Melissa Ferere

Melissa Ferere is a first generation Haitian American who is multilingual, traveled around the world across five continents, lived abroad and worked on global business problems on the ground in South Africa and Haiti. Academically, she has completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at Cornell University (B.Sc) and The Darden Graduate School of Business (UVA – MBA) respectively. In the professional world, she has had diverse experiences within Technology Consulting & Investment Banking at many top tier firms including Merrill Lynch / Bank of America, JP Morgan, Infosys Consulting and currently at MetLife. Leveraging Design Thinking, quantitative and qualitative primary and secondary research, she has provided clients with customer and human centered strategic solutions to design digital products and services for online, mobile and in store experiences. She has contributed to many thought leadership pieces and research on digital / technology trends across several industries including financial services, retail, healthcare, hi–tech and manufacturing and insurance to ensure her unique perspectives are shared in an otherwise male dominated field.

She is ardent supporter of increasing the presence of women and people of color in competitive fields. As such, she has led initiatives to recruit and train diverse new hires throughout her career. She volunteers as a Master Mentor with the Global STEM Alliance to empower and help young women enter STEM careers.  Additionally, she has worked with a grassroots organization to develop a Maternity Housing Ward in rural Haiti to provide medical services and education to pregnant women with limited resources in the area. Overall, Melissa constantly seeks opportunities to learn and grow, while making sure she is paving the way for others as well.

Iyanna Halilou

Co-lead at Anita Borg Institute, NY 
After acquiring experience in international organisations/government space working at the UN and the Cameroonian Embassy in Russia, Iynna found her truest passions in entrepreneurship and its interplay with tech and social impact. She returned to Cameroon on a social enterprise fellowship to start her own sanitation venture whose mission was to provide access to toilets to marginalised communities in urban areas. After spending developing this, Iynna returned to New York and worked in cleantech at the Urban Future Lab and in edtech running a startup that provides STEM and entrepreneurship education to underrepresented underserved minorities in New York. 
She brought all this social business and entrepreneurial expertise and now manages a digital global accelerator that supports the growth of social ventures across the world. On the side, Iynna is also fulfilling her passions to develop a women in tech community as a co-lead for the Anita Borg Institute New York Chapter – an organisation that promotes women technologists.
Iynna is originally from Cameroon and Madagascar, by way of Paris (France), the UK, Senegal and now New York. She is a native French and English speaker as well as fluent in Spanish. She holds a Master in International Affairs, specialising in International Development from NYU and a Bachelor in International Relations and Spanish from Durham University, in England. Iynna hopes to return to sub-Saharan Africa and builds a venture fund accelerator to support tech-ventures from the continent.

Kate Rushton

Challenge Manager, OpenIDEO

Kate Rushton is an online community and challenge manager. She has been working for OpenIDEO – IDEO’s open innovation network – which uses design thinking to crowdsource important social innovation projects. In her role, she helps ideators to prototype their ideas and gather user feedback. One of the challenges Kate was involved in was the Bridge Builder Challenge to find solutions that tackle urgent global challenges at the intersection of peace, prosperity, and planet in radically new ways. In her previous life, she worked in market intelligence and acquired degrees from the University of Birmingham and Nottingham in the UK in Environmental Management, Toxicology and Biochemistry.



Amber Stryker

Director, The Estee Lauder Companies

Amber Baker Stryker is the Director, Global Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability at The Estee Lauder Companies (ELC), where she has held this role since 2015. Amber oversees the Girls’ Education Initiative at The Estée Lauder Companies Charitable Foundation, developing strategy and managing execution of the new global portfolio focused on emerging markets. She also works closely with ELC’s brands to establish cause marketing partnerships that build brand equity and create high impact change. Amber plays key roles in corporate strategy development and communications for the Global Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability team.

Before working on the ELC Corporate Citizenship team, Amber led grantmaking in the EMEA region for the M?A?C AIDS Fund, the charitable foundation at M?A?C Cosmetics (an ELC brand). In total, she has been at ELC for seven years, taking on increasing responsibility and new challenges throughout that time.

Amber has built grantmaking programs in HIV/AIDS, women’s health, education, and the environment, working globally with a particular focus on South Africa, Russia, India, and the UK. She currently serves on the Steering Committee for the International Education Funders Group. Prior to working in corporate philanthropy, Amber worked in international development, for Doctors Without Borders, the Synergos Institute, and the Bhavishya Alliance. Amber earned a Master of Public Administration from NYU Wagner and a Bachelor’s in Political Science from the University of Oklahoma.

Mia Overall

Consultant, Sustainability & ESG Strategy

Mia Overall is a sustainable development and ESG strategist based in New York City. She has delivered social impact through UN and World Bank programs focused on agriculture and rural development, financial inclusion and responsible supply chains. She has also advised corporate clients around the world in sectors such as food, agriculture, fashion, manufacturing, hospitality and extractive industries on issues including CSR strategy, sustainability strategy, stakeholder engagement, sustainability reporting and driving sustainability through supply chains. Former Strategy Director at Futerra, she is now launching her own consulting practice, Overall Strategies. Her greatest passion is that of working towards achieving a more sustainable global food system. She has a masters degree in International Economics and Development from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a Bachelor’s degree from Stanford University.

Karolina Walecik

Associate, BlackRock

Karolina Walecik, Associate, joined the Global Philanthropy team in 2016 and focuses on grant administration, project management, and grant due diligence.
Before joining BlackRock, Karolina consulted on research projects related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Prior to graduate school, Karolina worked as a Program Officer at the Open Society Foundations in Budapest, supporting grant making and advocacy activities on a national and global level. Earlier in her native Poland, she led strategic initiatives and co-managed fundraising and advocacy planning for one of the largest Eastern European think tanks, Political Critique. Karolina began her career in the private sector as a media planner at MediaCom, where she co-created strategic communications plans for the Groupe Danone portfolio in Poland.
Karolina holds an MPA in Development Practice from Columbia University and a MA in English Studies and Literature from the Catholic University of Lublin.


First Place:

Second Place: