Director of Social Innovation at Marquette University Kelsey Otero came to campus Monday to talk with students and community members about the importance of social entrepreneurship.
Part of “Entrepreneurons” — a discussion series about entrepreneurship put on in part by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation — the talk focused on an approach by start-ups and entrepreneurs to develop profitable solutions to social problems.
Otero emphasized the growing popularity of social entrepreneurship among college students.
“Gen Z … care deeply about social issues, more deeply than any generation before,” Otero said. “They care more now about creating an impact than they do making money.”
Otero spoke to the importance of students solving critical issues both on campus and in the community.
“Students see problems every day … administrators are not necessarily going to be the ones to solve them,” Otero said.
Otero works closely at Marquette with the 707 Hub, a socially-conscious, student-started space dedicated to furthering innovation and entrepreneurship. There, students practice social entrepreneurship by launching their ideas to solve issues that inspire them to act. Innovations have included apps that connect socially isolated students through meals to teaching homeless populations urban beekeeping.
“You can look right now and see how many young people are speaking out, taking a stand — and I expect that trend to continue,” Otero said.
Otero highlighted the importance of relying on student expertise in areas they may have a solid background in. Going forward, Otero believes there will be a shift in priorities for students coming out of college.
“[Students] care more now about creating an impact than they do making money,” Otero said.