The Global Enterprise Challenge winning team (l to r): mentor Chris Paulsen, automotive restoration instructor; Steve Butcher, sophomore, Atlantic, Iowa; Nate Coppernoll, freshman, Stillman Valley, Ill.; Tori Carder, sophomore, Eudora, Kan.; Ryan Stauffer senior, Milford, Neb.; Melisa Grandison (not pictured), senior, Quinter, Kan.; and Michael Schneider, McPherson College President.
The members of Team 5, who called their plan “Beyond Isles”, will each receive a $1,000 scholarship. But more importantly they will have the opportunity to refine their idea with help from provost Kent Eaton and then travel to Haiti to turn their idea into a reality.
President Michael Schneider announced the GEC winners to campus during the entrepreneurship convocation. He praised all of the students who participated in the challenge, encouraging those who did not win to continue on and find a way to make their project happen. He said all of the ideas could make a difference in Haiti.
“Wow, you blew us away,” he said. “You showed us something this week. You made a dent. You created a buzz. You were remarkable.”
The winning idea of “Beyond Isles” is to create a community market that would incorporate a physical market for agricultural and clothing products on the ground in Haiti, a global market through Internet channels, and an educational component for Haitians to continue to develop their skills. This ultimate goal is to give Haitians a foundation for self-sufficiency.
Beyond Isles would provide capital to entrepreneurial Haitians through an existing microfinance institution in Haiti. Then a portion of the product each entrepreneur produces will go to Beyond Isles as an entry fee to be sold online to sustain the program. The Haitian members of the program can then sell the rest of their product in a local marketplace. The team has acquired a network of more than a dozen Haitians, activists and entrepreneurs willing to provide support to the project.
Schneider said the project was a great example of what McPherson College is all about – creating entrepreneurs through liberal arts.
“We’ve been talking about using the modern form of entrepreneurship to lift up liberal arts and today we show the world that liberal arts is more than a concept,” Schneider said. “It is something that can be applied to take learning to a level we never imagined.”
Speaking just before the announcement of the winning team was Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva.org, which connects more than $1 million from individual lenders with entrepreneurs in third world countries. She encouraged the gathered student entrepreneurs to know their mission, collaborate with others and start “doing” – not worrying about mistakes along the way.
Jackley also told of her change in perspective from helping people in need because she felt compelled out of guilt, to helping them out of love and respect.
When people hear stories of possibility rather than despair “it changes the way we think and we respond,” Jackley said.