Everybody has had dreams. Some of the dream ideas have the potential to be developed into successful enterprise concepts (for commercial enterprises or non-profit organizations), if we know how to proceed to prepare for success and failure. Unfortunately sometimes a dream idea can also become a nightmare for people who do not have adequate skills and knowledge to capitalize on opportunities. Being an entrepreneur does not imply one must own a business. Those who have dreamed about being their own boss one day, always wonder what it would be like to actually start and run their own business. Dollar Enterprise, an integrated and unique activity offered by the Department of Community Development and Applied Economics through a course “Introduction to Community Entrepreneurship” provides a perfect opportunity for young entrepreneurs to gain firsthand experiences about new venture creation and community development. The purpose of this course is to help students learn more about how and why people become entrepreneurial, how successful entrepreneurs make decisions, why entrepreneurs fail, career ideas, and existing situations in our society related to entrepreneurial issues by engaging in reading, writing, discussion, and activities. The teaching team includes the instructor, guest speakers, and library support staff and hopes to bring a broader understanding of entrepreneurship and relationship between entrepreneurship and community development into every learner’s heart and daily life in a safe, comfortable, and interactive learning environment. The Theory of Community Entrepreneurship has been created and introduced to Dollar Enterprise. Community Entrepreneurship is a process of transformation – individuals, enterprises, and communities. The major difference between Community Entrepreneurship and general Entrepreneurship lies in the sense of “community involvement and transformation of the community.” Community Entrepreneurship focuses on community building and capacity improvement, by strengthening the root of entrepreneurship in each community. Each community has its own characteristics and culture. Some communities are in rural areas where small family businesses are the norm of the culture, and most of the residents know each other for generations. Other communities locate in large metropolitan areas where advanced technology companies and higher income residents dominate. Entrepreneurs interact with different communities in many ways – creating new jobs, supporting existing jobs, improving income and employment situations, stimulating organizational collaborations, and encouraging innovation and creativity in general. Community Entrepreneurship represents the links between entrepreneurs, organizations, and people given the constraints of resources and opportunities. In general, Entrepreneurship represents the process of transforming limited resource to value added goods and services by seeking and/or creating new opportunities in the market or/and in an institution. Entrepreneurship exists everywhere and can happen at any time. Creating a business is only one dimension of interpreting Entrepreneurship. People can be entrepreneurial with or without creating/owing businesses. Entrepreneurial individuals often are willing to explore the potential of generating goods, services, and knowledge for others. These individuals are also willing to take actions considering opportunities and resource constraints. The Dollar Enterprise activity was created, managed, operated, and monitored by the instructor, who also supplied the seed money ($1 to each individual and $11 to $12 per team) for each new venture team. Dollar Enterprise simulates a formation of any business in the real world from teamwork, generating resources, creating coalitions, and building community partners, to dealing with day-to-day operations, assessment, optimization, and time management. This activity runs twice a year in each semester with 120 to 140 students in each semester who form 11 to 14 teams. It takes one month to prepare for all paperwork and business details. Each team runs their business for 4 weeks (at least 3 hours every day from Monday through Friday, between 8am to 5pm) during the semester in various pre-reserved locations on campus only. Each team goes through the same process that any entrepreneur would in creating a new venture—brainstorm ideas, team building, organize business structure, assign workload to employees, gather resources (money and materials), plan business procedures, design and create products or services, conduct market research, define target market and advertising strategies, conduct financial analysis, and assess daily operations. The objectives of the Dollar Enterprise are to learn how to become a successful entrepreneur, what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur, teamwork, business planning, challenges and success of being an entrepreneur, risks and regulatory issues. Each business meets certain requirements such as supporting organic and fair trade products. Each team needs to apply and gain permission from various UVM organizations before starting the businesses. It takes one month to prepare all paperwork and business details. Weekly team reports and team member’s assessments are completed and returned to the instructor at the end of each week during the operation period. At the end of the 4-week business activity, each team concludes with a business report, financial report, self assessment, and final team member assessment. Each team donates all proceeds to local charities and a Community Entrepreneurship Education fund that has been established to assist future students who are interested in becoming successful Community Entrepreneurs. Results of Dollar Enterprise have supported learning outcomes. Over 1000 undergraduate students in more than 32 majors (2/3 female and 1/3 male) had participated in this course activity. Most students participated in their Sophomore and Junior years. Since Spring 2005, Dollar Enterprise has worked with many Vermont organizations such as Sodexho Campus Dining Services at UVM, Shelburne Orchard, Champlain Orchard, Cheese Trader, City Market of Burlington, Miguel’s Stowe Away restaurant, Hannaford Supermarkets, and Klinger Bread. These community partners generously donated or offered discounts to students who needed materials for their products. To date, Dollar Enterprise has generated more than $3,000 for the Entrepreneurship Education fund. Total donations to charities exceeded $27,000 in six years and had been delivered to many organizations such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Humane Society, American Red Cross, Food Shelf, Youth and Family Centers, Women Crisis Centers, and Northeast Organic Farming Association. The ultimate goal of Dollar Enterprise is to generate sufficient funds and support the creation of more innovative mini new ventures that would (1) utilize minimum resources to generate maximum impacts and outputs; and (2) lead students to learn entrepreneurship that combines business knowledge, critical thinking skills, sustainability, social responsibility, and community development strategies.


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