Westmont ranks as No. 10 on Forbes’ 2015 list of the 50 most entrepreneurial colleges in the nation. The magazine evaluated the country’s most entrepreneurial schools based on entrepreneurial ratios: the total number of alumni and students who have identified themselves as founders and business owners on LinkedIn divided by the school’s student body (undergraduate and graduate combined). This year they separated research universities and smaller colleges.
The top 10 colleges joining Westmont in Forbes’ list include Cooper Union (1), Middlebury College (2), Colorado College (3), Bennington College (4), Morehouse College (5), and Trinity University (Texas, 8). Others schools are: Pomona College (12), Vassar College (15), Amherst College (25), Sarah Lawrence College (35), Villanova University (45) and Swarthmore College (49).
Forbes says about Westmont, “Its entrepreneurship center sends students to Haiti to help launch locally owned small businesses, like food stands and moped taxi services.”
For the past two years, Westmont students have traveled to Haiti during spring break to fund businesses using microfinance. They hire Haitians to manage the projects throughout the year who select prospective business owners based on recommendations from local officials. Students train the owners of the new enterprises, help them write acceptable business plans, and introduce accountability and checks and balances for daily operations.
“We seek to equip students with the skills and experiences they need to become social innovators, entrepreneurs and people who seek the global good as well as capital entrepreneurs,” says Westmont president Gayle D. Beebe. “The best studies indicate that one of the most pivotal experiences for undergraduates is an internship or experience that allows students to practice what they’ve learned in the classroom.”
Rick Ifland, director of Westmont’s Eaton Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, chairs the Department of Economics and Business and developed the Haiti project as part of his class Business at the Bottom of the Pyramid. He accompanies the students to Haiti each year.
Westmont Downtown, a new, semester-long academic program, opens in fall 2015. Based in downtown Santa Barbara, the program will train students in both capital and social entrepreneurship and provide internships with Santa Barbara-based businesses and social agencies. Rachel Winslow leads Westmont’s new Center for Social Entrepreneurship and coordinates Westmont Downtown.
Westmont alumni have started numerous businesses in the Santa Barbara area, including AppFolio, which recently went public, and MedBridge.