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CBA Alumna Receives Fulbright Award


Jessica CusterJessica Custer, a recent CBA grad, has been selected by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (FSB) to receive a grant under the Fulbright U.S. Student Program for the 2010-11 academic year.

Custer, who graduated in December 2009 with degrees in Accounting, International Business, and Spanish, was selected for the award based on her Honors Project titled “Utilizing Social Business to Develop Sanitation Markets for the Poor in the Peruvian Amazon”.

Social Business uses a business approach, rather than charity or government spending, to solve a social need.

“My project is based on the utilization of a business model to create sustainable solutions that are capable of driving economic and social development in underdeveloped areas,” notes Custer. 

The project investigated the cultural, operational, and economic feasibility of establishing a social business to provide sustainable sanitation services to the impoverished community of Floating Belen in the Peruvian Amazon.   The members of this peri-urban community live in floating housing on a flood-plain.

Custer will travel to Iquitos, Peru in August and will spend the next year pursuing further research and work on the project.  Her ultimate goal is to prove the feasibility of the business model and find an investor(s) interested in being involved in a pilot project.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to continue my work on this project and in the field of social business”, says Jessica.

Dr. Stephen Hallam, professor of management, who was one of three faculty members who reviewed Custer’s Honors Project notes, “Jessica became excited about the concept of Social Business and proposed a project that will not only provide these people with more sanitary water, but also create a profitable business.”

“Her approach improves the health of these Peruvian people while producing a profitable business that turns human waste into energy and fertilizer,” Hallam continues.  I’m proud of how she has taken the concept of a Social Business and put it to such good use and I’m excited that this Fulbright grant will enable her to turn this concept into reality.  Congratulations Jessica and full speed ahead!”