Archive for ‘Social Entrepreneurship’

Social Entrepreneurship Studies at City Square

by   |  01.22.15  |  Academics, COBA Alumni, Current Students, Entrepreneurship, Griggs Center, Social Entrepreneurship, Uncategorized


Sixteen ACU students had the opportunity to study Social Entrepreneurship at City Square in Dallas during a January short course. The class was taught by COBA professor, Dr. Laura Phillips. In the short one-week time period, the class covered a wide range of topics related to starting and running a social enterprise (nonprofit or for-profit that has a social mission at its core). Speakers who currently run these types of enterprises, as well as those who consult and advise these organizations, came to share with the class about their own unique experiences. In addition, the class included student presentations on various topics and case study discussions. Students were also taken on a tour of City Square, hearing about how the business operates and ways they are trying to expand.


Many of the speakers were ACU alums, including Robyn Wise, Scott Orr, and Don Crisp. Scott Orr, an ACU and COBA grad, has served in many roles for nonprofit organizations as well as for-profit companies. He is currently the Vice President of Public Affairs for Fidelity Investments.


Scott’s Mantra: Using strengths to accomplish greatness.


Jerita’s Mantra: Bloom where you are planted.

Jerita Howard, an Abilene resident, also came to speak to the class. Jerita is the owner of One Smart Cookie, an online gourmet cookie and brownie gift package company. Like Scott, Jerita has also served in various roles throughout her professional career. Both of these entrepreneurs provided valuable insights on business operations and social enterprises.

DSC_6993Dr. Laura Phillips loved the broad mix of majors that were represented in the class this year. She says, “The class succeeds because of the knowledge, experience, and honesty of the 14 guest speakers. While not all of the students who took the class plan to start a social enterprise, I think all of the students benefited from the class.” After taking the class, she hopes students feel equipped to work with social ventures in the way that fits their life and career goals.


Emily Adkins, a sophomore Pre-Physical Therapy major from Irving, TX, enjoyed taking the class at City Square. She feels like she has learned the basics of social enterprises and that she could comfortably work in this type of environment now. “This class really pushed me outside of my comfort zone in a good way! I love social enterprises and I can see myself working for one some day. Listening to these speakers opened my eyes to how these organizations help people in an effective way.”


Next Stop: COBA Heads to Central America

by   |  09.23.14  |  Academics, Current Students, Entrepreneurship, Faith Infusion, Griggs Center, Poverty and Development, Social Entrepreneurship, Study Abroad

mission lazarus

Group at the Cerro Negro Volcano in Nicaragua.

At the end of the the summer, 18 students along with Dr. Andy Little and Dr. Jim Litton, traveled south to study abroad in Central America. Students had the opportunity to earn credit in Global Entrepreneurship as well as MGMT 440, including special topics: Business Practicum in Central America. COBA also co-taught an Honors College colloquium on social entrepreneurship in developing countries. The group spent the first two days in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, stayed at Mission Lazarus for nine days, and ended the trip in Leon, Nicaragua.


The trip challenged the students to evaluate how they want to conduct business in the future. They were able to use their business skills in social entrepreneurship, learning how to apply these skills in a missional context. Because the group was surrounded by widespread poverty, this study abroad trip was unlike other COBA programs. Working in Central America gave students and professors a chance to see the complexity and difficulties of globalization and economic development in third world countries.

Throughout the trip, students were able to tour local businesses, go behind the scenes with ACU alum Jarrod Brown at Mission Lazarus, visit a local Honduran co-operative coffee company, and speak to several different business leaders in Honduras. Unlike the local co-op, Mission Lazarus had a much smaller profit margin; because of their commitment to operating the business in a godly manner, they strive to treat employees fairly and with dignity.


Stephanie Day, a senior accounting major from Oklahoma City, was highly encouraged by the trip. She believes in the power of the business principles she learned this summer, even if in the future she does not work in social entrepreneurship. Stephanie encourages students to get plugged in and study abroad at some point in their college career. She says, “There are so many incredible things we can learn in a classroom setting, but there’s something about seeing those principles applied firsthand in other countries that makes the learning experience so much more valuable.”

