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Rayshawn Whitford ’12

Learning the Nuts and Bolts of Sustainable Solutions

Rayshawn Whitford ’12 / Pawcatuck, Connecticut

“When I chose Babson, I thought I knew what it was about—and what I was about. I was going to become an accountant and use my skills to help a company succeed.

But when I got here, I realized that Babson wasn’t just about business. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that business is about more than just numbers. Babson showed me that service is a valid business activity, and that Entrepreneurial Thought and Action® can make a difference in the world.

“Sure, I learned how to crunch numbers but I also spent nine weeks in Ghana, first working on a sustainable design project with a team of engineering students, and, then, thanks to a tip from a professor, participating in an international development design event. I enjoyed gaining an understanding of other cultures, and realizing that I could use my business skills to create solutions for social issues.

“For example, in Ghana I helped develop solutions that increased beekeepers’ incomes, and reduced malaria rates. That’s pretty heady stuff for a would-be accountant. See, I’ve learned that what typically happens in the developing world in terms of international aid is that Western countries go in and give people stuff. But what really needs to happen is to go in and learn about a culture and learn what resources people have and what tools they have, and, then, try to harness them to help themselves. That’s the only way to ensure sustainable, long-term solutions.

“That’s what I want to focus my career on now—especially since I’m now living in Rwanda, heading up the Babson-Rwanda Entrepreneurship Center there. My career path has changed but not my ultimate goal: to make a difference. Babson taught me to widen my horizons and keep my mind open to opportunities. That’s what entrepreneurs do.”

Photos of Rayshawn Whitford ’12​​​