MBA students travel to Belize to work for common good

Sixteen Mount Mercy students enrolled in the Master of Business Administration program traveled to Punta Gorda, Belize, to work with local businesses in January. Students partnered with entrepreneurs to enhance development of five businesses, varying in services from solar dried fruit to an Internet café. Punta Gorda is the southernmost sizable town in Belize, with a population of approximately 5,500 people representing seven ethnic groups.

In Belize, Mount Mercy partnered with ProWorld, a social enterprise which uses a business model to generate public good and alleviate poverty. Associate Professor and Chair of the Business Department Bob Walker, Ph.D., and Adjunct Professor of the MBA Program, Celina Peerman, Ph.D., led students on the trip.

“This provided a unique opportunity for our MBA students to apply all of their knowledge, skills and talents to help increase the economic development of Punta Gorda,” Walker said. “The students had a direct impact on these small businesses, increasing revenues and sustainability, which will have a ripple effect through the community.”

During the week-long trip to Punta Gorda, students were tasked with applying effective problem solving, critical thinking skills, strategy, and effective communication while demonstrating teamwork behaviors and professional ethics.

One Mount Mercy team worked with master drummer Emmeth Young, known throughout Central America for his extraordinary musical talent, to help redevelop his Maroon Creole Drum School after relocation to Punta Gorda. Young is the recipient of a $20,000 grant awarded by the government, and is in the process of constructing a space that will allow for drum sales, musical performances, and storage. Mount Mercy MBA students worked with Young to create a floor plan and drum display in his business, leading to the sale of five drums in one week – which is what he was averaging in sales in one month.

As the founder of Drums Not Guns, Young is also known for his passion for troubled youth. Mount Mercy students worked with Young to re-establish this program and reach out to local schools to find students struggling to find peace in their lives.

“He asks for the worst students and helps them turn their lives around. He says ‘take your anger and frustration out on the drum,’” MBA student Debbie MacDonald shared.

Walker said the trip to Belize would be available again next year for MBA students as a service project and hopes to build upon the relationships established in Punta Gorda.

MBA students travel to Belize