March 5, 2018
The Social Entrepreneurship in Action course places business students in leadership roles and is an alternative to the traditional business placement requirement for Business Administration, Business Management, and Business Marketing students. This challenging opportunity benefits students who are hard-working, results-oriented, and who blend an aspiration to succeed with a desire to make a positive difference. In this course, students leave the comfort of the classroom and apply their growing knowledge to develop programs that positively impact the lives of people in our communities. Regardless of how our students apply their entrepreneurial spirit to make a positive difference, they develop the kind of teamwork, leadership and communication skills that can only come from real-life experiences. During the recent fall 2017 semester, Professors Jeff Short and Doris Fulton coached students as they organized and managed two projects: Café Wars and Skype for Seniors.
On December 8th, Humber Business Management students hosted 70 high school students studying business at Meadowvale Secondary School, where a total of 10 teams competed in the 3rd Annual Café Wars competition. This year the competition was held at The Centre for Entrepreneurship at Lakeshore Campus. According to Business Management student, Trishona Lindsay-Garvey, she and her teammates, Kevin Soosaipillai and Frank Yukselir, set a goal to "offer youth an event that would promote interest in entrepreneurship, allow the young participants an opportunity to apply what they are learning in their classrooms, and of course, to have fun!"
Café Wars uses an online, small business simulation called BizCafe that allows students to compete in a head-to-head competition with other teams in the same room and experience running a business for nine weeks. In the simulation, students strategize and make business decisions related to the operation of their shop versus those run by competitors (i.e. the other students in the class). Examples of decisions include start-up investments such as the type of furniture and brewing equipment, as well as weekly decisions such as hiring and training employees, hours of operation, coffee bean quality, supplies, advertising, and of course, selling prices. Each period within the simulation represents one week, and the game programming does a great job reporting back the outcomes of the student's decisions relative to their rivals. Feedback includes data such as café overall rank, cups sold, revenue, net income, customer satisfaction, and even details about how happy or stressed employees are.
The competitive setting of Café Wars creates an atmosphere that is exciting and fun and generates a great opportunity to learn about the impact of rivalry, strategy, and the challenge of generating profit, while managing employee and customer satisfaction. However, according to Professor Jeff Short, "Café Wars also offers our students an important opportunity to gain marketable experience; it models the skills and abilities of our graduates, and showcases one of the unique and creative ways The Business School supports learning outside of the classroom."
Business Management students Charanjit Matharu, Susan Marshall, and Jacob Campbell learned that growing numbers of senior citizens experience the negative effects of social isolation. Social isolation among seniors often occurs due to failing health, disabilities, or the death of a spouse that leaves a senior living alone. This problem is further worsened for seniors because of diminishing social opportunities due to the death of close friends, greater transportation challenges, and family who may live in other cities or even overseas. Extended feelings of separation from others have been linked to depression, a greater incidence of dementia, and more rapid deterioration of physical health.
To help address this growing problem, Charanjit, Susan, and Jacob proposed Skype for Seniors. According to team member Susan Marshall: "Our goal is to reduce social isolation among seniors, while also integrating them into our ever-changing technological world." Although the tech-savvy management students immediately understood the potential benefits of Skype, they recognized that their greatest challenges would be identifying isolated seniors who are willing to participate in the project. To address this challenge, the team partnered with the Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre, which is a local non-profit agency that already offers programs in a supportive environment and is recognized as an official Seniors Active Living Centre by the Province of Ontario. Through the centre, the students met a spirited senior named Margaret Bojin, who although had never even previously sent an email, was eager and willing to learn more about Skype.
In working with Margaret, the team developed a "senior-friendly" manual that started with logging onto a computer and included easy instructions such as how to set up a Skype account, as well as how to create contact lists, and make and participate in a Skype call. This step-by-step manual is full of easy-to-understand visuals and was used successfully by Margaret, who surprised her younger sister with an unexpected call, and a friendly chat. The tools that Charanjit, Susan, and Jacob created with Margaret as well as the lessons learned are now an additional resource available through the Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre to engage seniors and other members of the community to sustain positive and healthy relationships with friends and family.
"The Social entrepreneurship course allowed us to apply the knowledge and skills that we gained from my Business Administration program, and to acquire firsthand experience in planning, leading, and organizing to achieve results"- Susan Marshall.