Future Entrepreneurs Creating Change
Thursday, July 02, 2009
Posted by: Matthew Montoya
Rebecca M. Evans, MSBE
Ridge Community College, Weyers Cave, VA
The power of entrepreneurial education can be seen in many places
from Maine to Alaska. However, a true testament to the power of entrepreneurial
education can be seen in a group of students working to create economic
opportunity on an island off the coast of Haiti. LaGonave, Haiti, provides its
80,000 residents with no electricity, limited water resources, no medical care,
or industry. Most of the inhabitants of the island are unemployed and live on
less than $1 per day.
the vision, passion, and determination of any successful entrepreneur, 46
student members of the Blue Ridge Community College SIFE Team developed a
business plan to establish the first rabbit farm on the island of LaGonave in
the village of Zabricot. Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) is a global
nonprofit organization that challenges students to take what they have learned
in the classroom and apply their knowledge to better their communities. BRCC
SIFE students developed a plan to introduce rabbits to the island, provide supplies
and assistance needed to build the farm, and also to educate villagers on how
to run a business, care for livestock, and successfully sell their product.
to construct the farm were shipped by cargo container to Haiti. Training
materials were developed and translated into Haitian Kryeole by BRCC students
who were fluent in the language. Training videos on rabbit handling, meat
processing, and cage building were also developed to allow cooperative members
the ability to study the material. As there is no electricity on LaGonave co-op
members were provided battery operated DVD players for training purposes.
months of research and planning culminated in a group of four students
traveling to LaGonave. Over the course of five days students assisted in
clearing land and building the cooperative. Students trained villagers on
rabbit care, breeding, nutrition, solar disinfection of water, meat processing,
record keeping, business ethics, and how to effectively work as a team.
Sixteen-hour work days ended with the students dirty, sweaty, and hungry but
excited to know the cooperative was moving forward and the people of Zabricot
were working hard to create a farm that would create opportunity for their
Zabricot Cooperative is in business! Two litters of rabbit have gone to market
and the sale of rabbit meat produced on the island was a first! The sale
resulted in proceeds of 5,600 HTG (Haitian Gourde) or $146 U.S. dollars,
equaling over a year of income for the average Haitian. The proceeds were
reinvested into the cooperative and also used to buy food. The members of the
Zabricot Cooperative are working to build their business. Future onsite classes
are planned by BRCC students to increase production, improve rabbit nutrition,
and strengthen recordkeeping skills.
Ridge Community College has proven that the success of entrepreneurial
education is not always measured by a letter grade but can also be found in the
actions of entrepreneurial students who are paying it forward by using their
knowledge to create opportunity for others.
Evans may be reached via e-mail at Evansr@brcc.edu or via phone at