The Journal Record Business Briefs: June 22, 2010

Article excerpt

OSU-led partnership helps South African entrepreneurs

The Rainbow Nation of South Africa, a partnership between Oklahoma State University and three other universities, is providing support for historically disadvantaged South African entrepreneurs.

The Entrepreneurship and Empowerment in South Africa program trains 35 graduate and honors students each year to help emerging South African enterprises become more sustainable. The program is spearheaded by the Oklahoma State University Spears School of Business and includes partnerships with the University of Colorado, Texas A&M University and the University of the Western Cape in South Africa.

"Entrepreneurship is the future of South Africa, as new ventures will account for a growing number of jobs, new products and services and much of the new wealth created in the country," said Michael H. Morris, professor and head of the OSU School of Entrepreneurship. "South Africa faces the unique economic development challenge of attempting to correct past wrongs, while at the same time becoming globally competitive. It is in this context that entrepreneurship is absolutely crucial."

Morris said the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in South Africa, and the challenge is not to help businesses start, but rather to help enterprises grow.

Now in its 12th year, the 2010 Entrepreneurship and Empowerment in South Africa program began May 29 and will conclude July 10.

There are 20 U.S. participants and 15 from the University of the Western Cape. The students will spend six weeks in South Africa using a model developed by program faculty to identify and prioritize the needs of the client enterprises. Students work in teams of four, and each consultant team works with two enterprises.

"We interview students and recruit the best students at the four campuses," Morris said. "Students must bridge a number of divides, recognize an underlying problem in operations or sales and then apply creativity and critical thinking in solving the problem while helping these companies."

The participants, who can earn up to six hours of college credit for their work, are coached by one South African and three U.S. faculty members. The students spend the mornings in lectures and the afternoons and evenings with client meetings and field research.

"The days are long, and often include weekends, but we get back so much more than we give," said Kip Kelley, an OSU master of business administration student who is in South Africa with the program.

During the program, the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town serves as the host institution, providing housing, classroom facilities and other resources to support the consulting teams.

Two Oklahoma legislators nominated for national posts

State Reps. Anastasia Pittman and Ken Luttrell have been nominated to serve as officers of the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators.

Formed in 1992, the national caucus began holding regular meetings during 2005 as part of the State-Tribal Relations Project, a partnership between the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Congress of American Indians. It is currently made up of about 80 members from 18 states.

Pittman serves as the second elected representative of the Seminole Nation on the Native American Caucus of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. A Democrat from Oklahoma City, she currently is serving her second term as the caucus secretary and has been nominated to serve as the national caucus treasurer.

"The national caucus gives Native American legislators across the country a chance to collaborate and try to solve some of the challenges that tribal communities face," Pittman said.

Pittman's predecessor in the Oklahoma House of Representatives is Enoch Kelly Haney, former principal chief of the Seminole Nation, an artist and businessman. …