Fargreen, a social enterprise using technology to convert rice straw waste into a product that can be used for mushroom farming, edged out five other finalist teams to win the grand prize of $12,500 at the University of Washington's Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition, held last week in Seattle.
The grand prize, sponsored by Microsoft and the Seattle International Foundation, was presented by James Rooney, Senior Manager at Microsoft's Technology for Good program. Rooney credited Fargreen co-founders Trang Tran and Tanmay Milind Telang, both MBA students at Colorado State University, with "combining a great idea with a solid business plan."
The business model presented by Tran and Telang would reduce greenhouse gases produced by the burning of rice straw waste – 20 million tons annually according to the team – while creating an opportunity for farmers to diversify their crop yields and gain additional income by growing and selling mushrooms.
"We plan to use the prize money to build our first mushroom facilities for ten farmers who already signed up to be in our network," said Tran. "The construction and production will happen this summer."