GCSEN – The Foundation Where Social Entrepreneurs Make It Happen

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At The Forefront of Formulation:
GCSEN – The Foundation Where Social Entrepreneurs Make It Happen
By: Luke O’Neill, GCSEN Storyteller


Zara shares her personal story using poetry at the 2018 Meaning Makers Boot Camp

Most entrepreneurs who come to GCSEN find themselves in the formulation stage of their business. They have an idea, usually, around an issue, they want to solve in the world, and they want to know how they can make it happen while also trying to make meaning, make money and move the world to a better place. GCSEN Meaning Maker Bootcamp provides “pracademic” insights and coaching which enable graduates to take their idea from the formulation stage to market entry.

Without the engagement of the younger generations in entrepreneurial education entrepreneurship among millennials could continue to stagnate. Business formulation for those in their 20’s is at a 25-year low, while 75% of the workforce will be comprised of millennials by 2025. According to the Federal Reserve of NY/Atlanta, 44% of 2014 college graduates are working in jobs not matched with or requiring a college degree. Because of this, it is imperative that we not only inspire Millennials but also equip them on how to formulate businesses so that they can adapt to the market as they begin to constitute the majority of it.

“They really taught me about business in a way I’ve never learned before. Since then, I am very confident to say that I am an entrepreneur” – Zara

In January 2018, Zara Salmon, a senior at Wheaton College (Norton, MA), began the Meaning Maker Bootcamp with an idea to provide affordable and accessible plant-based meal options for those of any socio-economic status through a plant-based café called Café Nefertiti. In spite of her English and Political Science focus at school and background, Zara understood innately the value of entrepreneurial education in creating a positive social impact she aimed to make. Zara learned about the GCSEN boot camp via Wheaton College’s Social Entrepreneurship Launch Program, she decided to participate because she knew she would gain access to mentorship from leading industry professionals and the necessary knowledge to create her own social enterprise. Upon completion of the weeklong GCSEN Meaning Makers Boot Camp, Zara began identifying as an entrepreneur; she now feels equipped to launch her social venture. In March 2018, Zara went on to earn 2nd place in the campus-wide pitch competition! Now a Wheaton Alum, Zara serves as the Communications and Marketing Coordinator at the Brown University Social Entrepreneur Greenhouse in Providence, Rhode Island.

Nate Chretien-Mansur participated in the 2017 Meaning Maker Bootcamp, his idea was a social media-based app that would allow college students to connect outside of their college bubbles. The app would be designed to encourage students to meet new people and improve their social skills. After finishing the Bootcamp, Nate reported increased confidence in public speaking and has developed the skills necessary to develop and implement actionable project goals and timelines. Nate believes in helping support entrepreneurial education by providing coaching at the Wheaton campus WINHUB Social Entrepreneurship Launchpad because “everyone is there to succeed and we’re all in this together.” The effort, he believes, is as simple as discussing entrepreneurship with friends and encouraging them to formulate their own ideas.

His experience at GCSEN pushed him to take the opportunity to work on his original app idea of a ride sharing app. During a trip to visit family in Pakistan, he had the chance to head a software design team specifically creating his app. He took his confidence gained from the Bootcamp and channeled it into the leadership that was required of him to organize the team around the creative process. While working on the app he noticed that there were ideas that could be greater served by his opportunity and after that trip, he realized that helping students socialize would be a much deeper, more meaningful purpose and so he pivoted as GCSEN taught him. That is how the formulation stage works.

Nate and Zara represent people at the beginning of the social entrepreneur journey. With the support and practical tools created and shared by GCSEN, students expand their entrepreneurial network and gain the knowledge and experience to turn their social impact venture ideas into reality. Zara continues to develop her business concept at local farmer’s markets in Providence as she works for the Social Enterprise Greenhouse. Nate will use his next few semesters to continuing to test his app on a college campus gaining valuable market feedback. GCSEN is here to support our graduates as they continue to work on their dreams to make money, make meaning, and move the world to a better place.