How Students Can Improve the World and Your Business

Do you ever get really excited, because you come across a program which adresses a pet issue – a pet issue which is rarely adressed?  Well that’s how I feel right now.  I came across a great program yesterday which addresses a pet issue of mine, and could help your business, and your city in the future.

What am I talking about?

The South Side Entrepreneurial Connect Project (SSECP) launched in June 2004 in Syracuse, NY.  The Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University wanted their students to turn around the Syracuse’s “inner city”: the South Side.  How? By fostering the development of an entrepreneurial community.  The SSECP has created a supportive infrastructure for small businesses and they lend the encouragement, assistance and resources needed to increase the number of startups and to ensure the long-term sustainability of those startups and existing businesses.

Who’s running the SSECP?

Graduate students work together with SU faculty to work with small businesses and to start new initiatives.  They walk prospectve business owners through the business plan process and help them get financing.  They even have a center which provides reduced rent and infrastructure such as internet, phones, etc.  The students give classes at the center.

How can this impact you if you don’t live in Syracuse?

The model for the SSECP actually started much further away than Syracuse.

Michael H. Morris, who holds the Witting Chair in Entrepreneurship at Syracuse, helped develop the idea for a program to create economic growth while teaching in South Africa. Morris and his colleagues started the program to encourage entrepreneurship in South Africa’s black townships, which Morris described as the most poverty-stricken areas of the country.

“A lot of what we developed there has some transferability to the inner cities of America,” Morris said. “The issue is simply, ‘how do you create economic opportunity for people?’ And the old, out-of-date thinking is you do that by getting big companies, like General Electric or Wal-Mart to locate facilities in the inner city or wherever. And the reality is that’s not how you do it. It doesn’t work; it’s not sustainable. You do it by doing it organically. By empowering people to create their own ventures and supporting them.” – The Daily Orange

What Morris is doing is he has created a grassroots model which he designed for a 3rd world country, and he is having students apply it here.  He hopes that his initiative will be used as a model at other Universities across the US.  I hope so too!  Everyone wins – the students, the businesses, and the communities.  Let’s hope this program gets picked up by the University in your area.

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