community entrepreneurs

Josh Goralski (back row, left) pictured with community entrepreneurs in Hinche,
Haiti after they completed their business skills training.

Originally published by Quinlan School of Business

By Monica Sather | Student reporter

Loyola graduate student Josh Goralski is on a mission: empower rural Haitian communities through business education. And he’s moving closer to his goal with the help of the Quinlan School of Business and its students.

This spring, Goralski enrolled in the Social Entrepreneurship course taught by Seth Green, executive lecturer and founding director of Quinlan’s Baumhart Center for Social Enterprise and Responsibility.

One of the class projects: help Goralski scale the social enterprise he founded. The enterprise currently focuses on building water filtration businesses funded through micro-financing.

From idea to clean water

Water-related diseases take the lives of an estimated 5,700 people per year in Haiti, and 52.4 percent of Haiti’s rural population does not have access to clean water.

While Goralski was an undergraduate student at Rockhurst University, he and his classmates developed an innovative business idea to address this need for clean water and bring business education to rural Haiti: they would empower communities to set up a small business where water filters would be sold by local community members. The sellers would be trained and certified to micro-finance the filters affordably for their community members.

“All of this is centered on empowering communities,” says Goralski. “We wondered, how do we work with a local community partner, provide access to business education training, and empower these
communities?”

Goralski expanded his beta testing under a pilot grant from Wine to Water, an international nonprofit organization focused on providing clean water to people around the world. To date, he has traveled to Haiti ten times and launched three water filter enterprises with Haitian community members.

Community work

In the Social Entrepreneurship class, Goralski, who is in Loyola’s Masters of Social Justice program, met MBA student Taylor Sticha. Sticha was excited about the potential impact of the social enterprise.

“This is a real problem, and this is a real way that we are going about solving it,” she says.

The ceramic water filter that the Haitian water enterprises sell can provide clean water for a family of five for up to 10 years with little maintenance, and save families $400+ USD over 10 years. The business is run by local community members, which contributes to the economic vitality of the community.

For the class project, Goralski, Sticha, and other Quinlan students brainstormed how to take the pilot to the next level and expand the enterprise. Then, with financial support from Quinlan, Goralski and Sticha traveled to Haiti for a week to conduct interviews with the water filter sales teams, discuss their challenges, and strategize. They shared business practices as well as information about water safety and cleanliness of water and hygiene.

Goralski and Sticha also taught English at the social enterprise’s local community partner, Happy Haitian Productions, a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching Haitian students English.

Unlocking opportunities

Goralski and Sticha agree that Quinlan’s Jesuit-values based education compliments their career ambitions.

“My motivation for going to Quinlan for my MBA is making that jump into leadership, but have those Catholic, Jesuit values and that mindset of working for the greater good,” says Sticha.

Goralski adds, “What motivates me is grounded in my Jesuit education and those Jesuit values of the whole person. This social enterprise is helping unlock opportunities for Haitians and working hand in hand with them to see the vision they have for their communities become reality.”

He continues, “What I’ve learned in my social justice program combined with what I learn in my Quinlan courses that has really informed this project. You need both, and I think that’s part of what makes the Jesuit education really rich.”