Social Impact Meeting Entrepreneurship
The Office of Inclusive Innovation and Entrepreneurship will address the income inequality gap for overlooked communities by helping community members learn about wealth creation, innovative thinking and community stewardship that will result in social impact.
The office will work with both UT Austin students and nontraditional students along with community leaders, government, private enterprise, and NPO’s to create strong networks, upon which new for-profit sustainable ventures can be launched that will uplift communities.
True innovation creates inclusivity because it removes barriers. Innovation calls for the best ideas to come forward regardless of who or where they are from.
Inclusivity results in innovation. When you foster an inclusive culture, innovation will be the natural by-product of exchanging and building on ideas.
Innovation cannot be stopped it can only be rejected or redirected. The best way to direct innovation is to embrace it and be part of the evolution. Those who resist inclusivity and innovation will become irrelevant.
How We’ll Make a Difference
1. The Office of Inclusive Innovation and Entrepreneurship will address these three forms of capital by fostering a culture of conscious and servant leaders who will become the executives of tomorrow and the catalysts for generational wealth.
2. We will create programs and initiatives that will bring college-age students into the new economy by partnering with high tech/high growth sector companies to engage our students and provide an opportunity for them to work within their walls.
3. We will foster system thinkers and teach them about building their network so that it does not just benefit them, but also their community.
4. We will leverage the University of Texas’s presence to serve as a convener in the community to provide a platform that students alone might find challenging.
5. We will serve opportunity youth and non-traditional college age students who demonstrate the capacity and potential to serve their community by learning entrepreneurship and launching ventures.
6. We will be intentional about creating initiatives and programs that uplift women and overlooked communities into entrepreneurship and leadership roles.
7. We will work within the University’s robust entrepreneurial ecosystem to plug our students into the many activities and opportunities for seed funding.
8. We will help partner and create a region-wide collegiate and corporate mentorship network for entrepreneurs working with neighboring universities and our business community.
9. We will teach our students how to not only to create wealth but also how to manage and invest their money so that it grows and can provide a platform for other opportunities to serve their family and their community.
10. Finally, we will teach our students the process and practice of social entrepreneurship, and how to create sustainable ventures that respect the community and the environment.
Businesses, Professionals, and Community Leaders all have a place in our ecosystem.
We need advocates in business and government who will lend their time, resources and energy to help train and foster a new generation of leaders.
We need financial donors, investors and institutions to get behind this movement and help cultivate, train and empower our youth towards launching sustainable ventures.
We need friendly policies to be implemented that support the growth of new high growth ventures from underserved founders.
We need the business community to commit to not just opening the door for our students but investing in them over the long term so they are ready to lead our tomorrow.
We need to invest in early childhood entrepreneurial training from kindergarten through grade 12 in underserved communities so that they can see themselves building future businesses.
To be truly innovative, you must allow all to freely speak up. When employees feel engaged, with a sense of ownership, they will start innovating. This in turn drives company profits upward. This is what this next generation wants. The ability not just to be free to move about, but knowing they are doing so in a place that is theirs.
We aim to help foster young talent that can go into companies and drive innovation, but also the talent that can create their own ventures and address this disparity head on.
What is the Theory of Change?
Through the creation of institutional initiatives and policies that help address the inequality gap in all forms, but specifically with education and economics, we can help address and solve for our disparity because of a couple of factors.
In recent years it has become clear we can’t address poverty and economic disparity without talking about capital–who makes it and how it’s made. More specifically, we need real discussion around how to give those from lower economic backgrounds the skills and opportunity to create value and aggregate wealth. Skills related to building social capital and financial wealth and capital are transferable, but we have not been intentional about transferring these skills to historically overlooked communities. University of Texas at Austin President Greg Fenves has made it a university-wide goal to create pathways for economic development and upward mobility for our students and our community.
Inclusive Innovation and Entrepreneurship was launched in the fall of 2018 by Dr. Leonard Moore, vice president for diversity and community engagement. Dr. Moore wanted to create an initiative that will serve as a bridge and an example of how both private and public interests can work together to address the disparity and inequity wealth gap between communities. Moore recruited Rubén Cantú, whose career has spanned local, state, national and international circles to serve as director of Inclusive Innovation and Entrepreneurship. His background includes working with private corporations, nonprofits and government agencies.
Meet our current leader
Rubén Cantú, Executive Director
Ruben is a first-generation college graduate raised in East Austin as a son of immigrants. He holds a B.S. in Radio-TV-Film from the Moody College of Communications and an M.S. in Technology Commercialization from the McCombs School of Business, both from The University of Texas at Austin.
He has founded various startups and as a social entrepreneur, his ambitions are focused on establishing a platform through media and entrepreneurship that allows society to reflect on its condition and spur progressive change.
Why Get Involved Now
There has not been a time in our University’s history where both movements of innovation and inclusivity were leading the conversation. Innovation is defined by the merging of two great ideas or concepts. Inclusive Innovation is the future of innovation because it:
- Democratizes the process of innovation,
- Allows us to see blind spots and areas that previously were overlooked, and
- Allows the pathway for wealth to be created in new unseen areas and communities, thus allowing for generational wealth.