The encounters students get to experience while studying abroad are truly one of a kind. In Central America, students were able to see firsthand how businesses function in developing countries. COBA is intentional with providing students unique opportunities to integrate learning key business principles with developing students to reach their potential and find their missional calling.


“Because each culture is so different, God is able to manifest himself in different ways; studying abroad is so remarkable because not only does it expose you to a new way of learning, but it also gives students the opportunity to see God in an entirely new light,” says Stephanie Day, a senior accounting major.

Students Experience City Square

by   |  02.13.14  |  Academics, Current Students, Entrepreneurship, Griggs Center, Poverty and Development, Social Entrepreneurship


During January, several COBA students as well as non-business majors took a January short course, Social Entrepreneurship, with Dr. Laura Phillips at City Square in Dallas. In the fall of 2012, ACU began to partner with City Square, combining curricular and co-curricular experiences for student leadership development. CitySquare is a faith-based, non-profit, human and community development corporation that promotes learning and formation through engagement, including projects, courses, internships, formative experiences, and degree programs. Courses at City Square offer opportunities for in-context learning, allowing students to be hands-on outside of the traditional classroom.

During the short course, 18 guests came to speak with students about social organizations and the different pieces that make up these organizations. The class offered a series of breakfast lectures where speakers discussed vital parts of nonprofit businesses that must be considered when working for or starting any nonprofit. Guests speakers, including Suzanne Smith, Founder and Managing Director of Social Impacts Architects and Co-Founder of Flywheel: Social Enterprise Hub, spoke about measuring success from a social perspective. Mark Jacobs, Senior Director of Operations for The Medicines Company, started His Chase Foundation in 2010 and is now focusing all efforts in Rwanda, providing 250+ students with educational opportunities. Mark gave students opportunities to engage and brainstorm ideas for his initiatives in Rwanda. Speakers also addressed questions concerning other aspects of a non-profit organization such as raising funds, the grant application process, how to start a board of members, social media, and the basic business principles included in a financial statement.

The majority of the class was comprised of business majors but all students found the information very useful even if they had no intention of starting an enterprise. Shanleigh Clinton, a nutrition major, says that she was worried the material would not be applicable to her. However, she says, “This class actually helped me understand how to balance mission and margin and how to have a greater impact in what I do.” Shanleigh plans on becoming a registered dietician, partnering with a feeding and nutrition education program and potentially working with a social enterprise.

Chase jon shan al pres 1   Fundraising breakfast 2

Al Shanleigh


From Vietnam to Canada: The International Accomplishments of One COBA Grad

by   |  10.09.12  |  COBA Alumni, Social Entrepreneurship, Study Abroad

Many of our students wonder where they’ll be and what they’ll be doing five or six years from now. Some imagine that they’ll be accountants or own their own business, and some imagine that they’ll have spouses and children. No matter what their dreams, most of our graduates imagine that they’ll be doing something incredible six years down the road.

The impressive thing is the ones who actually do.

Take Sarah Easter for example.

Sarah Easter

Sarah graduated from ACU in 2006 with a B.B.A. in Management and Marketing. Since then, she has completed an MBA at Rollins College in Florida, worked as a Marketing Specialist for Correct Craft, Inc., worked as a Marketing and Business Development Advisor for the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, and worked as a Senior Strategy Analyst for Correct Craft, Inc.

Whether you could distinguish it or not, hidden behind all the technical lingo of Sarah’s job titles lies an unbelievable resume for someone who completed their undergraduate degree a mere six years ago.

However, this list alone isn’t what makes Sarah’s career path so incredible. In fact, one of the crowning jewels of her young resume is a case study called “Vietnam Handicraft Initiative: Moving Toward Sustainable Operations.

