The objective of the Entrepreneurship & Service Practicum (ESP) experience is to begin to break down the “silo mentality” that is present in traditional approaches to business education and help students develop a more cross-disciplinary view of business. The ESP also provides a laboratory for application of the learning that occurs in the pre/co-requisite courses of Management, Marketing and Accounting. The 3 credit hours earned for this experience will count as academic credit toward graduation as well as satisfying 3 hours of Applied Learning credit.
While participating in the ESP, students will form their own company, write a business plan, obtain a loan, implement their plan, make a profit and close down operations all within one semesters’ time. While running their company, they choose a local nonprofit organization to provide a minimum of ten hours of volunteer work per student and their profits at the end of the semester.
The loan committee will be comprised of bank loan officers from Warsaw institutions as well as local entrepreneurs. While the decision to grant the loan along with the terms and conditions is up to the loan committee, the actual money to be loaned to the student company will come from the Entrepreneurship Education and Encouragement Fund administered by the Grace College School of Business.
Once the loan and all related fees and interest have been paid back to the Business School, the profit from the student company, minus overhead charges and taxes, will go to the nonprofit they have been serving all semester.
The result is real world experience in the creation and operation of a truly student run micro-business. This effort will be something that goes onto the students resume and will greatly assist in obtaining internships while in school as well as full time jobs after graduation. Employers are increasingly expecting practical application of the theory learned in the classroom and the ESP provides that opportunity. It also allows the student to “try out” their major and begin to hone their skills and abilities as they progress through their academic program.