UMD: A Globally Connected University

UMD-Summer: Nicaragua: Maryland Social Entrepreneur Corps (BMGT)

Granada, Nicaragua
Terms offered: 
Program Type: 
Credit Type: 
Minimum GPA: 

MSEC students using cookstove in NIcaragua

Join the Social Entrepreneur Corps (SEC) program in their mission to create positive impact in Latin America by empowering local communities through social innovations implemented in the most remote rural areas. This unique eight week study and internship program will teach you the basic principles of social entrepreneurship through courses, case studies, discussions, and hands-on, practical experience. You will work side-by-side with SEC development professionals and local field based entrepreneurs to develop empowering entrepreneurial business models in Nicaragua.  Take on this exciting opportunity to make a profound community impact while gaining in-depth knowledge of rural economic development work.Social Entrepreneur Corps (SEC) program headquarters are located in Granada, Nicaragua.  Field sites include communities in/near: Masaya and León.

This program is split into three distinct phases. You are required to participate in all three phases of the MSEC program and will be enrolled automatically once you commit to the program.

  1. On-Campus Pre-Departure Course: The MSEC program begins with a required 2-credit course taught at UMD on Wednesdays from 5:00 – 8:35pm from March 29th to May 10th, 2017.   The instructor is Sara Herald, Adjunct Professor in the Smith School’s Department of Management and Organization and Associate Director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship.  This interactive course will introduce you to the theory and practice of social entrepreneurship and its potential to transform communities.  Through lectures, discussions, case studies and dynamic group activities, you will learn about the destination countries and cultures and prepare for your summer fieldwork with local entrepreneurs.  Students from all three MSEC programs (Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Nicaragua) will be combined for this pre-departure course.
  2. In-Country Program and Fieldwork: You will fly to Managua on May 21st where you will participate in an in-country foundation building, language training, and technical preparation for your fieldwork in Granada. You will split into smaller Social Innovation teams of 6-8 students and travel with SEC staff to work on a variety of projects throughout rural areas of the country. Examples of projects include: surveying local communities about personal priorities and needs, creating promotional materials to draw attention to local artisans and products, designing educational campaigns to increase local awareness of the benefits of water purification and improved cook stoves, conducting promotional activities to assist women’s cooperatives, providing consulting to grassroot organization, implementing and improving financial literacy programs, and field testing new products and services. You will be accompanied by development professionals who will give you guidance in these projects. With your Social Innovation Team and SECorps Group Leader you will travel to your regional field sites, where you will spend three weeks in a homestay and engage in the first fieldwork segment of the program.  Mid-way thru the program, all Social Innovation teams will return to a central location for a few days to reflect, decompress and share best practices and lessons learned before completing a second round of fieldwork in the original field site. Throughout the program, your team is given the opportunity to invest funds in one or more projects, organizations or associations that you encountered during your fieldwork. You will present your funding decisions to Social Entrepreneur Corps field personnel and follow-up with a report on the social impact of your investment. View a more detailed breakdown of the in-country portion of the program.
  3. Post-Program Course & MSEC Forum: Upon returning from the three destination countries, all MSEC participants will come together for a 1-credit course to reflect upon their experiences in-country and apply that new knowledge and perspective to their lives as UMD students.  Furthermore, students will present the results and impact of their in-country consulting work in an evening forum open to the university community, parents, donors, and the Maryland entrepreneurial community.

You must be in good academic and judicial standing and you must not have any registration blocks to participate in this program. The minimum GPA for this program is listed above.

All UMD freshmen, sophomores, and juniors are eligible to participate in this program. You may also participate as a senior if you will be enrolled as a UMD student through in the end of the fall 2016 semester (seniors graduating in May or August 2016 will not be considered).

A high level of maturity and a willingness to live and work in a challenging developing country environment are required. Previous experience in business, international development and Spanish language are helpful but not required. Please note that you will be expected to use Spanish language while in homestays and while doing fieldwork. If you have no prior Spanish language experience, you may need to do additional independent study in order to prepare for in-country portion of the program.

