Mercy Corps adds social twist to Startup Weekend

Mercy Corps has teamed up with Startup Weekend to host an event aimed at launching social enterprises.

Two years ago, Mercy Corps was looking to tap into the world of tech to more efficiently address the organization's global aid and relief work.

In need of innovative ideas, it reached out to Startup Weekend, a fellow nonprofit that has made a name for itself by hosting thousands of events that launch companies from scratch in a single weekend.

The partnership began with a slew of events in developing and transitional places like Gaza City, Haiti, Iraq and the West Bank.

Now the collaborative is headed stateside to put on the first Tech4Change event, taking place in Portland on June 7-9 at the Mercy Corps world headquarters.

Shashi Jain, the lead organizer of Startup Weekend's Portland chapter, says the partnership is a first for Startup Weekend. "There have been other Startup Weekend events focused on social business, but none to my knowledge that have a partner organization (as high profile as) Mercy Corps."

Teams of software developers, designers and business-types will form at the beginning of the weekend that aim to build a business around a pressing social issue. There's still room to attend.

The Tech4Change event is just one of several partnerships that Portland Startup Weekend is currently exploring. The local chapter is working on an event focused on addressing issues faced by deaf and blind communities, called Startup Weekend Access, as well as events for high schoolers and the culinary arts.

The winner of Tech4Change will be announced the evening of June 9. You can follow @PDXSW and @Tech4Change1 on Twitter for updates from the event.


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