The Entrepreneurial Adventure of a Lifetime
Entrepreneurship and Empowerment in South Africa (EESA) is a life-changing experience that enables students to help historically disadvantaged entrepreneurs in the townships around Cape Town, South Africa. Coached by four faculty members, American students work with South African students on consulting teams, assisting small businesses over a six-week period to help make their ventures sustainable. Ventures range from catering and arts & crafts businesses to community newspapers and small construction companies.
This program is for highly motivated students who want to be agents of change. It is open to upper-level undergraduate and graduate students regardless of their field of study—those studying sociology, engineering, information studies, architecture, economics, political science, government, social work, and other fields are welcome to apply. Key requirements include a strong work ethic, emotional maturity, creative problem-solving abilities, and a desire to make a difference.
After being grouped into consulting teams, students work with two small businesses over six weeks to help make the ventures sustainable. They work closely with local entrepreneurs who have managed to overcome a history of apartheid, limited education, and severely constrained resources to create small enterprises. These entrepreneurs have real passion, but struggle to survive.
Student consulting teams are expected to identify and prioritize entrepreneurs’ key needs and make meaningful progress in addressing some of their priorities. The focus is less on analysis and more on producing tangible deliverables that the entrepreneur can use. Students develop marketing and financial plans, create bookkeeping systems, improve operations, renegotiate contracts, and much more. While gaining practical experiences, students perform an important service.
EESA is a partnership between the University of Notre Dame, the University of Florida, Oklahoma State University, the University of Colorado, Texas A&M University, and the University of the Western Cape, which hosts the program. EESA is administered by the University of Notre Dame’s McKenna Center for Human Development and Global Business, part of the Keough School of Global Affairs.