SBDC-OC CEO joins university team in Jamaica outreach

The top executive of the Small Business Development Corporation of Orange County joined a team of university students recently as they launched a ground-breaking educational initiative in Jamaica. 

Michael A. Ocasio, the corporation’s president and chief executive officer traveled in March with La Sierra University’s Enactus team members to the Caribbean island nation where the students presented their eLibrary project to the Ministry of Education. The eLibrary initiative involves enhancing Jamaican school curriculum, currently challenged by limited Internet infrastructure, with flash-drive-based technology. By plugging free, pre-loaded flash drives into school computers, students can access thousands of current text books and more than 100 instructional videos in digital form. 

The Enactus eLibrary project has been fully adopted by 21 schools in Jamaica and in partnership with the country’s Ministry of Education, the project will be implemented throughout Jamaica’s 171 schools by this fall.

The La Sierra Enactus team is based out of the university’s Zapara School of Business where Ocasio serves on the school’s advisory board of community and business leaders.

“As a member of the Advisory Board for the Zapara School of Business I’ve had a profound interest in the university’s SIFE team, or better known today as the Enactus team, particularly the team’s ability to develop outreach projects ranging from customized financial literacy programs to helping small business owners operate more efficiently,” Ocasio said.

“Given Jamaica’s lack of technology infrastructure and reliability with respect to Internet access, the Enactus team has provided a tool for public education to sustain ongoing educational efforts. We want to promote this technology domestically given the digital divide throughout many areas and United States territories,” he said.        

Enactus, previously known as Students In Free Enterprise, or SIFE, is a business-led international nonprofit that guides a network of university-based student teams in 36 countries. The teams develop entrepreneurial empowerment projects in local and international communities. Competitions on project scope and originality, judged by executives of some of the world’s most prominent companies, are held regionally and nationally, and culminate with a world cup event each year. La Sierra’s Enactus team has won an unprecedented seven national titles and two world cups. 

La Sierra Enactus, which won a regional championship berth this year and competed in the U.S. national competition May 20-22, included the Jamaica educational project in its annual report of project activities.

Ocasio, a contributing program sponsor for the Enactus Jamaica project traveled with the team in an observational role and noted their exemplary performance. 

“The students’ presentations and professionalism were nothing short of first class,” he said. “Observing the Enactus team in action firsthand presenting their newest technology transfer to the Jamaican ministry was incredibly impressive. Going forward, this agency will continue to be active within the Zapara School of Business and supporting its ongoing educational initiatives.”