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Service Over Self

Sonoma State University Rotaract Students Receive Approval for Matching Grant for International Social Entrepreneurship Project

rotaract_press_release_photo_low_res_new.jpgThis past weekend the Bahamian island of Eleuthera received a gift from the Rotaract club at Sonoma State University, a solution to funding their emergency vehicles, compliments of two grants and the dedication of three business students.  The students raised funds, applied for and received a grant from Rotary clubs of Eleuthera, Rancho Cotati, and Rotary International to make it happen.

During their alternative spring break trip to Eleuthera in 2012, the mission was to spread social entrepreneurship, that is, a way to help local communities make money and use it for the benefit of their community.  The fire department specifically asked the SSU business students to help them with a business plan, outlining a way to fund their department's emergency vehicles.  Miguel Garcia Cove, Earl Dunivan and Suroj Marajan dedicated themselves to helping this third world country come up with a solution to fund the emergency vehicles; one year later, their plan is becoming a reality.

Eleuthera suffers from the dilemma wherein emergency vehicles were donated to the island, but the government has no way of funding the fire trucks and ambulances.  That's where the SSU business students came in.  They studied the island, brought together their three different disciplines (marketing, accounting and finance) and came up with a plan. 

Currently, locals from the island import their mulch overseas.  The SSU students figured out a way to have yard debris collected throughout Eleuthera, and with the help of the grants, purchased an $18,000 wood chipper for the island.  The yard debris now is converted into mulch and sold throughout the island, bringing the price down from $16.00 to $14.00 a bag.  All of the proceeds now pay for gas, tires and the upkeep of their emergency vehicles.     

"It's not that hard to make a difference," Earl Dunivan, recent Sonoma State graduate, stated.  "This only took three people and it turned out to be bigger than I ever expected." 

"Putting service over self is an amazing experience.  It was in giving to others that I received the best career advancement of my life," said Mary Graves, the club's advisor and an instructor on SSU's campus. "This was two-way learning.  They taught us about how to have peace and be centered, and we taught them how to set up small businesses," Graves remarked when asked how both parties benefited from this experience.   At the end of this business adventure, each participant was welcomed home with immediate internships and acceptances to grad schools. 

The Rotaract Club at SSU has no intention of slowing down.  While focusing on recruiting new members to help spread their impact, they have also scheduled another alternative spring break trip to Eluthera in 2014 to help small business owners learn how to design a business plan of their own. 


About Rotaract

Rotaract is a Rotary-sponsored service club for young men and women ages 18 to 30. Rotaract clubs are either community or university based, and they're sponsored by a local Rotary club. This makes them true "partners in service" and key members of the family of Rotary.  As one of Rotary's most significant and fastest-growing service programs, with more than 8,400 clubs in about 170 countries and geographical areas, Rotaract has become a worldwide phenomenon.

Find out more information about Rotaract and what they stand for.

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