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Doing well by doing good? It's not easy.

A business class in California helps a US entrepreneur bring peanut paste to Haiti's hungry kids.

Businesslike: Thomas Stehl helps sell Medika Mamba, a nutritious peanut butter paste, to kids in Haiti.

Ben Arnolody/The Christian Science Monitor

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Every entrepreneur here in Silicon Valley has an elevator pitch, a 90-second spiel to lure a potential investor or customer. But few have one like Thomas Stehl's.

He talks about 17-month-old Rosalor, a child in Haiti who arrived at a hospital weighing just 11.9 pounds. She was fed Medika Mamba, a nutrient-packed peanut butter paste made by Mr. Stehl's organization, and in just over a month she gained five pounds and new vitality.

"Rosalor now has a second chance," says Stehl. "There's 120,000 kids just like Rosalor in Haiti. Imagine what's going to happen to the country if they don't [get this] treatment."

While his concern may sound more Sally Struthers than Steve Jobs, Stehl has traveled to Silicon Valley not to solicit donations but to get advice from business experts.

A two-week program at Santa Clara University called the Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI) teams up social entrepreneurs like Stehl with Silicon Valley leaders experienced in taking a new idea to mass production.

The program's results reflect the challenges facing nonprofit organizations that adopt business models to serve their social mission. GSBI has graduated some tremendous success stories. But there's also a keen tension between social and business goals, and the difficulty of cracking some developing country markets makes traditional entrepreneurs wince.


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