HUACAS, Costa Rica — China Riddle, a pre-law, English, and history student at Alice Lloyd College, was recently a key participant and student teacher in the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation Service & Social Entrepreneurship Program Summer Institute, which took place in Huacas, Costa Rica.
The institute teaches students to utilize social entrepreneurship principles to address social problems and create systemic change. Many regard social entrepreneurship as the new hope for alleviating seemingly intractable social ills because of its great successes in various forms around the world.
Riddle and a group of students representing a dozen colleges and universities affiliated with the Sullivan Foundation commenced their summer experience with a rigorous study of social entrepreneurship, including designing a theory of change, developing marketing and fundraising strategies, and creating social business plans. Upon completing the coursework, the students began an internship in which they applied their newfound knowledge of entrepreneurial principles and developed social business plans for locally-owned small businesses in and around Huacas, Costa Rica. Participants also assisted a youth summer camp with CEPIA, a Costa Rican, non-governmental organization that promotes culture, health, sports, and education for impoverished children, teenagers and their families. The summer concluded with a presentation from each student of their social business plan to CEPIA, community partners and local residents.
“Alice Lloyd College is dedicated to providing its students with a high-quality, character-based education, which includes opportunities to expand their learning experiences. Our faculty and staff support service learning and are actively involved in the efforts of the Sullivan Foundation,” said Jim Stepp, executive vice president of he college. “We believe that China and our other students who learn, first-hand, the possibilities of social entrepreneurship, will greatly enhance their potential to benefit themselves—and others—from their experiences.”
The small businesses receiving assistance as a result of the students’ efforts included Harmonia Pura, a mobile spa operated by eight low-income women; GuanArte, a group of women artisans launching their own business; and a start-up ecotourism company spearheaded by high school students. A fourth group of American students assisted CEPIA with generating support for a new integrated community center (CCI). The underlying goals of each project included empowering community members, alleviating poverty, and building a model for sustainable operations.
Riddle helped facilitate three classes a week to high school students, with topics ranging from business management to English language skills for the tourism industry. Her team’s goal was to provide the students with a strong foundation to successfully launch an ecotourism business by December 2012.
The students who participated in the Summer Institute attend Clemson University, the College of William and Mary, Duke University, Elon University, Erskine College, Oglethorpe University, Rollins College, Salem College, Stetson University, the University of the Cumberlands, and the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Debbi Brock of Wingate University instructed the two-week social entrepreneurship course, while Dr. Keith Whittingham of Rollins College facilitated the internships. The students also received assistance from four mentors: Berry College alumna and TheAfricanSoup founder Brin Enterkin, Brenau University MBA graduate Iben Nelson, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Ph.D. student Lauren Hutchison, and University of California, Berkeley MPP graduate David Gray.
The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation was created in 1930 to honor young men and women who show remarkable character and integrity, and who demonstrate a commitment to service to others. The Foundation provides scholarships to 31 colleges and universities and presents annual rewards to graduating seniors at 61 institutions in the American South. Today, the Sullivan Foundation is growing beyond scholarships and awards to encourage the study of philanthropy, service, and social entrepreneurship on all college campuses. If you would like more information about the Sullivan Foundation or the Summer Institute, please visit www.sullivanfdn.org.