Anna Montoya, class of 2013, recently sat down with Laura J. Cole, editor of the Rollins Magazine. Anna has been involved with HCC in Apopka, was instrumental in bringing Changemaker Day to Rollins and is a team member for the SESi department. She talked to Laura about how she discovered the field of social entrepreneurship and her future plans upon graduating this May.
Laura Cole: What made you want to become so involved?
Anna Montoya: Getting involved never felt like something that I had to do in order to build up my resume. Rather, I got involved because I was interested to learn more about the world and my own community as well as to gain skills that you can’t always get in the classroom. On a personal level, coming from an immigrant background, I always understood the value of opportunities. Coming to a place like Rollins, I had so many options for my involvement and the beauty of college is that you can explore many new avenues. For example, upon starting college I had a completely different vision for what I would be doing once I would graduate four years later. Now, as I am preparing for my graduation in May, I look back at my experiences and can clearly see the evolution that has occurred as a result of my involvement.
LC: Why social entrepreneurship?
I first learned about social entrepreneurship during my sophomore year. Up until that point, I had very little understanding about business and had not foreseen this as a possible career path for my future. Little did I know that social entrepreneurship would become a large part of my life over the next few years. What I didn’t understand then is that social entrepreneurship goes beyond traditional notions of business as solely focused on generation of profit; it’s also about character, passion, and leadership. I think social entrepreneurship offers a unique opportunity to apply business models that holistically integrate the individual and the community, with a focus on developing, or improving, societies around the world. What I have found most appealing about social entrepreneurship is the possibility to make a lasting difference. In my past experience with NGO’s and aid organizations, these models have not always provided a sustainable means for supporting individuals. The scope of NGO projects is strongly affected by level of government support and funding. Whereas, a social enterprise is able to generate it’s own revenue that is then reinvested into the products and services that they provide. The last point that I would like to make is that social entrepreneurship is a means for empowerment. When I was in Guatemala this summer, I saw firsthand how local women became economically empowered through their work with the social enterprise. They were able to generate an income as well as make a contribution to their community.
LC: What are you doing in social entrepreneurship?
AM:I will divide this section up into my current/ upcoming and past projects. I was involved with the Changemaker Campus initiative over the last few years, that lead to Rollins’ designation as a changemaker campus. I also went abroad to London earlier this year, where I was working on a social enterprise project as part of my program. This summer I continue my journey to Guatemala where I interned with a locally-based social enterprise, soluciones comunitarias, part of the Social Entrepreneur Corps program and learned about a business model called MicroConsignment. Now that I am back at Rollins, I will be completing an internship in the Office of Advanced Entrepreneurship. As far as my future plans go, I’m looking into graduate school that would allow me to pursue social entrepreneurship on an international level.
LC: How has Rollins supported you on your journey?
AM: I wouldn’t be where I am today without good mentors and the support and resources that Rollins has provided me over the years. I had gotten involved in social entrepreneurship during my sophomore year because Micki Meyer, in the Office of Community Engagement, had recommended me to go on a conference with Crummer/ Office of Advanced Entrepreneurship. I remember not being able to understand why I had been chosen to attend when I had no idea what social entrepreneurship was at the time. But that was a seed that was planted in my mind that has been flourishing since.