Oklahoma State University School of Entrepreneurship students have taken a giant step toward their goal of helping the world.
Students from the OSU Living Out of the Box Club wanted to create a social change in the world through entrepreneurship. The club’s founder, entrepreneurship student Josh Masterson, was inspired during a trip to impoverished Nicaragua and wanted to make a difference. The club was modeled after OSU entrepreneurship social venture Life Out of the Box, founded by Quinn Vandenberg and Jonathon Button, who support and advise the LOOTB Club.
“It was honestly baffling how poor this culturally rich country was,” Masterson said. “I got there and met the Nicaraguan people and fell in love with the community. There is so much potential in Nicaragua for commerce and growth, so I wanted to contribute in some way. I came back from the trip and created the Living Out of the Box Club for OSU students, and our first project was creating a social venture in Nicaragua where we partnered with Kiva Microfunds, a micro-lending organization, to get Nicaraguan cacao businesses up and running.”
Nicaragua isn’t the only country the club aids. The LOOTB Club wants to be an outlet for everyone’s ideas, aiming to create mutually beneficial partnerships.
“We want to create businesses, not projects,” Masterson said. “We want to help impoverished communities around the world and help people help themselves. The Riata Center for Entrepreneurship at OSU has been so supportive of our efforts and helped us utilize our resources at OSU to accomplish a lot of our goals. Alexces Bartley and Craig Watters have been great advisers to us. We plan to expand the club and take on more ventures across the globe”
The LOOTB Club learned about Enactus, a global organization that encourages students to use entrepreneurship to help others. Masterson and three other club members traveled to Dallas for the Enactus Regional Competition to represent OSU in the business plan competition. It was OSU’s first time being represented at the event, and more than 100 teams from universities across the nation competed. The LOOTB Club then partnered with Enactus last fall to become LOOTB Enactus, which allows the club to utilize resources from the global organization.
“All of the teams at the competition were so supportive of us and even impressed with our first ever presentation,” said Megan McKenna, operations manager for the LOOTB Club. “While we didn’t place, it was a learning experience and an eye-opener to how fortunate we are at OSU. Some schools aren’t as supportive as OSU, so we definitely had a renewed sense of gratitude. The Enactus organization shares a lot of our values, so partnering with them was an easy decision.”
LOOTB Enactus’s first project aims to raise $5,000 to begin product testing for Nicaraguan cacao products. LOOTB Enactus cuts out the “middle man” by removing roasters, packagers and distributers from the expenses of the Nicaraguan cacao farmers and develops giveback products using the cacao. Through Kiva Microfunds, 100 percent of the profits are reinvested into the Nicaraguan communities.
“We want to cut out the middle man and pay the Nicaraguan farmers what they deserve,” Masterson said. “We’re going to create a sustainable giveback product through the cacao that the farmers cultivate and reinvest all profits back into the community. But we won’t stop there, more communities in the world need help, and we’re already looking for our next venture.”
To learn more about the LOOTB Enacus Club, visit https://campuslink.okstate.edu/organization/livingoutofthebox.