Expansion Goal Unites Entrepreneurs Without Borders
by Sarah Small
International borders were bridged recently by student-entrepreneurs when a group of students from the Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek, in Osijek, Croatia came to ILLINOIS. The students are members of the Croatian chapter of Entrepreneurs Without Borders on a reciprocal visit in the United States. They are spending time with ILLINOIS students who visited the University of Osijek last January.
The organization, Entrepreneurs Without Borders was founded in 2008 at ILLINOIS as a resource for entrepreneurially-minded students, said Grace Sears, junior in Marketing & Management and vice president for marketing of the organization. She said students involved in the organization use their entrepreneurial and business skills to help small businesses and disenfranchised people around the world. The chapter at the University of Osijek is the second most active chapter of the organization, behind only ILLINOIS.
While they were here the 12 visiting students attended classes and lectures at the University, paid a company visit to Caterpillar and collaborated with ILLINOIS students to prepare and present a case competition.
Željka Filipovic, a business student majoring in entrepreneurship at the University of Osijek, said she became involved in Entrepreneurs Without Borders because of the opportunities it provide for members. Although the organization is still a young one, she is pleased with the work that has already been done with local businesses in Croatia.
“We have existed as an organization just three years, but in such a short time we managed to do several projects with local entrepreneurs,” Filipovic said. “We’ve also had three groups of American guests and have done several consulting projects with small entrepreneurs.”
Filipovic sees visiting ILLINOIS as an opportunity to learn more about entrepreneurship, observe the American school system and practice her English.
“I can't to choose my favorite thing about the trip,” Filipovic said. “It was so eye-opening in every single way. I learned so many things about business, opportunities, people and different culture.”
During the visit, the ILLINOIS and Croatian students also spent time together planning for the future of the organization. Last year, students in the organization traveled to India where they worked with entrepreneurs and small business, Sears said. Another trip is being planned for students to return to India and build upon the work they did.
With travel plans already in the works and a thriving sister chapter in Croatia, members of the ILLINOIS chapter of Entrepreneurs Without Borders look forward to the continued growth of the organization. Sears said that this year the organization is concentrating on increasing its campus membership and reaching out to other universities across the United States.