Over the next two years, sophomores Clare Gamma, Rushien Maghsoud, Sophia Papademetriou, Ella Perkins, Lacey Somwaru, and Shannon Yehl are partnering with a catering company in Bauchi State, Nigeria, to bolster their business and support the broader community.
They are connected to the company through the International Business Internship Program, which offers high school students two-year internships with small businesses in the developing world. The program is organized by Washington, D.C.-based Leadership Initiatives, a 501(c)3 international nonprofit that helps students gain real-world experience, explore future careers, develop leadership skills and experience college life.
“As sophomores, you never really get this opportunity, so when Sophia presented it to us, I wanted to jump at it right away,” said Clare Gamma, whose role as an intern is to co-lead fundraising efforts for the catering business. “Helping people in Nigeria is going to expand all of us and make us more thankful for what we have in our lives.”
With the help of a translator, the group will meet with representatives from the catering business over video chat and help brainstorm strategies for promoting and sustaining the enterprise. The group is organizing monthly fundraisers, such as candy bar sales and Chick-fil-A benefit events, with proceeds benefiting the catering business.
“Our ultimate goal is to step outside our community and get new insights and work with new people. Definitely my goal is to increase my knowledge of leadership, gain more experience in the world as a whole and help our business in general,” said Sophia, who is the team lead and organized the group. “I know we’re not doing much work in the whole world, but specifically it’s going to help this community and the economics in Nigeria. I think that it should be a benefit.”
After speaking with their business partner in Nigeria for the first time in November, the group identified strategies to help her catering company, such as creating a system to keep track of business records and buying a food truck with an interior inspired by design thinking to make deliveries and cooking more efficient.
Shannon, who is a co-chair of fundraising with Clare, said the internship has exposed her to the challenges of running small businesses in developing countries.
“Beforehand I didn’t realize businesses like catering, hair salons, and photographers were struggling. I never realized that it was a problem,” she said. “I feel like this is another way to get involved around the world.”
Students said values of community and inclusivity, instilled in them at St. Andrew’s, have shaped a mindset that has helped them dive deeper into this project.
“St. Andrew’s taught me to be aware of the people around you and how you can help them, even if it’s just small things,” said Lacey, who is the group’s media chair. “It’s made me realize I should be doing things to help my close community but also the global community.”