BHP junior Madison Gove was one of three BHP students to receive the Texas Exes President’s Award in the 2014-2015 school year. Madison is a co -president of UT Students for Wema and Executive VP for Texas Enactus. Madison and a group of five other students restarted Students for Wema at a time when the organization had become defunct. She worked to reinstate the chapter and communicated with the owner of The Wema Children’s Centre in Kenya to learn more about what they needed and how she and other UT students could help them.
Through conversations with the owner, they hatched a plan to provide a sustainable source of income to the orphanage in the form of a bakery. The orphanage was heavily reliant upon outside donations. They wanted something they could do themselves and they realized that making bread would be a great source of income since there was a need for it in their village. The cost of the bakery was estimated to be $45,000 and UT Students for Wema decided to raise these funds.
Madison led the charge, first trying to raise the funds through events, then through corporations, eventually soliciting individuals for donations. This past fall, her team was successful in securing a private donation to cover the cost of the bakery. Having secured the funding, the group recently transitioned their work to providing curriculum to tackle another challenge the orphanage was facing – a lack of job opportunities for graduates of the orphanage not attending college. Older girls leaving the orphanage had fewer job prospects, occasionally turning to the area’s prevalent sex trade for income. Once the bakery is complete, these young women will be able to work at the bakery for a year. During this time, they and other students at the orphanage will complete a 6-8 week course designed by the Students for Wema group. The program will teach them about social entrepreneurship and financial literacy. They hope to encourage the students to build their own business venture and empower them to break a cycle of poverty.
The Students for Wema group will bring the same curriculum to high-school students in Austin under the title “SEEKing Change.” Their first school will be Travis Early College High School. Not only will they teach low-income students about social entrepreneurship and financial literacy, they will mentor groups of students in creating their own social venture idea. The group is currently talking to angel investors in the area to try to secure their presence at the student’s final idea pitches to invest in start-up funding.
Madison’s involvement in Texas Enactus is also a help to her Students for Wema work. She connected with the group, which is a chapter of the international non-profit Enactus, while seeking funding for the Wema bakery. The organization develops, mentors, and funds social entrepreneurship ventures at UT. As the Executive Vice President of the team, she now works to secure new corporate business partners.
Coming into McCombs, Madison thought her calling was in non-profit work, but after working more with the Students for Wema group, she realized that social entrepreneurship was her true calling. She hopes to secure an internship this summer working in corporate social responsibility. In the meantime, she is excited to see the surge of interest in social entrepreneurship from UT students. She is also hoping she will have the chance to visit the new bakery once it is complete in 2017.