Tapping Student Talent for Entrepreneur Advantage

Associate Dean for Business Impact Jerry Davis of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business tells AACSB how the university hopes to promote local entrepreneurs to succeed through student run free offered courses on accounting.


Jerry Davis: [00:00] One of the things that we recognized is that we have this wonderful, amazing city, very nearby Detroit. It was the home of the auto industry still is for 100 years in this incredible innovative center that had fallen on hard times economically. The big three auto makers are not employing people in bulk the way that they used to. That creates a set of challenges.

[00:41] Our hope is to try to encourage more entrepreneurship, both for profit and non profit. We think the university has some skills and talents that we can bring to bear to help local entrepreneurs start, grow, build their businesses and then, ideally create jobs, help the economy, and help the city thrive.

[01:01] One of the things that I'm most excited about is that every Friday we have free accounting Fridays, where we help local entrepreneurs in Detroit basically get their books together and do their accounting. It sounds mundane. It's like, "Oh, accounting." What we've discovered is that accounting is the gateway drug for everything else in business.

[01:21] Everybody needs to keep track of their accounts. Everybody needs to be able to document to a bank if they're going for a loan where the money is going. And so, it's a place where you can really reach businesses. Once you see the books, you can see if there's bigger issues that they might have that we can help with.

[01:39] The university provides a bunch of services legal services, consulting services all kinds of efforts to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses. One of the great things that we learned is that it's a real mutual benefit. We have undergraduates come from Ann Arbor to Detroit. They spend their Friday afternoon meeting with these small businesses.

[01:59] The things that they thought were just abstract things that only made sense in a classroom, when they're sitting across from somebody, helping them understand their business better and saying, "Ah, you thought you were making money on the cosmetics but it's actually on the hair care," which is a real example, or, "Let me tell you, here's what you're going to have to do to be able to pay this loan back," they're having a real impact on people's lives.

[02:22] It's a small thing but it's a really important thing that both of them are really able to benefit.

Filmed at AACSB's Annual Accreditation Conference in Washington, D.C., September 2018.