Social Entrepreneurship Global Network Recognizes Bauer College Initiative
The SURE™ (Stimulating Urban Renewal through Entrepreneurship) Program at the University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business is being recognized for sparking accelerated social change around the world through an innovative approach to higher education that benefits both students and aspiring entrepreneurs from under-resourced communities.
SURE™ has been named one of 66 organizations in 14 countries that make up Ashoka U’s #MillionsofChangemakers coalition, showcasing SURE™ ’s commitment to developing next-generation leaders and entrepreneurs whose business ventures elevate individuals, their neighborhoods and the world at large. Ashoka U is the higher education initiative of Ashoka, a global network of social entrepreneurs.
“SURE™ ’s experiential educational model builds a partnership between students, community entrepreneurs, and business experts in order to create economic empowerment,” said Saleha Khumawala, SURE™’s Founding Director and the Robert Grinaker Professor of Accounting at Bauer.
“We are thrilled to join Ashoka U’s global #MillionsofChangemakers campaign,” Khumawala said. “Our commitment is to increase the effectiveness of our local program, as well as to package the lessons of the program so other universities can benefit from this model. Our goal is to train an additional 400 students and entrepreneurs by the end of 2020.”
Since its founding in 2012, SURE™ has educated more than 1,000 current and aspiring Houston area entrepreneurs, trained more than 300 Bauer College students, and been instrumental in the launch or expansion of nearly 300 local businesses.
Graduates have likened the program to “a mini-MBA.” Successful applicants attend 12 free lectures led by experts in their fields, as well as partnering with student consultant/mentors. Entrepreneurs are able to network and learn about things like pitching their business plan and gaining access to capital. But both aspiring entrepreneurs and student consultants and mentors say the program offers much more than that.
“I thought of myself as an entrepreneur, until I took this class and learned I could be doing so much more,” said Bauer student consultant Sharlicia McEachnie (B.A. Finance, ’19).
“Each speaker leaves me with revelations that can improve my life and my business alike. Each assignment takes me out of my comfort zone of imagination, and on to a plane of practicality. It has also been a true pleasure to be consulting with my entrepreneurs. I was afraid of the pressure of having a real-life effect on the lives of others, but that has been the most rewarding aspect.”
Christopher Clark, (MS Finance, ’19), noted that being a SURE™ consultant “operates similar to an internship. As a student consultant, you will learn fundamental business concepts and how to advise a client (the entrepreneur), in advance of meeting them. Once you have completed your ‘training,’ you are introduced to your team of entrepreneurs and must apply what you have learned. There is no textbook that will cover some of the on-the-go challenges you will face as you guide your team. SURE™ provides a real opportunity to work as a consultant and to help people. Your entrepreneurs will look to you for advice and guidance and it is your responsibility to find a potential solution to their problems. There are many professionals that are invited to speak throughout the length of the class, and this provides an opportunity to network.”
The program has a natural alignment with the Ashoka U Changemakers campaign, said Jessica Lax, Ashoka U’s Growth & Partnerships Director.
“All people have the confidence, skills and freedom to create change for the good of all. With this commitment, Bauer College is joining Ashoka U’s global community of higher education innovators who are collectively activating and equipping the changemakers the world needs. We’re thrilled to celebrate this commitment and look forward to sharing it with others through this campaign.”
Bauer College was also recently invited to join the prestigious Global Business School Network, which will serve as yet another conduit for sharing the SURE™ model internationally.
SURE™ is one component of the University of Houston’s Third Ward Initiative, which seeks to build connections between the historically African American community and the university.
Click here for more information about SURE™.
By Julie Bonnin