How do Loyola University business students learn essential business development practices, engage Chicago’s communities, and support the development of an emerging entrepreneur? MGMT 335/435, taught by Professor Mike Welch, continues the legacy of Dr. Jill Graham in the Quinlan School of Business by having students support emerging entrepreneurs in Chicago. MicroEnterprise Consulting aims to have students develop a business plan for emerging entrepreneurs on the city’s south and west sides.
Professor Welch works with community partners in order to identify 5-6 budding business people for each semester. For example, Bethel New Life, a community development corporation on Chicago’s west side, provides introductory business classes then refers enterprising individuals to Mike for consulting services. These business consulting opportunities form the foundation of the course. Teams of students work with an individual intent upon starting a small business enterprise in order to prepare a full business plan for that individual.
The goals of the class are to:
Apply principles learned in business school in a meaningful way to real-life projects that assist members of the community.
Prepare a full written business plan for a client who wants to start a business in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood in Chicago.
Better understand the dynamics and the processes of the consulting relationship.
Better understand all that it takes to start a new business in Chicago.
During the Spring 2014 course, prospective businesses included a hair care salon, a home health care service, a deconstruction and repurposing business, a business that provides housing and employment opportunities for exonerees, and a restaurant. All of the entrepreneurs had some experience in the field but had not yet established their own business. Loyola University graduate and undergraduate business students worked with them throughout the semester to develop a business plan to help them get started. On Saturday, April 26, 2014, Loyola students, their clients and their families, parents, and Loyola faculty gathered for final presentations. Their presentations revealed the depth of engagement of our students and the strength of relationships they had developed with Chicago’s emerging business people.
Remarkably, each of the five business plans had a distinct social justice component. The deconstruction and repurposing business, for example, proposes to reuse building materials that would ordinarily end up in our city dumps. Building owners get a tax incentive to donate to the business, which will partner with a non-profit organization, and individuals interested in home improvement projects access repurposed materials at 20% of the cost.
Mike credits Dr. Graham with the conceptualization and early development of the course, but his years at Quaker Oats as Vice President of Legal Services, including significant time in strategic planning, gives him considerable insight and expertise into practical business development issues.
What do students say about the class?
It was a lot of work, but it was all worth it when we presented the final business plan to our client, who was so grateful to receive it.
I learned how difficult it is to launch a new business, and how it is even harder in an economically distressed part of Chicago. I really admire my client for being willing to start a business in a relatively tough environment.
This course provided me with a great opportunity to put what I had learned to use in a real-life setting working with someone who really wanted to start her own business. To be able to help someone at the same time in the process was very rewarding.
I really wanted to learn more about entrepreneurship and consulting during this course, but also learned a lot about myself as the result of my interactions with my team members and our client.
At the closing presentations, Professor Welch applauded the students who represented through their work what Loyola University hopes from its students - a commitment to social justice and the intent to engage the world in meaningful ways toward the common good as they begin their careers.