We traveled 5,000 miles and could not be farther from home.
Away from friends and family and everything familiar.
But we were all where we needed to be for that moment in time,
And we could not be closer to changing the world.
We started as students. Adventurous ones at that, but still students; ranging from freshmen to upper graduates. All with hopes of traveling, learning, and making a difference. Over six short weeks, our teams of hodgepodge students from all over the world grew together to become professional consultants and mentors who inspired brilliant entrepreneurs. We guided and helped build the foundation for them to better their businesses and set them up for success.
Thirty students from the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Florida joined our peers from the University of Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa. Now consultants, we were matched with township-based entrepreneurs in the early stages of building their businesses. Working with low-income entrepreneurs, we were pushed to think creatively to solve unique problems. Carefully, we analyzed the companies and came up with tangible solutions (or deliverables) to improve business aspects, including customer acquisition, marketing, customer relations, sales, accounting, inventory management, employee contracts, and organization. We also helped our clients prioritize aspects of their business that deliver the greatest return on their time and energy. Classes were taught by passionate professors from across the United States every weekday morning and provided knowledge and insights on how to become better consultants. We watched ourselves and our friends work harder than we ever thought possible. But when you care so deeply about what you are doing and who you are doing it for, it makes it worth it.
By far, the most memorable part of this adventure was getting to know the South African students and our clients. Their stories are inspiring, and we could not have made the difference we did without their aid in translating the languages and culture. They showed us cool places, introduced us to interesting foods, and were our most trusted guides. The friends we made there were one of the most exciting parts of the adventure.
Entrepreneurship and Empowerment in South Africa was not all hard work. Many times we were able to enjoy the beautiful waterfront and all-day weekend adventures. We scaled the side of Table Mountain, visited penguins, had a 4th of July BBQ celebration, went wine tasting, and enjoyed many of the wonderful places Cape Town has to offer. If you are ready to change your life and make a difference, this program is for you. After weeks of hard work and dedication, this is what I wrote in my journal….
July 22 - Day 42 - Final Day
Not sure where to even begin. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I changed lives. I learned about myself. Realized I’m okay with being alone sometimes. Met extraordinary people. Had beautiful times. Saw beautiful things. Was inspired deeply. Mostly by our wonderful professors but also by my peers and clients. Saw things and places I will never forget. Learned about caring for myself but also how to lean on others. Without a doubt longest and shortest 6 weeks I’ll ever experience. I'm glad I came and met these people in this place in time. I'm glad I came. I'm glad I inspired as much as I was inspired. I thank the universe for this experience.
If you are ready for your next great adventure, apply to be part of 2023 Entrepreneurship and Empowerment in South Africa.