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Member News: C.C. Eship / NACCE Journal Spring/Summer 2009

Future Entrepreneurs Creating Change

Thursday, July 02, 2009   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Matthew Montoya
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By Rebecca M. Evans, MSBE

Associate Professor Accounting/Business

Blue 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.


Using 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.

 

Materials 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.

 

Eleven 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 village.

 

The 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.

 

Blue 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.


Rebecca Evans may be reached via e-mail at Evansr@brcc.edu or via phone at 540-453-2366.

 


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