A team of five Florida State University students is working to create a small-scale social enterprise through a unique internship with a local merchant.
The new social entrepreneurship and innovation specialization within the FSU College of Social Sciences and Public Policy’s Interdisciplinary Social Science (ISS) program has teamed up with RedEye Coffee, which markets fair-trade, organic coffee and other products in its café and mobile coffee truck, to teach students to create and sustain an enterprise dedicated to positive social change.
Under the mentorship of RedEye Coffee founder Mark McNees, the students are designing a business plan for the mobile coffee truck that aligns with the company’s support of local and global humanitarian efforts.
The students will take the RedEye truck to targeted locations, including downtown Tallahassee during this year’s legislative session, and sell coffee directly to customers. The net revenue they generate will help fund scholarships supporting international internship and study opportunities for students in the ISS social entrepreneurship and innovation program.
“We would love to see this enterprise have the greatest possible impact,” said Bruce Manciagli, social entrepreneur-in-residence at FSU and the instructor of the introductory social entrepreneurship course in the ISS program. “But we don’t expect a venture on such a small and time-limited scale to be a big generator of revenue right off. Its greatest value is in giving these students the opportunity to learn the ropes of creating and maintaining a sustainable social enterprise.”
The RedEye team is composed of three students from the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy and two College of Business students: Samantha Matras, economics and social work major; Kara Kesler, political science/international affairs; Rebecca Wunderlich, international affairs and public administration; Macy Beswick, marketing; and Trey Christopher, finance.
RedEye supports numerous humanitarian projects, including Porch de Solomon, which builds homes and supplies needed medical services in Guatemala; Trade School Haiti, which empowers Haitians to create a sustainable economy; Serve Tallahassee, which holds food drives and other charitable events to benefit those in need within the Big Bend; and a completed documentary produced by Unseen Stories that shines light on child trafficking in Benin, Africa.
Most of the students on the team have taken or are currently taking one of several social entrepreneurship courses offered through ISS, economics and public administration within the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy.
Students from across the university, regardless of major, can pursue a specialization in social entrepreneurship and innovation within the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy through a series of courses and participate in high-quality local, national and international internships. The specialization is part of the university’s broader effort to introduce entrepreneurship to students outside the College of Business by championing projects that infuse entrepreneurship in every college.