Business Without Borders seeks social justice

Tara Powers

Engineers are no longer the only students traversing, bringing their vocational knowledge to citizens of needy countries.

Business Without Borders, one of Villanova’s newest organizations, is the first group of its kind.

Four senior business majors with visions of making a difference in the most distant corners of the world started the group this year.

In October 2008, BWB originated as a discussion group to air concerns about frustration with the stereotype surrounding the Villanova School of Business.

Four seniors were instrumental in its creation: current presidents Elizabeth Circe and David Grady, as well as Meaghan Gorman and Chuck Sgammato.

“Chuck and I were talking one day, kind of discussing how people have such a negative view of business students and a lot of these views aren’t unfounded,” Grady said. “We initially formed [BWB] as a discussion group talking about these stereotypes that we wanted to change.”

“We noticed a disconnect between the business school’s values and the concepts and the Augustinian values at Villanova, the dedication to social justice and service,” Sgammato said.

In light of this perceived disconnect, BWB created a mission statement, making plain its intention to bridge the gap between the University’s Augustinian values and the principles and concepts taught in the business school’s classrooms.

“We wanted to try to change that stereotype and have the group be a way for people like us, who care about service and business, to work together,” Circe said.

BWB is based on three pillars. First, the group intends to bring nonprofits to campus for networking and recruiting opportunities.

Second, they plan to bring speakers to campus for educational events on business and social justice initiatives, hopefully educating students about non-profit career opportunities they may not have considered before.

Finally, BWB will do service projects that utilize business skills locally and internationally.

“Engineers and nurses learn more tangible things – building things, healing people – that people see a place for in service, but we learn a lot of skills for service as well,” Circe said. “We can organize mircrofinancing, help emerging markets and apply entrepreneurial skills. We want to help locally, maybe do consulting.”

Grady agreed.

“Business students are kind of a resource that hasn’t even been tapped yet,” he said.

BWB was involved with several events on campus this semester.

Justin Knabb, Water for Waslala’s director of finance and accounting, came to speak to an audience of over 40 people.

Michael Wiest, executive vice president for charitable giving at Catholic Relief Services, also came to Villanova to speak to the group.

Members are currently involved in organizing a trip to Kenya in August along with Engineers Without Borders to help a village develop sustainable business practices.

The group also applied to be affiliated with Net Impact, a national organization similar to BWB that has chapters on different college campuses.

Affiliation with such an organization would open up opportunities for different speakers, as well as allow BWB members to participate in conferences through Net Impact.

Recently, BWB met with the VU Anti-Sweat Coalition, another on-campus group interested in partnering with them to support equal opportunities for workers.

In the future, BWB also hopes to get involved with the nonprofit career fair on campus.

“I’m excited to see where the group is going to go and where it’s going to be when we come back next year, because I think the group has a lot of motivation,” Grady said.

“I just feel like the group’s created a lot of opportunity for business school students that I didn’t have,” Circe said. “Hopefully we’ll see more people go to nonprofits after graduation, or people can pressure the company they work for to do socially responsible practices.”

The group now has over 50 people on its mailing list who have demonstrated interest and attend general meetings.

Interviews were just held to fill slots on the eight-person board for next year. Juniors Laura Picciano and Abigail Butkus will act as co-presidents.