After you commit to the program, Education Abroad will enroll you in the following courses for a total of 9 UMD credits:

  • On-campus pre-departure course (spring semester):
    • BMGT 398E/AMST 399Z: Individual Study in Business and Management - Maryland Social Entrepreneur Corps I (2 credits)
  • In-country program and fieldwork (summer):
    • BMGT 398: Individual Study - Social Entrepreneurship Internship (3 credits)
    • One of the following:
      • EDCP 386: Experiential Learning (3 credits) - for junior and seniors OR
      • BSOS 288M: Special Topics in Behavioral and Social Sciences (3 credits) - for freshmen and sophomores
  • Post-program debriefing course & MSEC forum (fall semester):
    • BMGT 499G/AMST 498D: Advanced Business Topics - Maryland Social Entrepreneur Corps II (1 credit)

The courses you complete during this program will count as resident credit.

*Please note that participation in all three program components (spring, summer and fall) is mandatory.


The Maryland Social Entrepreneur Corps is an approved experiential learning course for the Innovation and Entrepreneurship minor at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. Combined with the 6 credits of Foundation courses, the 9 credits earned through the MSEC program can complete the minor.

All Smith Minors are to be completed over two years (four semesters) and are designed for incoming junior students in their chosen major. Admission to the Innovation and Entrepreneurship minor is competitive and not guaranteed for MSEC students. However, any current or prospective MSEC student that meets the below criteria is encouraged to apply.

  • Complete at least 45 credit hours prior to application to the minor, however 60 credit hours will have to be earned and included on their transcript by the start of Fall classes
  • Have an overall GPA of 2.0 or better
  • Have declared and be accepted into a Major by the start of the fall semester in the year for which they are applying
  • Complete an application and meet the minor selection criteria: Overall/Total Cumulative GPA, including of previous institutions; and demonstrated commitment to growth and development through the study of business or innovation and entrepreneurship concepts.

The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Minor applications are due mid-February each year. Go to the minors website for more information and please contact with any questions.

You will be living with local Nicaraguan host families for most of the program. On some occasions, you may be provided accommodation in hotels or apartments while conducting fieldwork. Take a look at the video below for a look into one student's homestay in Nicaragua:

Costs listed are for summer 2016. The updated budget for summer 2017 will be published when available.

Application Fee $50
Billable Costs
Billable costs are charged to your student account. They are due based on the Bursar's payment schedule. Be sure to check your statements when they are available.
Education Abroad Fee $500
This fee is charged to your account when the application status changes from "Accepted" to "Committed." This fee includes Education Abroad services including registration, billing, advising, risk management, and pre-departure orientation.
International Health Insurance $40
Tuition $3,115
This fee is charged to your UMD account upon course registration. This fee includes: Tuition, in-country transportation, course related activities, meals, and teaching services.
Housing Fee $800
This fee represents the housing provided during the program.
Out-of-pocket Costs
Passport $140
Roundtrip Airfare (estimate) $900
Optional Activities/incidental expenses $600
Optional trip cancelation/interruption Insurance (estimate) $50

Please refer to the following resources for more information on funding study abroad

Scholarships that you may be eligible for include:

PLEASE NOTE: All University of Maryland study abroad programs are financially self-supporting and, therefore, subject to cancelation due to low enrollment.

Jennifer Precht is the Associate Director of Programs in Education Abroad and she is your primary point of contact for the MSEC program. Contact Jennifer with questions related to the MSEC program model, in-country fieldwork, course registration, program logistics or scholarships. For general questions or assistance with applying, contact EA Short-term Programs.

Sara Herald is the Associate Director for Social Entrepreneurship at the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship and an adjunct faculty member in the Robert H. Smith School of Business.  She teaches the MSEC pre-departure and return courses. Contact Sara with any questions about the course or to discuss how the program fits into a Smith major or minor.

To speak with an MSEC program alum, contact Darien Dixon or Matt Ambrogi. They are both 2017 MSEC student ambassadors and 2016 participants on the MSEC program in Nicaragua.

Greg Van Kirk is co-founder and president of Social Entrepreneur Corps (SEC) and Community Enterprise Solutions and will serve as guest lecturer during the pre-departure course at UMD. A former investment banker and Peace Corps volunteer, Mr. Van Kirk is an Ashoka Globalizer Fellow and Schwab Foundation “Social Entrepreneur of the Year” for 2012 (Latin America). His work in developing innovative responses to long-standing development challenges has been universally recognized for its groundbreaking methods and lasting impact.

