I would like to offer a recap and some thoughts about the event that Teddy and I organized at The Ohio State University to spread the message of TBS, and Acumen Fund more generally.
The idea sprung from a conversation about how to spread the message of both Acumen Fund and The Blue Sweater among college students around the
Soon thereafter I booked Teddy a flight, procured sponsorships from several different university organizations and student organizations on campus, marketed through fliers, emails, and phone calls, and arranged two separate speaking events for Teddy, along with meetings and meals with students and faculty. Three weeks later, with everything arranged, Teddy flew into
Teddy’s first presentation was early the next morning, at 10:30. I had planned for this talk to be more discussion based, and thus arranged for a maximum capacity of 30. We filled the capacity, and Teddy spoke, answered questions, and asked questions of the audience for an hour and half. The audience consisted not only of students, but also of community members and faculty from various departments on campus, including the Department of Economics and the Center for African Studies. Teddy’s talk covered his own story, having grown up in Kenya and witnessing many of the issues that he is now fighting to ameliorate, his work with Common Vocabulary, and the role of social enterprise in eradicating poverty. Teddy also involved everyone in the audience by asking them to fill out a short survey covering their knowledge and perceptions of poverty around the world, and then asking them pointed questions about what peaked their interests in the presentation and the survey.
After a lunch with more students and faculty, and meetings with various student organizations on campus, Teddy was ready to speak for his second engagement, a more lecture-based presentation. The room filled up quickly with over 100 students and faculty, and after introductions, Teddy began his presentation by first showing the audience the 3 minute video of the AF Student Leaders Workshop. He followed the video by speaking about Acumen Fund’s work and message, discussing the Blue Sweater, and then segueing into a discussion of the role of social enterprise in development in general. Questions from the audience were insightful, asking Teddy how as students we could be more involved in social enterprise and the role of government in development.
The best part of this event extended past the fact that Teddy and I were able to arrange everything to make the event happen. Actually, the best part of the event was the interest that the talks generated among students and faculty about not only Teddy’s own work, but also about social enterprise, especially in a forum where the audience was relatively unfamiliar with the concept. The event also highlighted the importance of personally talking to students to spread the message of The Blue Sweater, and further, it was a great way to spark some interest in the book to help move along the initiative to make TBS a common book for next year’s incoming freshmen. Both Teddy and I, along with the students and faculty in the audience, found value in the presentations. We both look forward to continuing to engage with the connections that we made throughout the event, helping to foster the message at OSU, and taking it further at different universities around the
Check out Acumen Fund's Community Website for more information and insight into their work and social enterprise in general. I will post a video from the event on the Community Website shortly as well.