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Entrepreneurship program reaches local, global communities
Entrepreneurship program reaches local, global communitiesNovember 16, 2004Cynthia J. Moritzcjmoritz@syr.edu
One common stereotype of entrepreneurs is that they are consumed with finding the big idea that will make them their first million, with little concern for the rest of the world. The Department of Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises (EEE) and the Falcone Entrepreneurship Center, both in the Whitman School of Management, are busting that stereotype. They are reaching out in a number of ways to the surrounding community, and to the world.
“People such as Michael Dell, Richard Branson and Mary Kay Ash are certainly notable entrepreneurs,” says EEE Director and Witting Chair in Entrepreneurship Michael Morris, “but so too are Mahatma Gandhi, Ralph Nader and Mother Teresa. Entrepreneurs aren’t necessarily concerned only about making their own dreams come true. They’re also people who work to affect the world in a positive way.”
Four major initiatives reflect the EEE Program’s commitment to the community. Last year, the Falcone Center instituted the Syracuse Entrepreneurs Bootcamp and the Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (WISE) Program, both designed to help prospective entrepreneurs from the Central New York community. This year, EEE is adding two new programs, one that will reach into the community and one that will aid previously disadvantaged South African entrepreneurs.
The South Side Entrepreneurial Development Project represents an attempt to become meaningfully engaged in a part of the community that has suffered the most as a result of the economic decline of the region. An initial part of this program will find the 60 members of the Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Learning Community, sponsored by EEE, working throughout the academic year to support small businesses on the South Side.
The students are being challenged to create value for the businesses. The goal is to help these firms become sustainable and to grow. Student teams will offer help in a variety of areas, including marketing, business plan development, customer service, inventory management, Web site design and preparation of funding presentations. Sample businesses include a newsstand, a soul-food restaurant, an African import business and a shop that rebuilds old computers.
“As is happening at many institutions, SU has to define itself as an engine of economic development,” Morris says. “Syracuse is a community with severe economic challenges, and the University has to step up to the plate.”
Moving onto the world stage, EEE and the Division of International Programs Abroad will start the Entrepreneurship and Empowerment program in South Africa next summer. During the six-week program, students will take a seminar at the University of Cape Town’ s Graduate School of Business that will introduce them to many of the practical challenges confronting entrepreneurs in the townships surrounding Cape Town. They will also form teams that will each be assigned to two entrepreneurs. The students will be expected to identify and prioritize the entrepreneurs’ key needs and make meaningful progress in addressing some of these needs.
“These entrepreneurs have managed to overcome a history of apartheid, limited education and severely constrained resources to create small enterprises,” says Minet Schindehutte, associate professor of entrepreneurship and coordinator of the program, who was born and raised in South Africa. “Their ventures range from catering and arts and crafts businesses to community newspapers and small manufacturing operations. Some are unregistered, most are under-financed and each has distinct needs and opportunities. However, they all share a common dream of making their ventures sustainable and achieving growth.”
The summer program will be open to 10 seniors and graduate students.
For more information on the EEE and the Falcone Center, visit http://whitman.syr.edu/eee/.