Students in the George Washington University School of Business First Year Development Program kicked off the semester with the “Social Entrepreneurship Colloquium,” featuring a panel discussion with Gallup CEO Jim Clifton on Wednesday.
The event, held in Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre, offered university students an opportunity to learn about Lemonade Day D.C., a city-wide initiative organized by junior Emily Massel and GW, with the support of Gallup Inc., PNC Financial Services Inc. and other sponsors.
Lemonade Day D.C. will take place on April 5.
“I thought to myself, ‘What better place for innovative education and opportunities for entrepreneurial development than a couple of blocks away from my dorm room in West End,’” Ms. Massel said. “From there this vision was born.”
D.C. is one of 36 U.S. cities with volunteer programs inspired by the national Lemonade Day organization. Lemonade Day D.C. places GW students in middle and elementary schools to mentor children and help them build a business strategy for a working lemonade stand.
The program trained more than 600 student-mentors to engage with 800 mentees from all eight wards of D.C. during the spring semester 2013, culminating with the inaugural Lemonade Day D.C. in April.
According to Ms. Massel, the goal of Lemonade Day D.C. is to engage students in social entrepreneurship, an approach to business that emphasizes the “double bottom line,” prioritizing contributions to a social cause equally with profit.
It is also an opportunity to encourage youth to understand the revitalizing effects of entrepreneurship on underserved communities, she said.
Mr. Clifton championed the efforts of GW and Ms. Massel in providing opportunities for youth to engage in entrepreneurship activities.
“When you reach these students early, you’ll light them up and start a fire, right then,” he said.
Sophomore Bryan Brindley, who participated as a mentor in the program during his freshman year, said the experience was eye opening for GW students as well.
“There was another GW student in my class who was quiet, and you could really see how when he got into the classroom, he lit up and fed off of the other students,“ he said.
Alumnus Rory Silver, B.A. ’12, a special education teacher at West Education Campus said he became involved because Lemonade Day D.C. offered a needed experiential education component to his classroom learning.
“There weren’t a lot of opportunities to engage students in this way,” Mr. Silver said. “It was powerful for students to be a part of something tangible that connected what they learned in the classroom with their lives.”
Mr. Clifton added that Lemonade Day D.C. is also an exercise in teaching youth about economic stimulus. The U.S. economy’s tremendous growth in previous decades, often attributed to innovation, was the product of entrepreneurial spirit, he said.
“The most American thing you can do is create good jobs,” Mr. Clifton said. “And the best effect social entrepreneurship can have is to create economic energy.”
GWSB Professor of Management Ayman El Tarabishy agreed, adding that because entrepreneurship is solution oriented, GW students are uniquely prepared to use social entrepreneurship to find solutions to the world’s problems.
“The challenge that GW proposes as a part of your learning is to leverage the knowledge you are acquiring, build more allies, collaborate together to offer solutions to U.S. domestic problems and believe in the ‘American dream’ by doing well and doing good,” Dr. El Tarabishy said.