Jurek Sikorski, a mentor for our student Henley Challenge competition, shares his tips for creating a strong proposal for the competition and answering the theme question:
‘Social change…business gain
How can your sector or field contribute to creating a better society for all and still meet shareholder demands?’
A well written proposal will improve your chances of reaching the final of the Henley Challenge. So how do you write a great proposal on the theme of social change to convince the judges?
There are five basic steps:
1: Make a strong introduction and capture the attention of judges with a statement that fires the imagination.
For example if you are looking to bring focus on a social issue like homelessness then start with a statement like, ‘imagine if we were to solve homelessness in our cities, that would be a massive social change’.
2: Define the problem.
- Describe the causes of the problem and what impact the problem has on society.
- Address the question of why this problem needs to be solved.
- Be sure to validate with data drawn from research.
For example you might say, ‘the number of homeless in England has risen for 5 years in a row with an estimated 250,000 people a year now affected in England’.
3: Put forward your solution to the problem.
- This is arguably the most important part of the proposal.
- Include how, where and why you would deliver the solution.
For example your solution might be ‘have companies donate a small percentage of their profits to local homelessness charities which are used to rent shelters or build homelessness communes, leveraging companies’ social conscience’.
4: Set out a timetable and financial budget, including sourcing the money.
- In preparing your budget, think of it as a pitch for investment.
- What you want to do is convince the judges that this is a good investment so be sure to provide solid and detailed financial information.
5: Draft a conclusion that summarises the benefits of adopting your proposal.
- Specifically, mention how the benefits will outweigh the costs.
And don’t forget:
Make your proposal the best it can be by having someone else review and edit it to make it clear and concise and free of errors.
A number of academics, including myself, are offering mentoring support to entrants. See the Henley Challenge webpage for more details on who we are, how to contact us, and the drop-in support session on Monday 16 January.
Henley Challenge Mentor
Executive Director of Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship
Founder of Henley Business Angels