This case documents Sarah’s time in Vietnam, where she completed a one-year assignment as a business developer and marketing advisor to the Vietnam Handicraft Initiative, a vocational training and employment center for disabled individuals in Vietnam. In this role, Sarah worked hard to overcome cultural differences and language barriers in order to increase the organization’s productivity and sustainability.

A photo taken in Hue, Vietnam, where Sarah worked

To top it all off, Sarah’s case study was published by The Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario. Although most of us Americans may not realize it, this publishing company is actually the leading case publisher in Canada.

Impressed yet?

Dr. Monty Lynn, Associate Dean of ACU’s College of Business, certainly is. Not only does Dr. Lynn believe that the publication of Sarah’s case is an “outstanding accomplishment,” he will also be using the case study this spring as a part of one of his classes, ECON 438: International Poverty and Development.

The thing that Dr. Lynn really appreciates about Sarah’s case is the fact that it is documentation of just one student’s impact on the world. As Dr. Lynn points out,

“A lot of students have gone out and done amazing things.”

At COBA, we are passionate about the fact that our students can change the world. That’s why components of the business school like The Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy and COBA’s Study Abroad programs are so crucial: they prepare COBA students to work in America, but also around the world; in economic bounty, but also in the third world.

Sarah is currently working on a PhD in Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Victoria.

Where will you be in six years?

An aerial photo of University of Victoria, where Sarah is pursuing her PhD

Business Meets Missions at Mission Lazarus

by   |  09.21.12  |  Social Entrepreneurship, Special Speakers

What sells coffee, necklaces, leather goods, and carpentry while simultaneously educating children, providing medical care, and employing local people?

Mission Lazarus, of course.

What’s even better than an organization that does everything listed above?

One that serves in the name of Jesus.

“Our projects are a mean to an end. Our end is bringing people to Jesus Christ,” said Jarrod Brown, President and Co-Founder of Mission Lazarus.

Jarrod, who spent about a decade in Honduras before relocating to Nashville, Tennessee, joined professors Andy Little and Monty Lynn this week in a three-part lecture series on social entrepreneurship at ACU’s annual “Summit” conference.

Jarrod Brown, President and Co-Founder of Mission Lazarus

Social entrepreneurship, which can be defined as mission-driven entrepreneurship with a distinctly social focus, is a rapidly growing segment of the nonprofit landscape. In order to further explore this elusive concept, Drs. Little and Lynn left the textbooks behind and joined Jarrod in providing a unique intersection of principles that have been taught in air-conditioned classrooms but applied in the mountainous jungles of the third world.

As he discussed the rare marriage of business and missions that is Mission Lazarus, Jarrod talked about the dangers often lurking behind short-term missions. As he pointed out, Americans often take advantage of orphaned or impoverished children when they visit for a week, post the highlights of their trip on Facebook, and then return to the States feeling as if they have utterly changed the world.

However, the sad reality is that when Americans go home on emotional, self-congratulatory highs, monetary poverty continues to run rampant throughout the third world.

So how does Mission Lazarus differ from this standard model of self-fulfilling aid work?

It’s structured, in some ways, like a business.

You see, like any successful business, Mission Lazarus is focused on perpetually raising up new leadership, much of which is actually from Honduras. By partnering with local people, Mission Lazarus is able to form relationships and provide mentoring that goes beyond the typical workplace interface and that extends beyond a week. As a result, these relationships provide the opportunity for Christ to be shared through the work Jarrod and his co-workers are doing in Honduras.

COBA Students on a Study Abroad trip to Mission Lazarus

Another business-like aspect of Mission Lazarus is the fact that it actually contains several for-profit agricultural ventures, like a coffee plantation. (To buy Mission Lazarus coffee, click here.) Through these ventures, Mission Lazarus is able to cover 12% of its total expenses…by itself.

This self-sufficiency not only provides donor confidence in where money goes, it also means that as Mission Lazarus needs less and less money to run its current opportunities, it has the chance to continue growing and expanding.

