A new pilot effort will seek to strengthen ties between Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) and business students at EMU and other Anabaptist-related schools.
MEDA, an association of 3,000 Mennonite business people, has a dual thrust of promoting a Christian witness in business and operating business-oriented programs of assistance to the poor. Its efforts include micro-finance and production/marketing programs in 10 countries and business training and community development programs in a number of major cities across North America.
An agreement to work at exchanges, internships and learning/research opportunities was recently formalized by Howard Good, MEDA’s vice-president of North American operations, and Allon H. Lefever, associate professor of business and director of the MBA program at EMU.
The agreement, which may be replicated at other institutions, will build on MEDA’s ongoing relationship with Mennonite colleges. Business students receive complimentary copies of “The Marketplace” magazine and are eligible for reduced rates at the annual MEDA convention. The arrangement seeks to expand business students’ understanding of the integration of faith, business and development, involve more of them in MEDA’s work and provide more learning opportunities within MEDA’s program.
“This process has already started [at EMU],” Lefever noted. “We’re exposing students more deliberately to MEDA’s thrust of faith, business and development by distributing ‘The Marketplace’ directly into the classroom and making assignments based on its content, using it as a reference,” he said.
“We also want to identify areas where MEDA’s need for certain kinds of analysis can be matched with MBA students who have to do an applied project. An example would be a product from a MEDA program that needs some assessment in terms of cost structure and world demand,” Lefever added.
Plans also call for a sponsored internship program for undergraduate or MBA students; an annual MEDA-sponsored speaker or lecture series, increased connections between EMU business students and the Harrisonburg MEDA chapter and greater awareness of MEDA values and projects in the school’s SIFE chapter (Students in Free Enterprise).
From the MEDA side, benefits include more potential student interns for MEDA projects; increased student attendance at the annual MEDA convention; and greater engagement by students with issues of faith/business/development.
“We hope to reach agreements like this with other Anabaptist-related colleges that have business departments,” said Good.