Alyssa Hopun is the Social Entrepreneur Corps Country Director in Nicaragua. She first developed interest in community development work through a pair of small business consulting volunteer trips to Panama with Global Brigades while studying at Miami University.  In 2013, she graduated with degrees in International Studies and Spanish and concentrations in Latin America and International Development. Alyssa first began working with SEC in 2014 as a Field Leader in the Dominican Republic. Since then, she has transitioned to Nicaragua, where for the past two years she has been working with Community Empowerment Solutions and Social Entrepreneur Corps, first as a Field Consultant and now as Country Director. In 2016 Alyssa was selected as one of Miami University's "18 of the last 9" honorees, a distinction recognizing exceptional young alumni. 

As a part of this program, you will:

  • have the opportunity to make a direct and measurable contribution to rural development work in Latin America
  • gain first-hand experience with the challenges and opportunities inherent in creating successful social entrepreneurship models, implementation strategies and tactics
  • develop skills in applying business solutions to real world social issues
  • live in a homestay with local Nicaraguan families
  • advance your Spanish language skills
  • engage in work that spans beyond the classroom and makes a positive social impact

Maryland Social Entrepreneur Corps (MSEC) In-Country Program Details

The eight week program is divided into six segments: pre-arrival, orientation and foundation building, initial fieldwork, reflection and analysis, follow-on field work and conclusion, delivery and presentation. Below we have summarized program sequence. All countries will comprise these components, the timing might be different.

Pre-arrival, participants are provided with all itineraries, orientation, safety and project specific information. As well, per the “Social Innovation Team Breakdown,” participants are divided into groups of up to ten participants based on language capabilities, area of study, age, school and interests. Each Social Innovation Team (SI Team) is tasked with assigned and optional projects and as well funding to invest in projects that they learn about and deem compelling as they travel to and work in different parts of the country.

Orientation and Foundation Building
Upon arrival in country, all participants spend the first segment (two weeks) of their time in the headquarters site participating in orientation sessions, living with homestay families, studying Spanish intensively, participating in development discussions, visiting nearby development and relief organizations and participating in project content and technical training. The focus of this first orientation and foundation building segment is to provide participants with the necessary knowledge and skills for the field work segment and to begin outlining and working on pre-designated projects. This “ramp up” segment is essential to ensure that participants can work as effectively as possible with our development professionals and constituents in the field. Upon completing this two week course, Social Entrepreneur Corps interns are deemed “Consultores Comunitarios” (Community Consultants/CCs) and work both individually and in groups within their SI Team in distinct regions of the country. CCs work under the guidance and leadership of experienced Social Entrepreneur Corps expatriate and local field personnel to effectuate positive change on specific projects for pre-determined clients in order to be able to complete designed activities and present specific deliverables.

Initial Field Work
Upon conclusion of the first segment in the headquarters site, each SI Team travels to different satellite work sites, staying with additional homestay families, in group living settings and/or in hotels. Each group visits up to two distinct satellite work sites during the first segment of field work (approximately two weeks). The idea is that working in smaller groups is more productive and that each SI Team should have the opportunity to experience the different cultures and development focuses within different regions. As well, as each participant brings different skills and perspectives, this strategy ensures that our constituents in the field can take advantage of working with as many different individuals as possible. At all times each SI Team is accompanied by two local development professionals whose role it is to facilitate success in the field. SI Teams work with Peace Corps Volunteers, local community service organizations, local businesses and local Social Entrepreneur Corps entrepreneurs. All activities and logistics are structured with anticipation.

Reflection and Analysis
At the conclusion of this first segment of field work all participants return to the headquarters site for approximately five days to decompress, revisit their homestay families, take additional Spanish classes in some countries, share best practices, problem solve and work on projects.

Follow-Up Field Work
Subsequent to the reflection and analysis period, SI Teams return to the field and visit two additional satellite sites for approximately two weeks working in the same manner as during the first segment of field work.

Conclusion, Delivery and Presentation
Finally, all participants return to the headquarters site for the final days of the program. At this time projects are completed and presented, Spanish evaluations are conducted and participants stay with their homestay families one last time and they might stay in a hotel context too. SI Teams recommendations are presented and funding decisions and allocations are made.

Term Year Application Deadline Admission Notification Program Start Program End
Summerterm 2017 03/21/2017 03/11/2017 05/21/2017 07/14/2017