UPDATE: Global Conference Profile: Jessica Matthews & the sOccket

Due to an immediate travel commitment, Jessica will be unable to attend this year's conference and sends her sincerest apologies. However, we have been coincidentally fortunate in having an offer from Thomas Gibson (Founder of SEAF and President of the Institute of SME Finance) to come to Darden to speak at our conference. Keep an eye out for more Conference profiles.


On January 31st, Darden will be hosting it's first every Global Conference. Hosted by a broad coalition of affinity clubs at Darden, the conference brings in speakers from around the world with experiences from Africa, to Asia and Latin America. In the run-up to the conference we will be profiling various speakers and panelists. You can register for the conference for free and check out our website for more information.

Jessica Matthews | CEO & Founder of Uncharted Play

The sOccket looks like a regular soccer ball, but it doubles as an energy-harvesting source that can help light up communities without access to electricity.
Jessica O. Matthews and Julia Silverman, who are in their early 20s, came up with the idea for the sOccket while working on a class project during their junior year at Harvard. They were taking an engineering class for non-engineering majors and were tasked with addressing a social issue through art and science.
Both had traveled extensively through Africa – Matthews is Nigerian-American – and knew that soccer was a hugely popular sport. They also noticed that African children made soccer balls out of just about anything, including discarded plastic bags.
“We wanted to create a product that would change their lives,” says Matthews. In Africa, limited access to electricity leads to the use of fume-emitting kerosene lamps that are expensive to fuel and harmful to the health (The fumes the children inhale from these lamps are the equivalent of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.)
International Spokesperson
Last May, Matthews and Silverman set up their social enterprise, Uncharted Play, to create fun products and services that address major societal issues. The team has received funding from grants and family members to help develop their product, but Matthews says that raising money has been the toughest challenge.
“Social impact is important to us. It’s in the heart of what we do and that’s what we established our business model on. It’s hard to find the right people who believe in the same things that we believe in.” To date, they have about 6,000 sOcckets confirmed for distribution to developing countries in Africa, Central America, and Asia.
Since starting, Jessica has spoken at TEDxRio+20 and the first ever TEDWomen this past year. A current HBS student, she is committed to developing her business and inspiring young professionals to make a global difference. 
Come hear her speak this Jan 31st @ UVA - Darden School of Business.

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