At the end of each semester, many Loyola students eagerly sell back their textbooks in hopes of receiving a little bit of extra cash. A group of students, however, have been gathering their textbooks to give to universities in Cambodia to help the country improve its business education and, subsequently, its economic strength.

This group of three students is part of Enactus, a group of Loyola business students who are using the power of commerce to do good in the world. Their particular project, called Books Building Business (BBB), was just one of Enactus’s many undertakings. Over winter break, the students working on BBB received an experiential learning scholarship that allowed them to travel to Cambodia and Vietnam to see their efforts at work.

The project has been collecting business textbooks since the fall of 2010. They executed a mass shipment of more than 1,100 textbooks to The National University of Management in Phnom Penh and The Center of Khmer Studies in Siem Reap.

Austin Nugent, project manager of BBB, says the idea came to him his sophomore year after spending a lot of time in the stacks.

“I would see all these books there. People in other parts of the world don’t have access to this information,” says the senior finance, economics, and international business major. “They don’t have access to books that help them in society.”

Nugent approached Clifford Shultz, PhD, a professor in the Quinlan School of Business, to help them figure out which country could greatly benefit from these books and to help the students network in that region.

They chose Cambodia because of a recent genocide that demolished all the educational institutions and resources. From 1975 to 1979, the Khmer Rogue, the ruling Communist party in Cambodia, targeted teachers and all other intellects, seeing them as enemies in their plan to shift to an agrarian society.

Dr. Shultz says that while the country is slowly rebuilding, the middle class needs to learn basic business skills to continue to grow.

“You need this middle class to emerge, and a middle class can’t emerge unless people have business skills,” Dr. Shultz says. “In the wake of a genocide where the middle class was completely eradicated, people need to learn basic accounting, basic finance, marketing, and other business skills.”

Nugent, along with juniors Sam Abbassi and Gabi Wilewska, the two other students who made the trip, went to the universities and saw firsthand the deficiency of Cambodia’s resources.

“The greatest challenge facing universities in developing nations is the lack of resources to educate,” says Nugent. “Somebody has to recognize a problem and progress towards the solution.”

The Loyola students were able to meet with the librarian at the Center for Khmer Studies, who Dr. Shultz says was “moved to tears” when BBB made their donation.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to see the fruits of their labor,” Dr. Shultz says.

Learn more about Enactus and Books Building Businesses by watching this episode of the Quinlan Minute.