“Choosing to be extraordinary”
The Entrepreneurship & Empowerment in South Africa (EESA) program is one of the most powerful experiences offered by the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Center.
For six weeks, UF students serve as consultants to disadvantaged entrepreneurs in the townships surrounding Cape Town, South Africa. Students take a hands-on approach in helping these entrepreneurs make their ventures sustainable, and help reverse the crippling impact apartheid had on South Africa’s growth.
Marsha Joseph (BS ’16) participated in EESA in Summer 2016. Learn more about her experience and the benefits of the EESA program.
(The EESA application deadline is Feb. 1. Apply today).
Q: What motivated you to participate in EESA?
Joseph: EESA is no ordinary study abroad program; it’s something else altogether. I chose EESA because I desired to do something that was meaningful and impactful, something that was bigger than me. I can still easily say that it was one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made. Choosing EESA is choosing to be extraordinary.
Q: Describe the disadvantaged entrepreneurs you consulted.
Joseph: My clients inspired and motivated me more than I helped them. Yes, their economic conditions need to be systematically improved, but their joy and resilience are nothing shy of revolutionary.
Q: What was your most memorable experience from your time in South Africa?
Joseph: I’m 21 years old, and I can sincerely say that I made more memorable moments in the six weeks that I spent in South Africa doing EESA than the past 20 years combined. However, the winner would be when I climbed Table Mountain. I had never done a mountain hike before. The journey was terrifying, exhausting, but also very rewarding.
Q: What impact did the EESA experience have on you both personally and professionally?
Joseph: Prior to EESA, I had never been outside of Florida other than my native country, Haiti. EESA has changed me in so many ways—some of which I’m still discovering every day. It revealed a part of me that I didn’t know existed. I believe I’m better today because of EESA.
Q: Why would you recommend EESA to UF students?
Joseph: Don’t be afraid about the work that EESA will require. It will definitely take you out of your comfort zone, but great things never come from comfort zones! You won’t know how much you have to give until you’re giving it. You’ll meet amazing people, eat great food, and experience life in a whole new way.