URI College of Business Administration team wins top honors for business plan

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MBA students’ top dogs in Social Venture Partners competition

KINGSTON, R.I. – June 24, 2009 – Four University of Rhode Island students pursuing masters degrees in business administration were honored this spring by Social Venture Partners of Rhode Island for developing the best business plan for a non-profit agency.

URI’s winning team wrote a plan for a doggie daycare business for the non-profit Animal Rescue League of Southern Rhode Island. The team of Lisa Gheringhelli of Lynn, Mass., Elizabeth Grayeck of Norwich, Conn., Maximilian Hausdorf of Braunschweig, Germany, and Jeffrey Koplik of East Greenwich of R.I., earned a $5,000 grant, which will help support the doggie daycare program.

“Social Venture Partners of Rhode Island believes in the power of engaged philanthropy and it’s never too soon to start,” said Chuck Holland, the organization’s board chairman. “We’re excited that URI students have helped create this venture which will lead to sustainable program revenues for this worthy non-profit organization.”

Five URI teams of MBA students competed against teams from Brown, Johnson & Wales and Bryant universities in the Student Business Plan Competition 2009 sponsored by Social Venture Partners. Final business plans were due April 20, and then judged by a panel of business professionals. Social Venture Partners announced the winning team June 5.

The College of Business Administration of the University of Rhode Island is proud to have produced the winning business plan this year,” said Diane St. Laurent, the instructor of the MBA Social Enterprise course offered at the University. “We are thrilled for the Animal Rescue League of Southern Rhode Island, an organization that plans to use the $5000 grant to assist in the launch of Beach N Bones, a doggie daycare to be located in South County.

“The University is grateful to be working this closely with the Rhode Island community,” St. Laurent said. “Having this kind of impact on these organizations and the local economy is rewarding on many levels, but most importantly for providing a valuable service to local community organizations. The collaborative spirit of learning is meaningful to both the students and the organizations.”

Given the state of the economy, and the increasing demands placed on federal and state funds, non-profit organizations continue to look for new ways to independently earn revenues, according to St. Laurent. URI’s full-time MBA program has worked with more than 25 non-profit organizations since 2005, assisting them in earning revenue through the successful launch of social enterprises.

Social Venture Partners is an organization of leaders that helps Rhode Island’s nonprofit agencies become more effective and sustainable. Established in 2002 with the support of the Rhode Island Foundation, Social Ventures invests its time, expertise and resources with selected non-profits to promote the development and expansion of social enterprises — that is, revenue-generating opportunities that reinforce their mission while diminishing the need to rely so heavily upon traditional fundraising.

The other URI student groups developed business plans for the following:

• Crossroads Rhode Island, the largest homeless services organization in the state. The students developed a business plan for Crossroads Property Management, which offers lawn care and janitorial services to property owners with similar missions. The team members were: Clemens Dressel of Magdeburg, Germany, Ian Lyckland of Warwick, R.I., Kelly Morris of Providence, R.I. and William Walsh of Warwick, R.I.

• House of Hope Community Development Center, a non-profit organization that provides permanent housing for families and individuals in need. The URI students wrote a business plan for House of Hope Boutique Originals, which creates handcrafted tote bags using recycled materials. The team members were: Matthias Tschech of Branschweig, Gremany, Gema Vinuales of Junzano, Spain, Matthew Pickering of Lincoln, R.I. and Chistopher Fava of Carolina, R.I.

• J. Arthur Trudeau Memorial Center, an organization committed to providing services for children and adults with developmental disabilities. The students helped write a business plan for its Providence Potato Co., a local theme café that offers healthy and nutritious cuisine featuring organic baked and sweet potatoes stuffed with toppings of fish, meat and vegetables. The team members were: Elske Schulze of Wittingen, Germany, Christopher Moore of West Kingston, R.I., Shane Moynihan of Ashaway, R.I and Colin Shaw of East Greenwich, R.I.

• The George Wiley Center, a non-profit organization that focuses on heating and food assistance programs in Rhode Island. The students helped write a business plan for the center’s distribution of George Wiley’s Granola – Urban Survival Food, as a convenient snack food. The team members were: Joseph O’Donnell of Providence, Christina Bowes of Auburn, Mass., and Andrew Raucci of Wakefield, R.I.