By Kristine Milbrandt
A panel discussion, “Ideas Into Action,” seeks to bridge the gap between business and social issues Wednesday, May 23, at Wartburg College
The panel members will talk about their social entrepreneurial successes and proposed initiatives, 9-10:30 a.m., in Whitehouse Business Center 116. The public is invited to attend.
“The best way to understand social entrepreneurship is to learn from examples,” said Dr. Timothy Ewest, associate professor of business administration. “This panel consists of entrepreneurs who have used business skills to address social problems.”
Ewest said the face of social entrepreneurship has changed.
“While the old guard sees tension between business and social causes, the new mindset reconciles this tension and creates successful businesses which address social and environmental issues,” Ewest said.
The panelists include:
- Shalom Nwaokolo ’12, from Nigeria, will discuss LightingNBV — an electrification project aimed at bringing solar lighting to 150 households in rural India — that he co-developed with Ewest and Adamu Muhammad ’13, a fellow Nigerian.
- Mitchell George started Redamte Coffee House in Madison, Wis. “to bring redemption to business, culture and purpose through a socially responsible and community-focused coffee shop ... constantly asking the question, ‘How can we, as a business, make the world better?’”
- Conrad Mandsager ’75 founded Child Voice International, a Christian “therapeutic community for children and youth traumatized by conflict —war orphans, former child soldiers, or members of displaced families.”
- Clark Wilharm, director of the Larrabee Center in Waverly, which helps the disabled and elderly. It also works with Wartburg, offering internships and acting as a partner business.
“The goal is to provide an illustration and explanation of entrepreneurship, but more importantly to allow participants to be inspired and supported to start or continue their dream of beginning their own business,” Ewest said.
The audience can engage the panelists in breakout groups from 10:45 a.m. to noon.
The event is co-sponsored by Net Impact, a student organization, and Waverly Area Small Business Incubator and Consulting Center. Both organizations are new to the community and are designed to support entrepreneurship.
Net Impact has more than 280 chapters on six continents, but Wartburg has the only undergraduate affiliation in Iowa. It sponsors job fairs, career placement services and networking opportunities that provide hands-on experience for students
Katie Braun ’12, a business administration major with a social entrepreneurship minor, heads the Wartburg chapter.
“As co-founder of the club, my hope is that Wartburg’s students will access the resources available through Net Impact to continuously better our community,” Braun said. “I also hope they are able to take techniques with them into whatever profession they choose.”
The Waverly Area Small Business Incubator and Consulting Center will be officially launched in fall 2012 to support entrepreneurs and Waverly small businesses.
Ewest, who will serve as acting director, traces his inspiration to the Rev. Wilhelm Löhe, a social entrepreneur and founder of Wartburg College.
Löhe began a venture in Neuendettelsau, Germany, that is still in existence today, employing the handicapped to develop products sold to major German industries.
“This event is not ‘doing something new,’” Ewest said. “Instead, it is embracing our past, affirming that the ‘new’ direction of social entrepreneurship is not only the right direction, but more importantly, is building off the work of Löhe.”