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New Fellows program equips students to make local and global impact

Lipscomb professor created a new Business as Mission Fellowship, training students to make a sustainable impact on local and global communities.

Anna Moseley  | 

News - Bam Fellows Learn Day

From left to right, Rebecca Ahlberg, AJ Powell, Matthew Stuart, Raina Turatsinze, Lainey Kendall, Mallory See (ABLE staff), Lydia Baker, Rob Touchstone, Barrett Ward (Founder, ABLE.)

Lipscomb University’s Center for Business as Mission took a major step forward this school year by establishing the Business as Mission Fellowship program, an opportunity for undergraduate students to delve deeper into BAM concepts.

Rob Touchstone, co-founder of The Well Coffeehouse, a social enterprise with six locations, came to Lipscomb in 2015 to create and establish the Center for Business as Mission and is now implementing the new fellowship program, which enrolled its first seven students this past fall.

“We want this fellows program to train the next generation of business leaders who will make an impact on society,” said Touchstone. “Our hope is that the skills they learn through this highly experiential fellowship will equip them to make a difference in whatever area of business they pursue as a career. For some that will be corporate influence. For others it may mean starting a social enterprise of their own.”

The Center for Business as Mission, housed in the College of Business, teaches undergraduate students how to use their business education and business skills to serve others.  “Most people already know how to fish. What they need is access to the pond. That pond is education, opportunity, and capital,” Touchstone emphasizes. “And that is where our students can truly utilize the concept of business as mission to serve others.”

Students in Touchstone’s entrepreneurship classes start their own on-campus business ventures during the semester to provide seed capital for entrepreneurs and artisans in developing areas. Some students have travelled abroad to work with and learn from the artisans these efforts support.

The BAM Fellowship now intensifies those experiences by offering students strategically coordinated service opportunities, mentoring, experiential learning, additional academic training and a global learning experience carried out throughout the student’s college experience.

The seven inaugural BAM Fellows are Aijalon Powell, Rebecca Ahlberg, Lydia Baker, Raina Turatsinze, Matthew Stuart, Lainy Kendall and Cassidy Alexander.

Baker, a senior entrepreneurship and human resources major said she has been involved in several different experiences during her time at Lipscomb because of the BAM program. Now that she is a BAM Fellow, she said she has the opportunity to take a step further and work closely with other students who share the same passion for BAM.

News - BAM Fellows Grace and Lydia

Lydia Baker (right) spent six weeks mentoring women like Grace (left) during her time in Kenya.

“The knowledge I have gained through BAM Fellows has been through real-world, hands on experiences. I was in Kenya for six weeks working with a business owner named Grace,” said Baker. “I got to sit down with Grace each week and look at different strategies that she could implement in growing her business.

“Not only did she have a good reputation with her business, but she was also a role model for many women in her community. I was able to share some of my general business knowledge with her, stuff that I have learned in several of my business classes here at Lipscomb. But because of the BAM classes I had taken, I was able to see and understand the other side of it, which was the intersection of Grace's business and her faith.”

Students that fulfill all components of the program receive valuable knowledge and experience for their future career as well as a special ceremony to honor their accomplishments upon completion of the program.

Because of their business education and experience, BAM Fellows receive opportunities to teach, mentor and train others as they work toward their required 50 hours of service learning.

Each year they are involved in the program, the BAM Fellows are partnered with a mentor already involved in their field of interest. Students are required to facilitate two mentoring sessions per semester, in which they ask their mentor intentional questions about their career.

“The Center for BAM has created a network of mentors who agree to take on a student mentorship,” said Touchstone. “Students have the opportunity to partner with someone in a field within business as mission or social entrepreneurship and learn from their experiences.”

Another component of the BAM Fellowship is the experiential learning and consultation project. This project allows students to learn through experience by partnering with an existing social enterprise and fulfilling a need within their organization.

Nashville is home to several successful social enterprises such as Thistle Farms, Nisolo and Able. BAM Learn Days place students directly into businesses like these and allow them to gain knowledge from their own community.

The fellowship also includes an annual global learning opportunity for students to work alongside aspiring entrepreneurs to create sustainable and long-term development in a disadvantaged nation.

“Through a partnership with Soles 4 Souls, students will take a large supply of used shoes to Jamaica and will teach a local woman the business skills they have learned in their classes,” said Touchstone. “The students will help her develop an infrastructure to start a used shoe business.”

“It is for a whole month, which I feel like will give the students the chance to dig deeper and fully immerse themselves in the culture, the business and the people they will be working with,” he continued.

A BAM fellow must also complete  a 15-hour minor in business as mission before graduation . The classes offered intentionally integrate theology, business, entrepreneurship, creativity, and sustainability and are designed to complement a variety of majors, so any student, regardless of their major, can minor in business as mission, even if they are not a fellow.

Applications for the BAM Fellowship are accepted on a rolling basis. Contact Rob Touchstone if you have any questions about the program or application process.

Learn more about Business As Mission and The BAM Fellowship.

Learn more about the College of Business.