Ryan Good and his fellow UF students visit Haiti to assist local entrepreneurs
Ryan Good, far left, and his fellow UF students visited Haiti to assist local entrepreneurs through the Entrepreneurship & Innovation's Center Entrepreneurship and Empowerment Program.

Student Spotlight: Ryan Good

Ryan Good, a candidate in the Hough Graduate School of Business’s Master of Science in Entrepreneurship Program, recently returned from Entrepreneurship and Empowerment in Haiti. The experiential learning program—based out of Warrington’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation Center—brought students to Port-au-Prince for a week to assist local entrepreneurs with their ventures.

Learn about Ryan’s experience in Haiti, and how participating in this impactful program aligns with his career goals.

Name: Ryan Good
Hometown: Overland Park, Kansas
Program: Master of Science in Entrepreneurship (The Thomas S. Johnson Program)
Student Organizations/Activities: Graduate Student Council, Geography Department Representative (past position) Tropical Conservation & Development Student Group, Communications Chair (past position)

Why did you choose to attend UF?
I didn’t come to Gainesville intending to study business. I’m also enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Geography, and I first learned about UF through connections in that department. It was obvious early in my graduate school search that UF was a comprehensive school with strong programs in just about everything.

Why did you decide to pursue the Master of Science in Entrepreneurship?
As I worked in my other graduate program, it became clear to me that there was a skill set I was lacking: How to function in a basic business context. I don’t think I’m likely to start my own business, but the mechanics of how that happens was something I wanted to understand.

How has your time at Warrington impacted you?
Before starting the MSE Program, most of my coursework, training, and job experience had been in environmental and conservation fields. Warrington has exposed me to a part of the world I’ve never worked in before, and I’m more well-rounded for it.

Why did you participate in Entrepreneurship and Empowerment in Haiti?
My career goals are to work in international development, using entrepreneurship as a tool to help people get out of extreme poverty. This program was an applied example of exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life.

What were your first impressions of Haiti?
My first thoughts were feeling welcomed by everyone we met. Port-au-Prince is hectic and crowded, but we were surrounded by kind and helpful people.

How is Entrepreneurship and Empowerment in Haiti making a difference?
The program is very focused. Each team of students works with a single Haitian entrepreneur. Such a narrow focus allows everyone to get to know their client as a person, and, hopefully, to identify ways to make an immediate and measurable impact on their business.

What were some of the specific tasks you worked on with local entrepreneurs?
My group’s client makes high-end leather sandals by hand, but he is having trouble obtaining materials and building capital. We worked with him to formalize his bookkeeping, explore new material suppliers, and work towards implementing a wholesaling operation.

Why should UF students get involved with Entrepreneurship and Empowerment in Haiti?
It’s an excellent chance to learn hands-on about entrepreneurship in a context very different from Florida, and to make a real difference in an entrepreneur’s business.

How has this experience affected your global perspective?
I lived in East Africa for about three years and have also been lucky enough to travel to a few dozen countries, but I’ve never been somewhere like Haiti. The fact that a country with so many economic and political challenges could exist in the figurative shadow of the United States was sobering, but the everyday innovation people use to respond to those challenges was one of the most impressive things I’ve seen anywhere on the planet.

Tell us about your experiences living in Africa.
After I graduated from college, I had an internship at an environmental non-profit in Nairobi, Kenya. I’ve traveled to Tanzania four times to learn Swahili and study sustainable employment schemes that are environmentally safe.

What are your current career plans?
I’d like to work in international development in either an academic or a non-profit setting. My ideal job would be one in which I’m able to design and implement training programs to help people living in extreme poverty start and manage sustainable businesses.

What advice would you give incoming MSE students?
Enroll in GatorNest as early as possible. The real-world experience will be useful at any stage, but getting applied practice in entrepreneurship early on will help in just about every other class and program.

Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.
I love spicy food. When I see my parents, my dad and I always try to outdo each other by ordering the hottest thing on the menu, which has resulted in some very painful meals over the years.

How do you spend your time when not studying?
I like playing racquetball, going to the beach, and listening to live music.

If you had a million dollars, how would you spend it?
First, I’d invest in our Haitian client’s business. I’d use the remaining balance to buy into or start an NGO and create for myself the exact job I want to have.