Student organization hosts social entrepreneurship workshops

Logan Love

The Collegiate Association of Unreasonable Social Entrepreneurs (CAUSE) hosted four workshops at its inaugural Social Impact Summit on Friday.

The event focused on social entrepreneurship, said senior finance major Kyle Lundin.

Lundin was in attendance and talked about the draw of social entrepreneurship.

“It’s a really innovative and different way to think about business,” Lundin said. “One of the speakers [said] you can have a successful business and still have a mission, and [about] how business is shaping that way. That was something I’ve never really thought of, and it’s cool to see these forefront thinkers paving the way and connecting for-profit business with helping other people and having a mission.”

The event’s two keynote speakers were Megan Kashner, founder and CEO of Benevolent.net, and Chuck Templeton, managing director of Impact Engine.

Templeton was an Army ranger who founded a Impact Engine and now serves as its managing director. It takes for-profit social enterprises and helps build them up in exchange for a stake in the company.

Alumnus Alan Hurt, founder of Light Up Africa, presented “Out of Dark, Into Light.” Hurt founded Light Up Africa during a social venture project as a student. The organization aims to end light poverty in Africa, Fiegel said.

Brian Mulder, senior operations management and information systems major, wanted to attend the event to learn more about social entrepreneurship. As an employee of the Barsema Alumni Center he had to work the event, but he was taking notes.

“[Social entrepreneurship] involves making a difference in society using the business model; that’s what drew my attention to it,” Mulder said. “Seeing all these different businesses that are starting up, they’re starting up with the intentions of actually changing the world. They want to make the world a better place for everybody, not just themselves.”

Zach Fiegel, CAUSE president and junior marketing major, explained what CAUSE means.

“The unreasonable portion comes from, if you take Dennis Barsema’s class on social entrepreneurship, there’s a quote in the book that we use: ‘The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man adapts the world to him,’” Fiegel said. “So any progress or any change in the world is dependent on the unreasonable person.”

The group brought local social entrepreneurs in for the event, and students from other universities were in attendance, Fiegel said. CAUSE was officially recognized by the Student Association last spring, Fiegel said. Starting the fall semester with no money and new student leadership, the group focused on social entrepreneurship and sought to educate students by planning the Social Impact Summit, Fiegel said.

Lundin said the nature of business typically overshadows any humanitarian goals, but that it’s encouraging to see change.

“Were seeing this big diversion between the lower class and the higher class, you’re seeing this big money split,” Lundin said. “Mr. Barsema said it pretty well: If you can just reach down…or reach out and positively impact one person and kind of pull them up, we actually have the power to change the world.”

CAUSE’s weekly meetings are open to all students and begin at 5 p.m. Tuesdays in Barsema Hall, Room 227.

For more information about NIU CAUSE, visit www.niucause.com.