In September 2015, the Crowell School of Business at Biola University launched the Biola Startup Competition with the aspiration to foster kingdom-minded, Christ-honoring entrepreneurship across the university community and develop greater opportunities for business as ministry.
In August 2016, the Crowell School of Business began hosting the annual Praxis Academy, a one week intensive on the integration of theology, culture, and redemptive entrepreneurship. Two hundred Christian students from ninety universities participate in this “by selection only” gathering. Over these past three years, fifty Biola students have become Praxis Academy graduates. Jordan (Perkins) Terranova, whose Startup idea, Illuminate International, won the Biola Startup Competition in 2017, is also a Praxis Emerging Founder.
Innovative thinking is alive and well at Biola University. Last year, Biola students/Praxis Academy grads, Elaine Fung and Ashley Moschetti, founded the Biola Entrepreneurship Society to intentionally build community on campus for like-minded startup thinkers. Elaine graduated from Biola in May; Ashley is the president of the Society this academic year.
The Praxis Academy 2018 class consisted of sixteen Biola students and alums: Almesha Oldham, Benjamin Bedley, Brendan Sun, Grace Johnstone, Ijah Lockett, Justin Sinclair, Karissa Le, Katie Genung, Kelly Campbell, Phillip Pamplin, Priscila Fuentes, Sarah Chang, Seongmin Choi, Steven Choi, Vanessa (Jang) Viss and You (David) Chae.
Ijah Lockett, a Clinical Nursing major and Biblical Studies minor at Biola, said, “For a long time, I tried to imagine what my life would look like with the awareness that there were so many suffering people locally, nationally, and around the globe. Within the last year, I wondered if the work I completed as a nurse would ever make a difference. I questioned my value and placement in the world, praying for direction. Shortly after, I was introduced to Praxis Academy, an organization dedicated to redeeming entrepreneurship as a vessel for the world. Within the first hour, my life changed.”
Justin Sinclair, a Music Composition Biola alum, adds, “Praxis Academy was exactly what I didn’t know I needed. It’s the community I’ve been looking for that is concerned with and in pursuit of all the things I care most about. I’m very grateful to be a part of such a community. The Academy helped clarify and define what I believe my vocation to be and provided practical tools for faithfully living it out. Words can’t quite express how grateful I am. Thanks for inviting me to be a part of it!”
In addition to the sixteen Biola students, Oscar Merlo, Director of the Center for the Study of the Work and Ministry of the Holy Spirit Today, at Biola University, reached out to his extensive network in Latin America. Fourteen Latin American innovators from ten countries also joined the Biola cohort for this year’s Praxis Academy, namely:
ARGENTINA: María Constanza Pacheco
BOLIVIA: Carla Ardaya, Carlos A. Zavala
BRAZIL: Giovanna Siena
COSTA RICA: Amber Fiorella Soto Loría
COLOMBIA: Beatriz Helena Falla Cedeño
GUATEMALA: Lael Zapata
HONDURAS: Carlos D. Zavala, Jose A. Zelaya
MEXICO: Alisson Luna, Joel Rocha, Juan Alberto Benitez
PARGUAY: Marina Da Re Jara
VENEZUELA: Vasni Salas
Commenting on her experience, Lael Zapata of Guatemala says, “It was amazing to learn from so many great people, and meet people with the same heart towards God. It refreshed my soul, opened my eyes, and filled me up with hope. And I can’t wait to see what God has planned to do through our cohort in Latin America. I was blessed tremendously by Praxis—now I know how to keep my family’s legacy going, changing Guatemala one student at a time; how to keep my ambition holy and centered on God; and how to be successful in a work place and have a steady spiritual path.”
Giovanna Siena of Brazil adds, “Praxis Academy gathered (for a whole week) a holy community to share disruptive concepts such as redemptive entrepreneurship, and to worship an amazing and creative God. It really changed my life! Now I am more than excited to put all that I’ve learned into practice here in Brazil!”
I’m on the Latin America cohort’s WhatsApp Group list and the conversations are still buzzing.
Pray for our friends in Latin America and our students here at Biola.
The 4th annual Biola Startup Competition is now underway and many participants of the Biola Startup Competition become Praxis Academy grads. September 17th was our kickoff event featuring social entrepreneur
Brit Gilmore, President of The Giving Keys (Forbes 30 Under 30).
Jon Hart, Partner, Praxis Academy, will be on campus Wednesday, November 14th at 7:30 PM in Moats Auditorium, to facilitate a Biola Startup Competition workshop on Redemptive Entrepreneurship. The Biola community of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends are invited.
The Biola Startup Competition and hosting the annual Praxis Academy are made possible by friends of Biola and the Crowell School of Business. We are grateful for your financial support and encouragement.
And to better train our innovative thinkers here at Biola, we are in the process of launching an Entrepreneurship concentration at the undergraduate level and in the Fall of 2017 the Crowell School of Business launched the Master of Management, Nonprofit Organizations degree, designed for leaders in nonprofit and faith-based organizations who are committed to igniting business and social impact solutions.