Johanna Brooks

Johanna has lived overseas in Singapore, Indonesia and Nairobi, Kenya and is a recent graduate of American University in Washington, DC.

Ashoka U Spotlight: ASU Student Perspective

Arizona State University is bursting at the seams with energy for Social Entrepreneurship, and this supportive environment is fostering the development of some very talented young social entrepreneurs!

Zach & Brian’s Social Entrepreneurial Venture

Zach Yentzer, a sophomore at ASU, along with fellow student Brian McCollow (a junior) have co-founded the Consortium for New Global Trade (CNGT), which seeks to connect professors, activists, students, politicians and businesspeople for the purpose of exploring new and better systems of international trade in order to solve the challenges our world faces today.

What makes CNGT different from other platforms of a similar bent? “Our foundational focus is in utilizing innovative and socially entrepreneurial ideas to consider new, better methods of trade,” Zach says.
The inspiration for the Consortium’s first initiative, Project: Redefine Trade, apparently emerged out of a question the president of Thunderbird School of Global Management posed a couple years ago when he broadly asked, “What can global leaders do to create sustainable prosperity worldwide?”

“We wanted to take the same question, broaden it slightly, and address it to students around the world who have the potential to be our young global leaders, and connect them with other, established movers and shakers to brainstorm the ‘big ideas’ that will change our world,” says Zach. “In order to do this, we’re planning an international Web Summit for discussing how to change the dynamic of international trade, utilizing social entrepreneurial principles. The target date for the Summit is the last week of May, 2011, and we already have received support from the UN Program on Youth.”

Current Snapshot of Social Entrepreneurship at ASU

Zach admits that he’s a newcomer to social entrepreneurship, but that since receiving sponsorship from Barrett, The Honors College to attend the 2011 Ashoka U Exchange, he’s hooked. He also credits the ASU President, faculty, and administration for creating an environment that supports Social Entrepreneurship initiatives, including working toward creating a minor in social entrepreneurship.

Michael Crow, the President at ASU, has been a driving force for the adoption of Entrepreneurship Initiatives across the university, and, in doing so, has created a campus community excited and ready to affect change. Set to open in August 2011, ASU’s Changemaker Central will be a student hub for change and innovation on all four of ASU’s campuses. On the Tempe campus, Changemaker Central will be located centrally in the student Memorial Union. Changemaker Central will serve as a brainstorming space and a cultivation area, and will connect students to advisement opportunities to help develop their socially entrepreneurial “big ideas.”

“Having Changemaker Central literally in the middle of the Tempe campus, and mentors who are available for assisting students with big ideas is really valuable. It also helps to bring the field into the mainstream, because a lot of people still don’t know exactly what Social Entrepreneurship is,” Zach states.

Vision for an Ideal Campus

What would he like to see more of on-campus? “There’s already such a wonderful culture of Social Entrepreneurship at ASU, but I’d like to have more opportunities on-campus to talk to and be mentored by actual social entrepreneurs. Talking with some of the Ashoka Fellows at the Exchange was amazing, and it really blew my mind to see what they were doing. It would be incredible if we could do something like that on-campus.”

In addition to calling for more opportunities like Social Entrepreneur in Residence, Zach had other ideas for linking universities and social entrepreneurs, including expanding the forum for connecting university research departments with social entrepreneur practitioners for the purpose of filling the gap in available quantitative data.

“Being a Changemaker is like being an engineer. In the same way that engineers can take what ‘already is’ and develop it into ‘what it has the full potential to be,’ Changemakers and Social Entrepreneurs do the same, but apply it in a socially beneficial context.”

Zach, we couldn’t agree more!