Through this stellar example of social entrepreneurship, Jarrod and his entire team have followed God’s lead and found themselves right in the middle of God’s work in Honduras. As a result, lives are being changed, not just through the provision of food and education, but through the knowledge of who Jesus is and how He can utterly transform lives.

In Tuesday’s session, Dr. Lynn made a profound point: “Development must be both inward and outward.”

At Mission Lazarus, inward and outward development are every day occurrences.

What are you doing to develop yourself as both a leader and a follower of Christ today?

For more information about Mission Lazarus, click here, and to find out more about COBA’s Summer Study Abroad Trip to Mission Lazarus, email Andy Little at or Jim Litton at

COBA Students in Honduras

For Dan Austin, Social Entrepreneurship is Just Like Riding a Bike

by   |  09.14.12  |  Distinguished Speakers Series, Entrepreneurship, Griggs Center, Social Entrepreneurship, Special Speakers

This Wednesday the Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy kicked off its Entrepreneur Speaker Series with a lunch presentation by Dan Austin, co-founder of 88bikes.

With an audience of nearly one-hundred-and-fifty, Dan spent the better part of an hour regaling his audience with tales of life as a social entrepreneur.

Dan Austin, Co-Founder of 88bikes

Originally an author and filmmaker, Dan began his journey with 88bikes in 2006, when he and his brother, Jared, took a biking trip across Cambodia. At the conclusion of their journey, the two donated their personal bikes and 86 additional bikes to children at the Palm Tree Orphanage in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Seeing the joy elicited by their gift of 88 bikes, the pair was moved to action, and they began pursuing their vision of “joy-inspired philanthropy.”

Since their initial gift of 88 bikes, Dan and his coworkers (none of whom receive salaries) have connected donors with children all over the world through their one-to-one giving model.

Because of the unique giving model implemented by 88bikes, donors know exactly where their money goes. Furthermore, they receive a picture of their child standing next to their new bike with a picture of their donor in hand. Through this photo exchange, 88bikes is able to create a unique international connection.

Children receiving bikes and photos of their donors from 88bikes

As Dan explained, this one-to-one connection is fundamental to 88bikes, and—in his opinion—to any social entrepreneurship venture.

As part of this presentation, Dan offered three critical pieces of advice to budding entrepreneurs:

 1.  Connect one-to-one.

2. Raise the bar.

3. Go local.

As Dan went on to explain, the success that 88bikes has found is largely due to these three components.

88bikes’ one-to-one connection creates loyal donors who are truly invested in the organization and the children it serves. In addition, the organization raises the bar set by traditional aid agencies by focusing on the intrinsic human need for joy as well as physical needs like hunger. Finally, 88bikes employs local bike merchants and mechanics in order to boost the local economy. As a result of these strategies, 88bikes is continuing to grow and thrive.

Cassie Powers, a junior here in COBA, is currently in a Social Entrepreneurship class. “The biggest issue that I have learned so far in social entrepreneurship is that you need to set yourself up for failure because it is going to happen,” said Cassie. “You have to work around it to make it work or come up with a new idea.”

Dan talking with ACU students after his presentation

While listening to Dan, Cassie was really impressed with the way that she saw her class curriculum align with Dan’s real world experience and advice. “It really connected when Dan Austin spoke about the barriers he had,” continued Cassie. “One thing he said was to have your organization grow organically. Meaning if it happens it happens.”

All in all, the inaugural event of the Entrepreneur Speaker Series was a huge success, and undoubtedly had a profound impact on everyone who attended.

Be sure to check out the next speaker in the series, Jarrod Brown, who will be joining us next Tuesday to talk about his work in Honduras with Mission Lazarus. For more information on the Entrepreneur Speaker Series, please click here.

For more on 88bikes and the incredible work that Dan and his organization do, click here, and be sure to thank the Griggs Center and the members of our CEO organization for all that they do to make these events possible.

Dan with COBA students after his presentation