George Mason University

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Women in a shop

Mason MBA students speak with micro­entrepreneurs in the Philippines. Photo courtesy of Karen Kitching.

Business Majors Help Micro­entrepreneurs in the Philippines

“A global residency experience unlike any offered before at Mason” seems to be the common theme among George Mason University master of business administration students who spent a week in the Philippines combining business acumen and community service.

Students worked with a variety of small business owners taking part in a local microfinance program to train them in areas of process improvement and operations management. The goal is to educate micro­entrepreneurs, or owners of small businesses with fewer than five employees, to help them expand their businesses, earn more, send their children to school, improve their living conditions and make an impact on their community by creating new jobs.

The months leading up to the residency were busy for the MBA students, who studied microfinancing, Filipino culture and training materials for 14 specialized modules. The students spent time with the micro­entrepreneurs in their places of business to gain a firsthand perspective as to how the micro­entrepreneurs conduct finances and build community. In addition to the group training sessions, students also conducted one­-on-­one consulting sessions with the micro­entrepreneurs.

I felt that one-­on-­one mentoring was a very effective part of the training program. I got the chance to mentor Nimpha, who owns two retail shoe stores in a mall and wanted to expand her business in setting up a third shoe store in a nearby mall. I also met Premo, who owns a Sari Sari store with a baker shop attached to it. In my mentoring with them, I emphasized branding their products and identifying and reaching out to their potential customers.

Satish Duvvur, MBA Student and Residency Participant