Students helping business development in Africa

Four Bradley students are helping to make a difference in Africa from halfway across the globe.
Since returning from Africa after serving with the Peace Corps, economics graduate student Michael Moroz has become involved with Haute, a not-for-profit organization that assists entrepreneurs in West Africa.
After interning with Haute, Moroz was offered a position as Haute’s director of development and works closely with three other student interns to improve the economic situation of small business owners in Africa.
“Already, Haute has seen real results from Africa,” he said. “We do business trainings with entrepreneurs in Guinea, a West African country that is very low on the development scale.”
Though at this point Haute only offers management training to its students, Moroz said the company hopes to change that soon.
“Hopefully, with an increase in our budget this year, we can start getting into microfinance and giving out microloans to our most successful graduates,” he said.
This would help the business owners in Africa grow their businesses and provide more jobs for local families.
Since the first class of business owners graduated from Haute’s programs, graduates have become more successful in business, with real, tangible results.
According to the company’s Web site, www.hautenet.org, graduates have made major changes to the way they run their businesses – including 65 percent that now keep accounting logs and 41 percent that has increased their number of permanent employees as a direct result of their training.
Although Haute promotes all entrepreneurship in Africa, it only works with established businesses to help strengthen the local economy.
Moroz said the opportunity to work with a company like Haute “provides an outlet for doing good and learning about making projects and plans a reality.”
This kind of hands-on experience is something Moroz said students wouldn’t get through a normal internship experience.
“Haute provides a great way for students to realize their social awareness and do something that connects them with a much larger community,” he said.
Presently, three Bradley students work as interns for Haute, but Moroz said in the past as many as seven at one time have worked with the company.
Despite the student interns never having been to Africa and most likely never going, Moroz said the students who work for Haute are getting great experience, all while helping others across the world.
“It is a worthwhile endeavor when you can honestly see the fruit of your labor manifest itself in the well being of others that you may never meet,” he said. “It is much more gratifying than making money for someone you will never see, like a private sector job.”
Ben Hafele, the founder of Haute and a former Peace Corps volunteer, started the first class in the fall of 2007. Since then, the company has trained more than 100 business owners in West Africa. For more information on Haute and how to get involved, visit www.hautenet.org.