SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Business

April 16, 2014

Making money with a social mission

WENHAM — At a Christian liberal arts college, entrepreneurship is not usually a focus. Students motivated to be agents of change may not want to learn how to make money, says Carter Crockett of Gordon College.

But Crockett thinks they can do both. And as inaugural director of the college’s new Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, he hopes to show them how.

Crockett knows what it means to make money and help change the world. He has worked in marketing for Microsoft in Seattle (he says he helped write the text on the packaging of Windows 2000) and for Pura Vida Coffee, a coffee and tea company with a social component.

Before coming to Gordon College this summer, he worked as a business consultant and co-founder of the for-profit Karisimbi Business Partners, a management consulting firm in Rwanda that aims to help small to mid-sized businesses in East Africa. When he left after four years, the firm was making a profit.

He’s also a former associate professor of economics and business at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Calif., his alma mater, a Christian liberal arts college similar to Gordon.

Last summer, Gordon College President D. Michael Lindsay tapped him to run the new Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.

The center, located in a first-floor office of the nondescript Emery Building in the heart of the campus, has come up with the college’s first Social Venture Challenge.

Think of it as a business plan competition with a social mission. Participants can be agents of change, but they also have to think about how they can make money to sustain the business or nonprofit.

When Crockett announced the competition, he was not sure how many students might show up.

About 100 students across 20 majors did. About 30 percent were business and economics majors, and the rest came from a variety of other majors. So far, 32 teams have been whittled down to eight finalists who will compete on April 23 for a total of $10,000 in prize money — a $5,000 top prize, a $3,000 second prize and a $2,000 third prize.

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