Argosy University, Twin Cities Introduces "Start-Up Challenge" Continuing Education Program
The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota are home to a vibrant immigrant community hailing from countries across the globe. Many of those who have moved into the area left behind professional lives and now face the challenge of adapting to a new culture. Some want to open their own business but the path is sometimes blocked by lack of access to business know-how. To address this issue, beginning in Spring 2016 Argosy University, Twin Cities established "The Start-Up Challenge" continuing education program, a non-credit, open enrollment series offered through the school’s College of Business.
Participants only needed an idea for a business and a desire to learn the basics to start the program. Under the leadership of Argosy University, Twin Cities instructor Dr. George Dierberger, nine students from Nigeria, Cameroon, and Laos began their studies. Their business goals included starting restaurants, trucking companies, and nonprofit group homes. Over an eight week time period, they covered topics including vision and mission statements, marketing, finance, strategy, social media, and management.
Students were then partnered with experienced Twin Cities-based businesspeople who shared their own stories and helped the students to finalize their business plans. This interaction was both informative and inspiring to the students, who explained that they were encouraged by the mentors’ advice.
"The Start-Up Challenge" was created after hearing feedback from students who believed that the immigrant population needed assistance to better connect with the community. For many in these groups, financial concerns, lack of degrees or transcripts, and sometimes time, was putting education out of reach. Ellie Larson, adjunct instructor, served as a mentor in the "Start-Up Challenge," said that the program made it clear that while many people aspire to start their own business, they are not aware of the processes and pre-planning needed to make it happen.
"We all have a responsibility to make sure everyone is included in all aspects of our community,"adds Dr. Karen Gulliver, Director of the College of Business, Argosy University, Twin Cities. "Demystifying business builds social capacity and improves the sustainability of Minnesota".
"The Start-Up Challenge" concluded with the students' final presentations before a panel of evaluators. They received feedback and assistance in finding community-based resources to continue on their entrepreneurship journey.
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