Colorado State Business Students Tackle Global Issues Through Sustainability Master’s Degree

Note to Editors: PowerMundo, one of the enterprise teams formed as part of the Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise master’s degree, will make a presentation on a recent trip to Peru at 4 p.m. March 6 in Glover 201 on the Colorado State campus. Photos of the trip are available with the news release at

Nandini McClurg has worked a full-time job and raised her four kids in Colorado, all while pining to return to her native Gujarat, India, to tackle poverty.

At 52, she’s likely to get the opportunity as a student in the Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise master’s degree program at Colorado State University.

This semester, she’s one of 21 students in the new MSBA program working with nongovernmental and business organizations to solve problems of poverty, environmental degradation and poor health in such countries as Peru, India, Zambia and Mexico.

The College of Business started the MSBA program in Fall 2007 to teach students entrepreneurial, sustainable approaches to address great global poverty, health and environmental challenges. The program ultimately could help some of the world’s four billion people who live on less than $3 a day with creating their own sustainable solutions and businesses.

"I want to go back to India to do something meaningful with what I’ve learned in the United States," said McClurg, who also works full time as a research associate in the university’s Department of Atmospheric Science.

Students in the MSBA program form "enterprise teams" and learn to create and sustain international business development opportunities with a triple bottom-line impact: improving the lives of people and the condition of the planet while building enterprises that are sustained by solid financials and profitability.

So far, some student enterprise teams are working with partners in CSU’s Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory and with organizations around the world in such areas as clean technology, green building and small business development. The students will talk about their trips with some of their advisors and financial partners – individuals and businesses – at a private function at New Belgium Brewing Co. on Wednesday.

One enterprise team spent 18 days of CSU’s winter break in Bangladesh investigating the creation of a farmer’s cooperative with International Development Enterprises. Another enterprise called PowerMundo was in Peru in January to connect clean energy entrepreneurs with people in the developing world who want access to the new technology.

A major goal of the MBA program is to teach students the entrepreneurial process, said Carl Hammerdorfer, director of the GSSE program. Hammerdorfer, an entrepreneur who has started several companies, ran the Peace Corps operation in Bulgaria for five years before joining CSU. Paul Hudnut, a faculty member in the College of Business, helped start the GSSE program.

"This is an emerging sector of business opportunity," Hammerdorfer said. "We can’t count on all the projects to be successful, but we want to improve their chances for making a major impact."

The founders of PowerMundo have high hopes for its success. The enterprise acts as a clearinghouse to connect isolated communities with companies or organizations that provide solutions to meet basic human needs such as clean indoor air and reliable electricity. Other members of PowerMundo are Mike Callahan, who is team leader, Sule Amadu, Jacob Castillo, Patrick Flynn and Nandini McClurg. Between them, the team speaks 11 languages and has experience working in 20 countries on five of the seven continents.

While in Peru, PowerMundo student-entrepreneurs researched the market and distribution possibilities for clean cookstoves, household energy and solar lighting products. Students visited with top governmental officials and worked with world aid organizations as well as students from MIT and other universities. They also promoted CSU technology spinoffs such as AVA Solar, which makes affordable solar cells, and Envirofit International, which designs and builds cleaner-burning cookstoves and two-stroke engines for taxis in the developing world.

"PowerMundo aims to offer a suite of household energy products and technology solutions that will meet the needs of the end user," said Castillo, who, at 29, is also pursuing a master’s degree in agricultural and resource economics. "The GSSE MSBA program offers a way to use business as a vehicle of delivering products that positively impact people’s lives, protect natural resources and promote social justice."

Amadu, who is 30 and also a member of PowerMundo, left his job as a teacher in Ghana to learn more about mechanical engineering, which eventually led him to the GSSE program. His ultimate goal is to work as the PowerMundo representative in Ghana where the poorest people are being left behind by the government, he said.

In Ghana, Amadu designed his own clean-burning cookstove, so he knew he was in the right place when he first arrived in Fort Collins in 2006. On that trip, he toured CSU’s Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory, the nation’s largest independent engine laboratory, where Envirofit is based.

"I thought I’d see all these SUVs," said Amadu, who now works in the engines lab. "To my surprise, I saw cookstoves."