Campus: Sonoma State University -- August 15, 2003

"Practical Entrepreneurs With Noble Mission" Starts As New Initiative At SSU For Bosnia, Middle East

Sonoma State University is taking the first step in the development of a Social Entrepreneurship initiative that will focus on job creation and small business enterprise in troubled areas across the globe.

Called "Practical Entrepreneurs With a Noble Mission," the 12-week course starts in mid-September and will focus on the shared experiences of scholars, representatives from social foundations, and the U.S. and foreign diplomatic corps in Bosnia, the Middle East and northern Israel.

Thanks to an initial donation of funds by Sonoma County resident Claude Ganz, a former Clinton special envoy to Bosnia who oversaw the development of a private sector economy there, the course opens up the diverse world of social entrepreneurship whose "double bottomline" philosophy values the social as well as financial impact of a business enterprise.

Ganz is spearheading development with the University administration of his vision for an Initiative for Social Entrepreneurship which will consist of an array of University-level courses that offers students the extraordinary opportunity to merge humanitarian impulses with business savvy.

"Most businesses try to maximize profits and create wealth while acting in socially responsible ways," says Ganz. "Social Entrepreneurship's objective is to provide social contributions while making a profit to sustain its efforts."

It's key objective, he says, is to encourage small business growth and job creation in areas of the world where political unrest and social conflict are the root causes of chronic high unemployment and economic instability.

Ganz says gainfully employed individuals are less likely to participate in civil unrest or acts of corruption, and that economic development is generally a precondition of governmental stability.

Ganz says his experience in Bosnia clearly demonstrated the need for the development of small and medium enterprises as the most expeditious and least capital intensive method to create employment opportunities through mentoring and quick access to financing.

Ganz says international humanitarian aid programs create dependency within the troubled population even though they are badly needed. Sustainable grass roots economic development should work hand in hand with these programs, he says.

Part of Ganz's vision is an ongoing series of seminars at SSU in combination with telecommunications hookup with students at universities in Sarajevo and Israel as well as student and faculty exchange programs with universities in those regions.

The Initiative will educate students to conduct business activities in troubled areas to foster social and economic progress, assist in creating jobs in economically distressed areas and create a methodology and procedures on how to apply the social entrepreneurship experience to other regions with similar needs such as Mexico, Brazil, China, Vietnam and Indonesia and Iraq.

The September course is particularly suited to those who like to mentor businesses or who have been in government agencies, says director Rob Colman. "It's learning how to create jobs to sustain peace."

Besides the particular scenarios posed by the problems in the Middle East and Bosnia, the course will also look at the nature of Social Entrepreneurship, identifying attractive opportunities, practical screening criteria, funding strategies, startup and management issues and building alliances.

The class will be taught by SSU business professors Rob Colman and Robert Girling on Wednesdays, beginning Sept. 17 from 7-9 p.m. on campus. Cost is $120. Registration is through the School of Extended Education, (707) 664-4170, or on the web at www.sonoma.edu/exed.

For further information, contact Professor Rob Colman, (707) 664-2393.

Media contact: Jean Wasp, Media Relations, (707) 664-2057


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