DBU Students Learn How to Help Others Through Business

students standing in a group

This fall, students in Dr. Ross O'Brien's Social Entrepreneurship mini-term course at Dallas Baptist University were introduced to a new side of Dallas and ideas about business practices they had not previously considered.

Dr. O'Brien, Associate Professor of Management, said he designed the course to allow students "to engage in the community around them, to learn about challenges facing people within the community, and to participate in the creation of solutions to address a social problem."

During the week, students visited Buckner International's Community Transformation Center and H.I.S. Bridge Builders. H.I.S. BridgeBuilders is an organization located in Bonton, an area in South Dallas marked by high crime rates and a median income of $9,800 per year. The purpose of the organization is to advance urban transformation through education, health, economic and community development. The class met with staff members from these organizations as well as residents in the communities to discuss community needs and opportunities for business and ministry.

"These business leaders are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change," DBU student Samuel Galicia expressed.

After visiting the two organizations, the students came back to class and created their own business models, implementing creative ways that they could help impact the community.

One group decided to create a business plan for two men they met in Bonton. Cole and Darus will soon be starting their own lawn care business, so the DBU students met with them to gather information about available resources and start-up costs to assist in creating a business plan for them. At the end of the week, three student teams presented their business plans, and Cole and Darus were able to come to class and hear the proposed plan for their new business.

"Many start-ups are motivated by a singular drive to make money, but this was different because Darus and Cole really desire to make a difference in their community," Galicia reflected. "Midway through the process, we realized that this new business can and will change the community. Darus' dedication and love for the community is what will make the business successful."

Others in the class were equally surprised how experiencing such practical application of business principles changed their minds for their future careers. Student Ariel Palacios shared, "this class revolutionized our idea of success. Life is not just about us, but about following God and caring for the needy, the broken, the poor, the weak in spirit. As business majors, we have been given this beautiful opportunity to impact lives through our profession."

After completing the course, student Andi Scarborough noted, "Now, I literally see opportunities for social entrepreneurship everywhere I go."

By the end of the week-long mini-term, the students had created three business models; however, the lasting impressions from the course will go beyond the assignments and continue to impact the lives of the students involved.

Written by Kalie Lowrie

Kalie Lowrie was the former Director of News and Information at Dallas Baptist University.