Carl H. Lindner College of BusinessCarl H. Lindner College of BusinessUniversity of Cincinnati

Carl H. Lindner College of Business

Social Entrepreneurship Students and Mentors Solve Problems

Submitted: 4/5/2010 14:06:01
  • A group of University of Cincinnati (UC) honors students took on the mission of blending the worlds of social responsibility and entrepreneurship in a unique class. The students from across campus, including the Colleges of Business, Engineering, and Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) addressed a variety of social problems from the needs of the homeless to making a greener planet and beyond. Three UC professors from the College of Business, Dr. Amit Raturi (QA/OM), Dr. Charles H. Matthews (ENTR/MGMT), and Dr. Raj Mehta (MRKT) team taught the first time course on Social Entrepreneurship

This past Winter Quarter, a group of University of Cincinnati (UC) students took on the mission of blending the worlds of social responsibility and entrepreneurship in a unique class. Three UC professors from the College of Business, Dr. Amit Raturi (QA/OM), Dr. Charles H. Matthews (MGMT), and Dr. Raj Mehta (MRKT) team taught a first time course on Social Entrepreneurship to a class of honors students from across campus, including the Colleges of Business, Engineering, and Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP). Dr. Ratui received a $750 grant from Great Cities, Great Service (Center for Community Engagement, University of Cincinnati) to facilitate the class.



One of the unique aspects of the class was the inclusion of a team of mentors from the business community who recently completed the College of Business Back-to-Business program for displaced workers. "Using Back-to-Business participants as mentors for the groups was a huge success," commented Dr. Raturi. "The mentors helped the groups in many ways ? contacts, references, direction and focus, and even specific advice on different aspects of the business plan."

In addition to the faculty and mentors, the students heard from a cadre of outstanding guest speakers who shared insights on leading edge social and economic issues. "We were very fortunate to have such an engaged group of speakers," noted Dr. Matthews. "They not only enriched the discussion, but provided the spark for bold thinking about solutions to real world problems."



The students formed four teams, defined a problem and developed a new venture solution to address the problem. The teams presented their business plans in a formal session before a panel of judges from the community including entrepreneurs, scientists, and experts from the non-profit sector. "It was amazing to see the progress the teams made from an idea to business plan in such a short time," commented judge and local entrepreneur Roger Johannigman. "All the ideas presented have potential to launch," added Warren Falberg, President/CEO of Visiting Nurse Association. Additional judges included businessman Lawrence Flick (VP at Gilkey Window), entrepreneur Suren Hegde (owner, Cincinnati Valve Co.), social entrepreneur Ted Bergh (former CFO SORTA/Metro and Principal at Community Venture LLC), and serial entrepreneur Christopher Hytry Derrington.



The teams attacked problems ranging from the needs of the homeless to living on a greener planet an beyond. New venture business plans presented included Nurish ? a locally sourced meal vending truck; Urbeco Farms - Hydroponic Grower and Restaurant; OTR Backyard Produce ? transforming vacant property to productive green space; and The Corner Post ? a secure mail drop for the homeless. "All of the teams researched, analyzed, and synthesized the problems and formulated very executable plans," noted Dr. Mehta. "Based on the success of this class, we hope to be able to offer the course again. It was definitely a triple win for the students, the community, and the planet."



About the Social Entrepreneurship Course: Social entrepreneurship recognizes social problems (hunger, poverty, environment, health) and uses entrepreneurial skills to create, organize and manage a venture for social change. This seminar exposes students to basic ideas of social entrepreneurship as well as provides them with an opportunity to design and create a venture with a mature and experienced mentor.

For more information, contact Dr. Amit Raturi, amit.raturi@uc.edu; Dr. Charles H. Matthews, charles.matthews@uc.edu; or Dr. Raj Mehta, raj.mehta@uc.edu