Social Entrepreneurship Program Projects
PetacThe University of St. Thomas Social Entrepreneurship Program (SEP) is a student-operated co-curricular service-learning program that provides interest-free start-up loans to impoverished individuals to launch income-generating businesses around the world. By empowering entrepreneurs and helping them become more self-reliant, SEP helps promote the principles of freedom, democracy and social justice.

Over the years, SEP’s MicroCredit Program has been recognized as one of 20 “Featured Commitments” at the Clinton Global Initiative University. The program serves to further UST’s mission as a Catholic institution of higher education offering students the opportunity to combat global poverty, human rights abuses and environmental degradation.

The Pakistan Project
In the Spring of 2009, the UST Social Entrepreneurship Program (SEP) and the Hashoo Foundation, began collaborating to launch the Pakistan project. As a group, these organizations supported a honey production and commercialization development plan fittingly called "Plan Bee” in Pakistan’s northern regions Chitral and Kaghan.

SEP has financed 100 women in the region with $13,000 USD in loans for the production of honey. The project organized the women beekeepers into small peer groups and provided them with training in beekeeping; ensuring quality honey through improved practices and processing facilities; and also facilitated marketing connections for the sale of honey at higher competitive prices locally and internationally.

The African Projects
SEP finances an agricultural cooperative of HIV positive women in St. Patrick’s Parish in Lilongwe. These 65 women are often single mothers or widows who are now involved in food and cloth production. SEP supports new agricultural ventures that diversify their current farming practices. Through a $6,500 USD revolving fund, hope, dignity and empowerment are returning to the cooperatives’ members.

Working closely with Worship Power House in Lusaka, SEP administered a revolving fund of $2,800 USD that benefitted 12 women with AIDS in creation of a variety of self-sustaining businesses. More than 80 percent of the fund has been repaid, and the project has successfully come to a close.

The Yucatan Project
SEP partnered with a local nonprofit organization, Ayuda para Ayudar, to work with 53 Mayan communities on the Yucatan peninsula. With a revolving fund of $15,000 USD, SEP supports women and families through their production of honey, handicrafts and small-scale agriculture. Local women grow habanero peppers and make salsa at a plant built with the help of the Mexican Government and our local field partner.
Non-loan Project
Partnership with Centro Fox
In November 2010 the UST Center of International Studies and SEP formed a partnership with Centro Fox, a nonprofit non-governmental organization (NGO). Centro Fox was founded by former Mexican President Vicente Fox Quesada and based in San Cristobal, Guanajuato, Mexico. The collaboration with Centro Fox focuses on: 
  • Coordinating service learning opportunities 
  • Developing study abroad programs 
  • Creating think tank of experts 
  • Institutions and universities within the field of microfinance 
  • Establishing an annual poverty forum 
  • Summer certificate program for high school and college students

Partnering with Centro Fox provides SEP with the ability to work with other universities around the world.

The Kiva project was SEP’s first endeavor in 2007-2010. The program distributed loans through, a nonprofit offering individuals and organizations like SEP the opportunity to provide funding to micro-entrepreneurs around the world through an online database. With the assistance of Honorary SEP Board Member Dr. Muhammad Yunus and UST President Dr. Robert Ivany, the program was officially launched and our first loan was given in January 2008.

The UST Kiva Project distributed more than $11,750 USD in loans with an initial investment of $5,000 USD.


MCP KIVA Loan Summary (2007-2009)   Number of Loans







Eastern Europe



Latin America



Middle East








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Established in 1981, the Center for International Studies is Houston's oldest degree-granting center of international higher learning. International Studies prepares students for careers in international business, law, politics and public service. In addition, the Center promotes understanding of international relations, cultural differences and the benefits that come from cooperation within the human family.
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