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Students Create Social Entrepreneurship Company

Compass Partners

May 5, 2010 –Social entrepreneurship is the focus of a company created by graduating seniors from the McDonough School of Business.

As sophomores in 2008, Neil Shah and Arthur Woods created Compass Partners, which selects 15 students from Georgetown and American universities each year for a two-year program connecting students with entrepreneurs and local executives.

The idea is to give students mentors and opportunities to develop their own businesses.

“Anyone with the right resources and motivation can learn the skill set required to be a successful entrepreneur,” says Shah, a marketing and management major from Indianapolis.

Passion in Practice

Robert Bies, professor of management at the business school, taught the students the nuances of social entrepreneurship.

“Entrepreneurs and businesses are interested in one bottom line – financial sustainability,” he explains. “Social entrepreneurship operates on what we call the double bottom line, where businesses [also] look at being socially sustainable.”

Shah and Woods say they also were influenced by visiting assistant professor Sarah Stiles.

Schooled in Social Change

“[The company] would not have been possible if we didn’t have anyone who believed in us,” says Woods, who majored in international business plus operations and information management.

The students were introduced to Stiles after Shah took her social entrepreneurship course during his sophomore year. The course introduced Shah to social change theory and required him to work with a local nonprofit.

“A lot of inspiration came from her course,” says Shah. “You learn why you should start a social business and how it changes the world.”

Company Expansion

Despite top job offers in consulting and technology, the two are dedicating the remainder of the year to expanding Compass Partners.

“Our goal is slow but steady growth across the United States,” said Shah. The current focus for the company is on expanding the program to other D.C. area colleges and universities.

The company received 103 applications this year for the 15 available fellowship positions.

“Arthur and Neil are role models for taking the initiative to run with an idea and welcoming others to run with them,” Stiles says. “This is a race where all participants are winners.”

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