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K-State Today

October 4, 2011

Gaining momentum by helping others: College of Business Administration social entrepreneurship emphasis draws interest

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

On college campuses across the nation, students can be seen wearing shoes by a brand that promises to give a pair of shoes to children in need. TOMS Shoes, a for-profit company, has captured customers with its social model. The same can be said about Kansas State University's Center for the Advancement of Entrepreneurship's growth: It's emphasis on social entrepreneurship has garnered interest from students across the K-State campus.

"Social entrepreneurship is really growing and it's because the students are so interested. They get really excited when they learn of simple ideas that turn into amazing success stories, such as TOMS Shoes," said Chad Jackson, associate director of the Center for the Advancement of Entrepreneurship. "The focus is on what the entity can do to benefit others, not just making a profit. A business does not automatically have to be a nonprofit organization to address issues of hunger, clean water and homelessness."

The center offers an entrepreneurship major through the K-State College of Business Administration, as well as an annual, campuswide entrepreneurship competition, The NEXT Big Thing, which has a social entrepreneurship division.

On Monday, Oct. 10, the center will offer a workshop on social entrepreneurship to introduce more students to this area of business. The workshop will be at 3:30 p.m. in the Little Theater at the K-State Student Union and is open to all students. Interested faculty are welcome, too.

"Social entrepreneurship is, I feel, getting to the root of what business is and should be about -- helping others," says Hannah Rodlund, a senior majoring in entrepreneurship and marketing and pursuing minors in leadership studies and economics. "I am really excited about all the social entrepreneurship opportunities that Chad is working hard to bring to K-State. Even students who are not entrepreneurship or business majors will be able to get something out of the speakers, classes and programs dealing with social entrepreneurship."

Courses offered in the College of Business Administration include Introduction to New Venture Creation, which examines the entrepreneurial process and focuses on business start-up. Specific topics covered include new venture planning, marketing, financing and management. The course serves as a strong foundation for those aspiring to own and operate their own business as well as a real-world heads-up course for students who acknowledge that their future in business could very well benefit from examining projects in an entrepreneurial way, whether it is a traditional venture or one with a social component.

Although housed in the College of Business Administration, the Center for the Advancement of Entrepreneurship partners with colleges across campus. The service learning program in the School of Leadership Studies gives K-State students the opportunity to directly improve the lives of those in greatest need, such as the Children and Youth Empowerment Centre, which provides sustainable solutions for street dwelling youth in Kenya.

While the Kenyan center provides a variety of programs to support, the K-State entrepreneurship program is directly involved with the creation of an entrepreneurship education initiative for the youth as well as developing methods to market and sell the products created through the youth enterprises.

"Just as an entrepreneur identifies opportunities to create value and make a profit, a social entrepreneur looks to do the same but by addressing key social issues at the same time," Jackson said.