Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook or Microsoft founder Bill Gates are names that come to mind at the word “entrepreneur” – creators of successful billion-dollar businesses.
But as McPherson College is preparing for the fifth anniversary of its “Global Enterprise Challenge,” (GEC) they are focusing on a different kind of entrepreneur, a social entrepreneur – people such as Kiva co-founders Jessica Jackley and Matt Flannery, TOMS Shoes Founder Blake Mycoskie, or Terracycle founder Tom Skazy. These are people who use the traits of an entrepreneur – creativity, innovation, and problem-solving – to help others.
Abbey Archer-Rierson, chief of staff and head of the entrepreneurship program at MC, said the world needs both kinds of entrepreneurs and the GEC contest is designed to get students thinking about the possibilities.
“Making money is great,” Archer-Rierson said. “We want McPherson College entrepreneurs to make a great career doing what they love. At the same time, MC entrepreneurs also realize that they need to help society. Usually, even those entrepreneurs working to earn money also want to give back – to make the world better.”
McPherson College’s entrepreneurship program celebrates those who use their entrepreneurial talents in their careers, those who use them to help society… and those who do both. That’s why MC participates in during Global Entrepreneurship Week – Nov. 16 to 22 – with its GEC contest.
Since 2010, the challenge has recognized and rewarded McPherson College students who take on the “dare” to come up with entrepreneurial ideas to help those in other countries. Over the years, that has included Haiti, Panama and Ethiopia, and the winners of each challenge have won the opportunity to travel to that country as well.
Dee Erway-Sherwood, associate professor and program director of graphic design, is heading up organizing GEC this year. She said that between business and social, the GEC has a clear focus.
“I think entrepreneurial ventures can be both venture and social,” she said. “This is definitely on the social side of the house.”
Archer-Rierson said that this year the challenge will again focus on Haiti – the same country as the first Global Enterprise Challenge in 2010.
“We’re so pleased to focus the Global Enterprise Challenge on Haiti on the 5th anniversary of the challenge,” Archer-Rierson said. “It is an area of the world that needs so many creative and dedicated entrepreneurs to help.”
This GEC will have a slightly different challenge than the first one, however. During the first year, students were asked to envision a new social venture to help in Haiti. This year, they are being asked to help an existing program – the Haiti Medical Project – by developing a public relations awareness campaign for it.
The Haiti Medical Project started with funds from the McPherson Church of the Brethren and with the leadership of 1989 MC alumnus Paul Ullom-Minnich. Ullom-Minnich is a founder of Partners in Family Care in Moundridge, Inman, McPherson and Hesston, Kan. The Haiti Medical Project grew out of a medical mission trip that he took to Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. The project grew and now provides mobile clinics across Haiti to those in need of medical care.
For the Global Enterprise Challenge, students may use any form of storytelling for the contest, such as writing, video, photos or graphic design. The winning student will get to travel with Ullom-Minnich to Haiti in 2016 to learn more about the country, further refine their awareness campaign, and then implement the campaign upon returning to the states.
Erway-Sherwood said working with an organization with deep roots in the McPherson community was great for the students in the challenge.
“That’s why I’m personally excited that our students get to do this,” she said. “It has that local tie.”
Students start with the challenge on Nov. 12 with a required sign-up and information meeting. Then on Thursday, Nov. 19, participating students will present their awareness campaigns to a judging panel. Finally, the winning student will be announced on Friday, Nov. 20 during an Entrepreneurship Fair starting at noon. That Friday, the college will also host a visit day for area high school students involved with Youth Entrepreneurs.
Learn more about the Haiti Medical Project at www.brethren.org/haiti-medical-project and read more about the Global Enterprise Challenge at www.mcpherson.edu/gec.