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Spark: Social Entrepreneurship in Rural Communities

 Registration is closed for this event


Social Entrepreneurship in Rural Communities: Breaking Generational Cycles of Poverty

Facilitated by Elizabeth Dettke ’19CSSW

Tuesday, November 13, 2018
6-8 p.m.
Refreshments included with RSVP

Uris Hall, Room 329
3022 Broadway
New York, NY

In 2014, Elizabeth Dettke and Christine Nyirahabimana started a social enterprise bakery in Rwanda, hiring 10 HIV positive single mothers as their employees. The business was an immediate success and after six months, all employees were able to double their monthly incomes. However, starting a business is no easy task. During a drought, they had to temporarily cease operations due to rising commodity prices. Even more devastating was that the business lost 3 of its employees to AIDS. These would be difficult setbacks for any start-up, but Christine and Elizabeth are determined to make their social enterprise sustainable.

This workshop will discuss how to make a micro social enterprise profitable and viable. It will focus on the importance of staff development, capacity building, and knowledge transfer. How does one ensure a small business in a rural setting has the necessary tools to thrive? For how long and to what extent is outside funding helpful and necessary? The Duterimbere Bakery hires women who have been historically marginalized from their communities. What type of support do such initiatives need from a policy and market perspective?


  • How do you make a micro social enterprise sustainable?
  • How do you scale a micro social enterprise in a rural community?

Elizabeth Dettke is a Masters candidate at Columbia University’s School of Social Work where she majors in social enterprise administration and minors in business. She completed her undergraduate studies in foreign affairs and French at the University of Virginia and served in the Peace Corps in Rwanda where she supported the launch of the women-run social enterprise, the Duterimbere Bakery.

Thereafter, she worked for the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee before joining DAI’s (Development Alternatives Incorporated) business development team. DAI was voted best social sector consulting firm in 2017 and is one of the United States Agency for International Development's largest implementing partners. The work took Elizabeth to Afghanistan, Tunisia, and Madagascar where she worked on 5 to 60 million-dollar proposals for donor-funded projects in private sector development, livelihoods, conservation, service delivery, and decentralization.



Spark provides Social Innovators with an opportunity to explore resources, connections and potential solutions to help their social ventures. These workshops tap into the collective knowledge within Columbia University and the larger entrepreneurial and social impact community.

Spark is a platform for ventures to make valuable connections, as the audience is a self-selected group interested in the topic area. Ventures are also able to gather ideas through group brainstorming to help them address specific questions or problems within the business organization. 

These workshops are free and open to all who are willing to bring their ideas, experience, and connections to help solve social and environmental challenges that social innovators aim to address.

If you are unable to attend the above event but would like more information on Spark, please register for our mailing list.

For more information, or if you would like to suggest a future Spark workshop, please contact

This workshop is supported by the Lang Center for Entrepreneurship, Social Enterprise Club, Green Business Club, and Tamer Center for Social Enterprise at Columbia Business School; and the Social Entrepreneurship Club at Columbia School of International and Public Affairs.

November 13th, 2018 from  6:00 PM to  8:00 PM
Uris Hall, Room 141
New York, NY 10027
United States
Phone: (212) 854-1649