University of Detroit Mercy Launches Center for Social Entrepreneurship


Later this month, the College of Business Administration at the University of Detroit Mercy, will formally launch its Center for Social Entrepreneurship. The program offers metro Detroit businesses in “the blueprint stage” access to further education in specific disciplines such as marketing, accounting, or IT.

“We’ve been operating the center in-house to make sure it works, and with the support of alumni and private donors (no school funds are used), we will be formally launching the Center for Social Entrepreneurship with a grand opening during our centennial celebration (on Oct. 28),” says Joseph G. Eisenhauer, dean of the College of Business Administration that began offering classes 100 years ago at the institution’s downtown campus, which got its start in 1877.

Among the businesses working with the center via its “Boost” sessions, which partners with entrepreneurs who are actively working to launch an enterprise, include a bakery, a real estate office, a barber college, an art gallery, as well as a horse farm and riding stables called Detroit Horse Power.

David Silver, a former elementary school teacher, founded the latter organization, which operates as a nonprofit. The enterprise currently provides at-risk youth with training that includes how to ride and care for horses. The goal is to build a horse farm on vacant land in Detroit to manage boarding and equestrian events.

“We didn’t want to recite our history and call it a good century, rather we wanted to look at the century ahead and develop programs that benefit society as a whole, and certainly Detroit Horse Power exemplifies that spirit,” says Eisenhauer.

Under the entrepreneurial program, applications are open to anyone who is actively working to open a business or an organization. “It can’t be an idea you have to open a business, you must be actively working at it,” Eisenhauer says.

Once an applicant’s needs are assessed — whether it’s finance, human resources, or marketing — the university, via the Boost program, pairs them with local industry experts and a team of experienced facilitators at the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, Calif.

“You don’t have to be a graduate of the University of Detroit Mercy to participate,” says Eisenhauer. “We also offer a pitch competition at the end of Boost which the participants can use to approach venture capital firms, for example, in raising investments to support their business or organization.

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