Applicant Numbers Spike at EGAL’s 2021 Investing in Inclusion Pitch Competition

With applicant numbers doubling since last year, the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership (EGAL) hosted their fourth annual Investing in Inclusion Pitch Competition on April 2, 2021. Five teams from three top MBA programs competed, pitching early stage social ventures in front of a virtual audience of community members, students, and judges.

The Investing in Inclusion Pitch Competition provides an opportunity for business students to pitch innovative solutions to issues of exclusion and marginalization. Since 2018, the competition has seen immense growth and reach to MBA programs spanning across the country. In line with Haas’ defining leadership principle, Question the Status Quo, EGAL challenges participants to think critically on not only business issues, but those affecting society as well.

This year’s panel of judges included social entrepreneurs, educators, and investors from across the Bay Area. Ulili Onovakpuri (Partner at Kapor Capital), Lindsay Grenawalt (Chief People Officer at Cockroach Labs), Mariah Lichtenstern (Founding Partner at DiverseCity Ventures), and Jorge Calderon (Entrepreneur, Founder, and Lecturer at Berkeley Haas) provided meaningful insight to teams drawn from their experiences in such spaces. The teams’ ventures were judged on business potential, social impact potential, and likelihood of success.

The five teams presented a diverse set of solutions which included: a software tool that helps community college students build academic roadmaps, a personalized wealth-building financial training program aimed at closing the Black-White wealth gap, an online diverse hiring platform for BIPOC college students and recent graduates, a digital platform for womxn and gender diverse creative freelancers, and a social enterprise making STEM more inclusive for the next generation of girls. Each team had 10 minutes to present, followed by 5 minutes of Q&A from the judges.

After deliberating, the judges presented three teams with a total of $15,000* in prize money to support the continued growth of their ventures. The 2021 winning teams were The Equity Network, E tal, and Million STEM.

The Equity Network is an online platform that connects Black, Latinx, and Native American college students and recent graduates (“advisees”) with professionals who want to pay it forward (“advisors”) and employers who are committed to diverse hiring. Et al, Inc. is a next-generation digital platform for womxn and gender diverse creative freelancers that provides (1) curated, community-driven business resources; (2) network building via a member-exclusive digital community; and (3) simple, affordable creative portfolio hosting. Million STEM is a social enterprise for women in STEM that is making STEM more inclusive for the next generation of girls.

For more information about the Investing in Inclusion Pitch Competition, visit our website.

*Funding for first place was generously supported by the Sanaya Shah Memorial Fund.

“We are honored to have participated in this year’s Investing in Inclusion Competition! It was inspiring to meet the other teams, learn from the judges and join a community that shares our mission of racial equity. We are deeply grateful to the Berkeley Center for Equity, Gender and Leadership, the Sanaya Shah Memorial Fund and other donors for making this achievement possible — these funds will go help us launch our pilot this summer. If you’d like to stay tuned, please visit our website at!" — Kristina Hu, The Equity Network

At the heart of UC Berkeley's Business School, the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership educates equity-fluent leaders to ignite and accelerate change.