COLLEGE DIRECTORY       :      VISIT ELLER      :      LOG IN 

Students Alumni Corporate Visitors
The University of Arizona | Eller College of Management
The University of Arizona Eller College of Management
Eller College Home > News, Events, and Multimedia > Press Releases > Students test business skills in social arena

Press Release

Eller Press Contact

Liz Warren-Pederson
Eller College of Management

Eller College students test business skills in social arena

Impoverished Nigerian women are beneficiaries of Social Entrepreneurship class project

TUCSON, Ariz. – DATE – At first glance social activism and entrepreneurship seem at odds with each other, but upon further scrutiny entrepreneurship can indeed encompass both the gold and the greater good. A handful of students enrolled in a Social Entrepreneurship class at the Eller College of Management are currently immersed in entrepreneurship for the greater good, hoping to bring the gold to an impoverished group of Nigerian women.

Seven students under the tutelage of Stephen Gilliland, Eller College Department of Management and Policy head and professor, have spent a semester creating a business structure for a nonprofit venture to benefit Nigerian women — Institute for Research on African Women, Children, and Culture (IRAWCC). The group of graduate and undergraduate students will present the results of its work to professors and community supporters Monday, May 1 from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. in McClelland Hall on The University of Arizona campus.

Leslye Obiora, professor of law at the James E. Rogers College of Law, piloted IRAWCC in 2004 with the hope of improving the lives and status of 103 women in the Nigerian village of Oguta. The project has been successful, but Obiora needed help structuring the organization and communicating the concept to potential investors. She brought her plight to Gilliland’s Social Entrepreneurship students, who embraced the idea. They quickly stepped in to research the venture and provide recommendations on organizational structure, as well as reorganize the financial management of the operation.

Gilliland has been teaching the Social Entrepreneurship class for five years. Its purpose is to enable students to use their business skills to address social and environmental issues. With the cohesion and sustainability of Obiora’s project in jeopardy, this year’s student work is paramount to the continuing success of IRAWCC.

According to Gilliland, students in the class are being exposed to ways their business knowledge and leadership abilities can be used to contribute to society’s greater good. He cited a comment from a student who said, “This is the most valuable and fulfilling endeavor in all of my undergraduate and graduate experiences.”

Oguta, Nigeria was selected for the pilot project because women living there are significantly economically depressed and occupy a low place in the social hierarchy. Nigerian high school students were identified to teach the women the skills necessary to raise their socioeconomic status. Once the women have fulfilled required classes focusing on social, political, economic, cultural, and civic knowledge and skills, they become eligible for a micro loan to begin a business venture.

The presentation of recommendations will take place in McClelland 208. For further information about the project and the class, contact Stephen Gilliland at 520.621.9324 or

The Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona is internationally recognized for pioneering research, innovative curriculum, distinguished faculty, excellence in management information systems, entrepreneurship, and social responsibility. U.S. News & World Report ranks the Eller undergraduate program No. 11 among public business schools and two of its programs are among the top 20 — Entrepreneurship and MIS. U.S. News & World Report ranks the Eller MBA Full-Time program No. 48 in the U.S. In addition to a Full-Time MBA program, the Eller College offers the No. 25-ranked Evening MBA program, the Eller Executive MBA and the Online MBA. The Eller College of Management supports more than 5,800 undergraduate and 800 graduate students on the UA campus in beautiful Tucson, Arizona, and on its satellite campus in downtown Phoenix.

Press Contact:
Liz Warren-Pederson, Eller College of Management

For additional information, please contact us.