Annual Entrepreneurship Class Donates Money to Help Food Insecure

Students in associate professor Joseph Stasio's Marketing Department entrepreneurship class recently completed an assignment to open, operate and shut down their own businesses with the goal of making money in the process, then donated the $869.22 in profits to offset the cost of Campus Ministry's annual Thanksgiving Dinner for the food insecure in the Lawrence, Massachusetts area.

Stasio has been teaching entrepreneurship for 38 years and gives the assignment to his students every year. Each year there is a different charity to which the profits are donated.

“It’s a great experience,” he said.

Many of his former students have gone on to open their own businesses. “Many of them do very, very well so it’s very gratifying to me,” he said.

The class was divided into seven groups and each one started with $20 seed money and had two weeks to operate their businesses. Teams of juniors and seniors in the class sold cheeseburgers, chocolate chip cookies, bottle openers, chocolate covered popcorn, another cookie sale, and operated a valet service on campus. There are a myriad of issues that must be addressed and overcome when starting a business.

“The point was: When an entrepreneur starts a business this is what they have to contend with,” Stasio said.

Then the students wrote seven- to 10-page papers on their experiences.

“They did a nice job,” Stasio said. “The reports were good.”

The start-up assignment is one of three Stasio assigns during the semester. First, he tells his students to make a new cookie for Nabisco marketed toward the elderly. After the start-up assignment, he assigns them the task of coming up with their own innovation and then writing a business plan.

“I am very happy that the class decided to use the money they earned through their experiments in entrepreneurship to help those in need,” said the Rev. Ray Dlugos, vice president of mission and ministry in the Grace J. Palmisano Center for Campus Ministry. “Having the needs of the least and most vulnerable among us at the heart of all business decisions is exactly what the demands of charity and justice require.”

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