HFLI Supports Student Entrepreneurs from Michigan’s Independent Colleges

Student Entrepreneurs Gain Skills, Exposure on Bringing Ideas to Market via the Independent Innovators Network

Lansing, October 21, 2019 – Students from Michigan Colleges Alliance’s schools have competed to participate in a multi-stage program to develop and launch their entrepreneurial ideas. In the first phase, they developed ideas for new businesses or social entrepreneurial ventures and received scholarships based on the strength of their thinking. In this, the second phase of the Independent Innovators Network, five students received specialized training from Henry Ford Learning Institute on how to evolve those business ideas so that they are more marketable. In the final phase, students will compete for funding to help launch their businesses.

With three years of progressive outcomes, the Independent Innovators Network has become a proven model for student learning on Michigan’s top 14 independent campuses. Many of the ideas generated through the competition potentially hold great promise. However, without “next step” support, moving beyond conceptualization to development and launch is difficult. With that in mind, this year’s program was expanded to include a workshop in design thinking led by Henry Ford Learning Institute.

The students’ entrepreneurial ideas range from healthcare to manufacturing and run the gamut between for-profit and nonprofit ventures. Dr. Robert Bartlett, President of Michigan Colleges Alliance stated, “The Independent Innovators Network is a terrific example of how our private liberal arts colleges and universities are at the forefront of providing students with entrepreneurial education and developing that talent for our local employers.”

The student entrepreneurs are comprised of:

Ubaldo Castillo of Kalamazoo College
Project Title: Holistic Approach to Education
Castillo is determined to improve Michigan’s primary education system via therapy-based tutoring programs that improve youths’ social skills.

Abir Mouhajer from the University of Detroit Mercy
Project Title: Empowering the Marginalized Through E-commerce
Mouhajer will leverage technology and social media to introduce e-commerce activity to Zaman International’s BOOST program. Ultimately this market-based solution will help to reduce poverty.

Shiva Sah from Kalamazoo College
Project Title: Full Belly
Sah proposes a digital platform that allows lower-income families to buy food that is nearing its expiration date at discounted prices from restaurants and grocery stores.

Tsega Tefera of Hope College
Project Title: Safety Charm
Tefera envisions a mobile alarm system that women and girls can wear as a charm on their bracelets.

David Wang from Hope College
Project Title: Honey Batcher
Wang dreams of software that allows professional and hobby photographers to select the photos they’ll use more quickly.

About Michigan Colleges Alliance (MCA)

Founded in 1949, MCA is comprised of 14 leading private four-year colleges and universities, grounded in the liberal arts and sciences tradition. MCA leverages the shared capacity of its members to promote college choice in Michigan, support access to higher education for Michigan families, and develop a 21st-century talent pipeline for Michigan business. Member institutions include Adrian College; Albion College; Alma College; Andrews University; Aquinas College; Calvin University; Hillsdale College; Hope College; Kalamazoo College; Madonna University; Olivet College; Siena Heights University; Spring Arbor University and University of Detroit Mercy. For more information about member campuses or MCA’s collective programs, visit www.michigancolleges.org or www.wearetheindependents.com.

About Henry Ford Learning Institute

Henry Ford Learning Institute (HFLI) is a non-profit organization that is redesigning how we learn and lead. Founded in 2003 by The Henry Ford and Ford Motor Company Fund, HFLI provides workshops, programs, and site coaching that pair effective education and human-centered design approaches, empowering learners to lead transformational change in, with, and for their community. HFLI has directly served thousands of adults and youth in K-20 education, workplace initiatives, and out-of-school programs over the past three years. For more information, visit www.hfli.org, or join us on Facebook @Henry.Ford.Learning.Institute, Twitter @hfli and Instagram @henryfordlearninginstitute.

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