SVPAZ and the HPE Living Progress Challenge

Aug 9, 2016

Written by Sentari Minor, Director of SVPAZ Partner Engagement and Education

Social Venture Partners has cemented itself as the premier organization when it comes to communication training and coaching for social entrepreneurs. Recently, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) partnered with the Social Venture Partners network to mentor, coach, and advise ventures participating in the Living Progress Challenge, a competition to mobilize digital solutions to improve the lives of one million people by 2020. One hundred and thirty proposals were whittled down to 20 semi-finalists, who worked with HPE employees to design a minimum viable product to pitch to a panel of HPE executives on August 3.

During my five years with SVPAZ as a Partner and now on staff, I’ve had the great pleasure and privilege of coaching, mentoring, and advising innovative Valley nonprofits. Through our signature program, Fast Pitch, I developed a love for helping people pitch their passion while developing a cogent and compelling narrative. Because of my affinity for pitch coaching, I was excited when SVP tapped me and former SVPAZ Partner John Couleur as coaches for the 20 semifinalists.


I had the honor of coaching PACT, a global social enterprise based in D.C. that engages the poor and marginalized to ensure their inclusion in the systems necessary for well-being – health, governance, and economic opportunities. The team from PACT, Carrie and Mark, were pitching the WORTH app, which helps streamline village banking for women in third world countries, ultimately allowing them to be effective entrepreneurs.

A great program and product for sure, it was interesting to see such accomplished innovators struggle with how to effectively convey what they do and the potential impact they could have worldwide. It was my job to get them to cut through the technical jargon and focus on three key areas while answering three very important questions:

  • The story of self – why am I called to do this work?
  • The story of us – why is my cause your cause, too?
  • The story of now – why is inaction no longer an option?

Iteration after iteration left us discussing, twice a week, how to best talk about the amazing work they were doing. Moving from presenting the app from the lens of an economist (Carrie) and an IT professional (Mark), we told the story of Collette in the Congo, who benefited firsthand from this program and why Carrie was so invested in empowering these women. Ultimately, PACT and WORTH won the competition not because of the great product and amazing coach (both, indeed, remarkable), but because of the power of storytelling and by answering the simple question of “why?”

I was surprised by how receptive they were to feedback and coaching from a 30-year-old in Arizona, and, in turn, was humbled by their acceptance of my feedback and the overall experience. In just six weeks, we were able to turn a presentation from completely about “the head,” to completely about “the heart” of the project and that approach ultimately won the judges of the Living Progress Challenge.

This experience not only made me more excited to continue work personally, but made me more proud of the work SVPAZ does with helping social entrepreneurs get to the next level. As we enter the 2017 Fast Pitch season, I am eager to reengage with our local nonprofit community and deploy our Partners in meaningful capacity-building work. I hope you’re ready for big things in 2017!

Learn more about the Living Progress Challenge here.

Learn more about WORTH here.

About Pact – Pact is a promise of a better tomorrow for all those who are poor and marginalized. Working in partnership to develop local solutions that enable people to own their own future, Pact helps people and communities build their capacity to generate income, improve access to quality health services, and gain lasting benefit from the sustainable use of the natural resources around them. With more than 3,500 staff at work in more than 30 countries, Pact is building local promise with an integrated, adaptive approach that is shaping the future of international development. Visit us at

About SVPAZ -SVP Arizona is an ever-expanding community of engaged philanthropists dedicated to building the capacity, strength and impact of nonprofits in addressing social problems in the Valley. We accomplish this through:

  • Thoughtful and strategic investments and collaborations
  • Our Partners’ engagement and expertise, and
  • Inspiring and equipping Partners to be more strategic and effective with their giving