In a digital age age that has decentralized communications and automated much of the workforce, entrepreneurship and innovative startups quickly are becoming the new model for doing business in the U.S.A.
Medgar Evers College's School of Business is working hard to make sure its students keep pace with this burgeoning DIY economy, through an experiential learning approach to business education that is taking its students around the world.
Most recently, MEC Business School Dean Jo-Ann Rolle accompanied seven MEC business students on a 10-day trip to Japan, China and Thailand-- a big deal for these students, many of whom are without extensive resources and lack the means for extensive travel. In past years, Dean Rolle has taken students to Kenya and different parts the Caribbean.
Focused on entrepreneurship, the students met School of Business Industry Board Advisor W. Dave Dowrich of AIG in Japan, as well as leaders of start-ups and major corporations.
The College's Entrepreneurship and Experiential Learning (EEL) Lab supports entrepreneurship, with a focus on minority- and women-owned businesses. The goal is to go beyond finding jobs to creating jobs. Working with Dr. Iris Billy, EEL Director, students were able to see Asia up close, as well as businesses with more of a technology than a community basis. The Asia trip was but the latest example of how MEC's EEL lab is making inroads into the business world.
"The point is that they see a world beyond them," said Dean Rolle. "To do that, you have to understand culture and market niche."
Ashley Warmington, a product of the EEL lab, became the first woman ever to win the grand prize in the prestigious CUNY SmartPitch competition in May, taking home $10,000. She has an Airbnb concierge service.
Aliza Carter and Anika McInnis are the first two EEL students to co-author a published paper, titled "Increasing Social Media for Women & Minority firms." Written with Dean Rolle and Dr. Billy, it appeared in the November, 2016 issue of the International Journal of Education and Social Science, a monthly, peer-reviewed journal.
"It was awesome," said Laneika Lyons, a sophomore Computer Science major whose business creates apps for small business owners in the beauty industry.
"Most of the businesses we talked to were start-ups, so they are closer to where we are in development," she said. "It was all informal, just sitting around asking questions. They told us the good, the bad and the ugly."
For more information on the Medgar Ever's EEL Lab program, go here.