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Business students turn project into sustainable global business

April 8, 2009

The classroom just got a lot bigger for Colorado State University graduate students Jacob Castillo and Michael Callahan. In less than a year, their project for the Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise master's degree program in the College of Business has gone from the chalkboard to international business.

The company they created, called PowerMundo, LLC & SAC, is now operating in Peru.

Healthy and affordable technologies

PowerMundo manages a global distribution network for healthy and affordable technologies to empower people in developing countries. The company's goals are to improve people's lives, create local employment opportunities and conserve natural resources. The company sells items such as LED lights, small solar panels, solar radios and other products that can save people money and improve people's health.

(Photo at right: Graduate student Michael Callahan with the mayor of Compone, Peru.)

"There are hundreds of sustainable products and billions of people who could live better if they only had access to the products," said Jacob Castillo, co-founder of the company with fellow graduate student Michael Callahan. "The GSSE program has given us the business acumen to start an international company and to recognize sustainable business opportunities."

Perfecting supply chain model

Through their work in the graduate program - and with the help of Professor Ken Petersen - PowerMundo earned a $45,800 grant from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance to perfect a supply chain model for the business.

"The students will continue to build upon their understanding of international logistics by actually testing several strategies," said Petersen, who teaches supply chain management at Colorado State.

The company has also received a $15,000 seed grant from Colorado State's Clean Energy Supercluster, a model for more quickly taking innovative services and products developed at the university to the commercial marketplace.

"PowerMundo has had terrific support from the GSSE masters program," Petersen said. "The new Green MBA program acts as an informal incubator for the company and allows them to get to the point of a viable startup much, much faster."

(Photo at right: Jacob Castillo, co-founder of PowerMundo, visiting a shop in Peru.) 

Leveraging resources

Callahan said the company has taken its cues from Colorado State's land-grant mission to provide service through outreach to the community.

"You have all these resources within the university and other like-minded individuals, the clean energy business cluster in northern Colorado, CSU's Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory," Callahan said. "We are leveraging all of these resources."

The resources within Northern Colorado, the training they received in business school and the financial support from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance will enable PowerMundo to continue making headway and attract additional funding.

Full news release

The College of Business started the Master of Science in Business Administration in Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise program in fall 2007 to teach students entrepreneurial, sustainable approaches to address great global poverty, health and environmental challenges. The program ultimately could help some of the world's four billion people who live on less than $3 a day with creating their own sustainable solutions and businesses. 

Contact: Emily Wilmsen
Phone: (970) 491-2336