SEC 2013

Event organisers, Elizabeth Mahan and Zahra Ali of the University of Connecticut, give an overview of the second SEC programme.

From 24 June-21 July 2013, 15 students from 10 Universitas 21 institutions participated in the second U21 Social Entrepreneurship Corps (SEC) programme in Guatemala. After a four-week pre-departure virtual global classroom programme, that introduced the concept and practice of social entrepreneurship and Guatemalan history and culture, students from the Universities of Connecticut, Hong Kong, Dublin, Auckland, New South Wales, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Queensland, Melbourne and Singapore arrived in Guatemala to work with SEC field professionals and social entrepreneurs, to help establish new, and grow existing, micro-consignment supported businesses.

The students worked on projects ranging from promotion of Rocket Stoves (fuel efficient stoves that reduce the amount of time women spend collecting wood) and table-top water filters, to education programmes focusing on nutritional information, sanitary cooking habits, and efficient cooking techniques using the Rocket Stove and locally-sourced ingredients. The students also provided information about ‘Soluciones Comunitarias’, the Guatemalan-owned social enterprise through which health-related goods and services are delivered to remote villages via a sustainable micro-consignment programme. The programme helps the villagers, primarily women, develop entrepreneurship skills as a means to promote the well-being of their families and communities.

The comments of University of Auckland student Nicola Carroll sum up the scope and impact of the SEC programme:

“Participating in the U21 Social Entrepreneur Corps was an incredible and unforgettable experience. I never thought it possible to accomplish and learn so much in just one month. Along with a group of 13 other students from around the world I got the chance to assist local female entrepreneurs with their micro-consignment campaigns, plan and host nutritional seminars for a governmental organisation which provides education for illiterate women, deliver consulting advice to a local social entrepreneur on his range of community ventures, and even attend a conference which focused on how rural Guatemalan communities were adapting to climate change! Our programme leaders supported us while also allowing us to be autonomous, and as a result I was able to develop skills such as teamwork, leadership, adaptability and problem solving. I would recommend the U21 Social Entrepreneur Corps to all students regardless of their study background, in particular those with an interest in learning more about social development, alternative business models, environmental sustainability or cultural diversity.”

Planning is underway for the 2014 U21 SEC program in Guatemala. Once again, after completing an online introduction to Guatemala and social entrepreneurship, students will spend several weeks working with indigenous entrepreneurs in the highlands of Guatemala.

Elizabeth Mahan
Executive Director
Office of Global Affairs

Zahra Ali
Communications & Global Partnerships Coordinator
Office of Global Affairs

University of Connecticut