Global Entrepeneurship Week returns to Chapel Hill this week, with six days of major speakers and panel discussions, workshops and office hours for local ventures, and the beginning of the year-long Carolina Challenge business competition. 


“A Worldwide Celebration” 

An initiative launched by Kauffman Foundation in 2007, Global Entrepreneurship Week has grown a worldwide presence with 160 countries and more than seven million people participating in GEW events since its inception. 
GEW at UNC is traditionally one of the biggest events on the university’s entrepreneurship and innovation calendar. 
Organized by a steering committee made up of UNC students, faculty and various members of the entrepreneurial community, GEW at UNC is one of the nation’s most prolific GEW partners. The campus ranks second in the nation of all university partners, and in the top five of all GEW partners in the United States. 
Aaron Scarboro—an ExitEvent contributor—is the director of 1789 Venture Lab and community manager at Launch Chapel Hill and is serving as GEW co-chair alongside Mathilde Verdier, coordinator of UNC’s CUBE Social Innovation program. 
“GEW is what the name implies,” Scarboro says. “It’s a worldwide celebration of entrepreneurship that takes place in countries all across the globe.” 
As the events at UNC unfold throughout the week, more than 25,000 separate partners will host their own celebrations. The Kauffman Foundation estimates that more than 10 million people will participate in GEW events globally this year. 

Attracting a community

On a campus with a robust and ever-growing entrepreneurship and innovation community, the planners of GEW at UNC aim to showcase as much of that community as possible. 
With more than two dozen total events at 10 different venues throughout the week, GEW attendees will be able to experience the full spectrum of UNC’s entrepreneurial activities. Participants can choose to attend a single event or all of them—everything is free. Online registration is required for several of the events though.
“Our main goal is to raise awareness of all of the great things going on here on campus,” Scarboro says, noting that he is excited for people from outside of the UNC community to see spaces like Launch Chapel Hill and 1789 Venture Lab. 
As opposed to many of the on-campus events that include only UNC students and faculty, GEW is an all-inclusive, community-focused event. The past couple of years of GEW have attracted people from throughout the Triangle, Scarboro says.

Schedule of events

Here’s a brief look at each day’s major events along with brief descriptions from the official GEW at UNC program:
After an advisory workshop for startups on Monday afternoon, GEW at UNC kicks off in earnest with its “How Entrepreneurship Can Change the World” event on Monday evening. 
Starting at 6pm, the kickoff features keynote speaker Catherine Hoke, the founder of Defy Ventures—a non-profit working with previously incarcerated individuals by coordinating training programs for employment, entrepreneurship and other areas. Following Hoke’s address will be a panel discussion with founders of other social enterprises in the areas of 3D printing, child protection and clean energy (UNC student and Greenchar founder Yina Sun). The panel discussion will be followed by a networking event which includes a free buffet. 
Tuesday’s featured event is “Entrepreneurship: Diverse Lenses,” featuring a 5:30pm discussion on impact investing from Henry McKoy and Phaedra Boinodiris
McKoy, a UNC alumnus and founder of Fourth-Sector Financial, has been invited to the White House by President Obama and has worked with more than 200 non-profits in various capacities. His main focuses are inclusive entrepreneurship and increasing diversity within the impact investing space. 
Another UNC alumna, Boinodiris is the co-founder of, focused on establishing a female-friendly environment within the gaming community. She is also the producer of IBM’s INNOV8 game series, working with four-star generals and Pentagon officials in developing games for the public defense sector. 
Wednesday is a packed day that includes a 1 Million Cups gathering in the morning and various workshops throughout the afternoon. The day’s main events include a “Law and Entrepreneurship” Q&A session at UNC Law School at 5pm and a Reverse Pitch-a-Thon at 1789 Venture Lab at 5:30pm, focusing on the problem of food insecurity in North Carolina. 
The year-long Carolina Challenge business competition begins on Thursday evening in the Blue Zone at Kenan Stadium with the 2nd Annual “Pitch Party” event. This event is a precursor to the official Carolina Challenge competition, and features UNC students and faculty pitching their business ideas to a group of judges that includes investors, entrepreneurs and various industry experts. The event includes a fast-paced, open atmosphere and gives startups and ideas a chance to win funding. Here’s ExitEvent’s coverage of last year’s event.
1789 Venture Lab plays host to a panel discussion of “Alumni Entrepreneurs Paving Their Own Path” at 5:30pm on Friday evening, with UNC alumni Derwin Dubose of New Majority Community Labs, Coleman Greene of Sqord, Morris Gelblum of Sweeps and Tina Prevatte of Firsthand Foods returning to campus to speak about their entrepreneurial experiences, all with a focus on community development. 
The week comes to a close with two events on Saturday at 1789 Venture Lab. 
Beginning at 9am, a design thinking bootcamp will focus on the recurring theme of food insecurity. On Saturday afternoon, the Hult Prize @UNC Pitch Competition provides a close to the week. The competition is a qualifying round for the Hult Prize’s national challenge, which includes a $1 million grand prize to fund a high-growth social enterprise working to increase income opportunities for those living in crowded urban spaces.