Penn State Great Valley Students Help Local Entrepreneurs Navigate Pandemic

Ken Knickerbocker
By
Image via Penn State Great Valley.

As countless small businesses have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, a class of Penn State Great Valley students spent the spring II term helping four local entrepreneurs expand their company or organization.

Social Entrepreneurship and Community Leadership, the capstone course for Penn State Great Valley’s Master of Leadership Development degree, has students split into teams to work with a small business to develop marketing plans, social media guides, infomercials, and more.

The service-learning course, taught by Cyndy Walton, assistant teaching professor of management, uses entrepreneurial skills to craft innovative responses to social needs, applying business leadership and entrepreneurship principles to organizations whose products and services create social value.

The course shifting to remote learning presented challenges; some businesses weren’t comfortable or faced a steep learning curve with completely online communication. Each of the four businesses with whom the students worked — the African Education Program, Chester County Wildlife Foundation, Heavenly Sweet Chocolates, and Jessie’s House — relied on in-person interactions to at least some extent, forcing the businesses and student teams to rapidly adapt and rethink how to generate revenue.

“Our students are bright people, so they’re able to adapt quickly,” Walton said. “They’ve been doing a lot of hard work, and I am very proud of them. Also, I think that working with local social entrepreneurs is uplifting, and at this time, we could use all the uplifting we can get.”

Click here to learn more about the Penn State Great Valley students’ work with local businesses.

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