Entrepreneurs Without Borders

Entrepreneurs Without Borders, inspired by the work of Emeritus Professor Madhu Viswanathan and the Subsistence Marketplaces Initiative pioneered in Gies College of Business, is a program focused on entrepreneurship education, microenterprise development, and social innovation in global subsistence marketplaces. Illinois students learn about subsistence marketplaces through service-learning engagements that support entrepreneurship education and build capacity with micro-enterprises and social enterprises in international host communities.

Recent pre-pandemic engagements in 2018-19 involved work in rural and urban communities in Argentina, Tanzania, and South Africa. In collaboration with global partners in Tanzania and South Africa, students conducted informal field research, created contextualized curriculum, and facilitated participatory marketplace literacy and entrepreneurship education workshops with six different community groups in rural and urban subsistence marketplace settings. They also developed capacity-building projects for the social entrepreneurs and micro-entrepreneurs with whom they learned during their study abroad experiences.

In 2019, the OVAEL supported the Second Subsistence Marketplaces Bottom-Up Immersion Conference in Arusha, Tanzania, an innovative conference series organized by Professor Viswanathan that provides an opportunity for researchers, educators, practitioners, and students to engage with urban and rural subsistence marketplaces in various parts of the world, through direct conversations and observations. With key support from staff from the Marketplace Literacy Project and OIKOS East Africa, who have worked together for more than five years with Maasai communities in the Arusha region, conference participants (including Illinois students in Entrepreneurs Without Borders) experienced field engagements in rural, semi-urban, and urban settings and visited social enterprises working with Maasai communities. Conference track conveners facilitated reflection sessions each day to spark insights and new ideas for working on research, teaching, public engagement, and economic development related to global subsistence marketplaces.

Due to pandemic-related study abroad restrictions, Entrepreneurs Without Borders has been temporarily suspended. New programs will be posted when available.