Knowledge is power

Annie Krikorian's Social Entrepreneurship course at Pepperdine University collaborates with SABEResPODER for final project.

“Saber es poder.” Or, in English: Knowledge is power.

A group of MBA students at Pepperdine University’s Graziado School of Business took this phrase to heart recently while working on a social entrepreneurship project for graduation.

The students were tasked with assisting SABEResPODER, a Spanish-language media company based in Los Angeles, in developing a website and a business strategy to connect Latino immigrants with jobs.

“It is a meaningful solution because aside from just jobs, you are also giving them [workers] hope,” Pepperdine student Jens Eser said.

SABEResPODER focuses on empowering the lives of Latinos by delivering educational content over multiple platforms—video, print, digital, mobile and events— to help immigrants assimilate into the United States. The company is a certified “B-corporation,” meaning “for-benefit. It is a new type of purpose-driven corporation, several of which have sprung up in recent years as traditional non-profit entities have grappled with continuing their mission as fundraising has dried up in the down economy.

The students had seven weeks to work on the project, breaking up into two groups before presenting their work last week. The experience has been eye-opening.

Like many people, the business students always thought that business was all about making money, said MBA student Benson Su. “But this project is at the intersection of business and values,” Su said.

“We learned that you can make money by making a difference,” TJ Wolcott said.

On April 15, the Pepperdine students presented their proposals to SABEResPODER’s executive team.

The first group of five students presented the “Help Buddy Opportunities” system, a website that allows users to search a database of workers in the SABEResPODER system and oversee their own hiring process for jobs or individual projects.

The website would connect individual consumers directly with a SABEResPODER worker who would self-report the necessary skill-set to complete the needed work. Consumers would be looking for workers who could help with cleaning, moving, gardening, repairs, childcare, or many other similar projects.

They presented sample customer and worker profiles, including a picture, skill set, language, and satisfaction rating options.

They conducted a survey of employers and of the total respondents, 86 said they would be willing to hire a Latino worker for a job or project from an online database.

“Malibu would be a good target community,” Pepperdine student Nicole Warner said. “There is high demand for workers.”

The second group of six students presented the “Micro-Business Opportunity,” an option to create a middle layer between the clients and the employees that oversee jobs being done and ensure their quality fulfillment.

This opportunity would help SABEResPODER grow an internal network of entrepreneurs who would become contractors and sales people that jobs are directed to and that uses their system to ensure appropriate fulfillment.

They proposed hiring and managing people via mobile phones. After conducting several studies and looking at the statistics, the group concluded that there is high demand for cleaning services and that it would be the best option for SABEResPODER to explore.

“They provided very useful data that we could use,” SABEResPODER’s Chief Operating Officer Bryan Corey said. “The information that both teams presented was very helpful.”

SABEResPODER was started in 2002 by a group of visionaries to improve the lives of Latinos in the United States by providing free printed guides on select topics of interest.

The company has since expanded throughout the United States with a mission to educate people and empower lives, reaching more than nine million Latinos.

The executive team is going to review the material and decide if they will utilize any of the options.

“It might take about two to three months,” Corey said.

“I was very impressed with the amount of energy and excitement that the students had while working on this project,” Annie Krikorian, the professor teaching the social entrepreneurship course at Pepperdine. “They have big open hearts and are looking to make a difference.”

For more information about SABEResPODER, visit saberespoder. com. To learn more about B corporations, visit bcorporation. net.