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Teaching entrepreneurship in South Africa

On her first co-op, Kate Pellegrino helped teach a course on entrepreneurship and co-led a new class on banking and financial planning as part of an initiative that gives poor students free access to business school.

And she did it all a few thousand miles away, in Cape Town, South Africa.

“It was an excellent first experience,” Pellegrino said. “I couldn’t have imagined a better experience.”

The third-year psychology major with minors in social entrepreneurship and international affairs opted to complete her first co-op abroad with the Tertiary School in Business Administration, which aims to foster a new generation of entrepreneurs living in South Africa’s poorest slums.

“I absolutely loved it,” said Pellegrino of her four-month co-op, which ran from January through April. “I was immediately given a lot of different responsibilities and tasks because my office had only three other full-time staffers.”

Pellegrino’s work with TSiBA comprised a number of short- and long-term projects with the university’s Ignition Centre, a training and mentoring facility for small-business owners and entrepreneurs from townships outside Cape Town.

For one big project, she developed the materials for a training course in business planning and financial management. She also oversaw online marketing for the Ignition Centre, using social media and a blog to highlight upcoming programs.

TSiBA is also home to entrepreneurship programs run by the D’Amore-McKim School of Business’ Social Enterprise Institute. Through the institute, which is directed by Dennis Shaughnessy, an executive professor of entrepreneurship and innovation, Northeastern students work with local start-ups to develop ventures that can help lift South Africans out of poverty.

After returning to Northeastern’s campus in September, Pellegrino began looking for her next co-op. She hopes to stay in Boston and work for a larger company, which, she said, would give her a new perspective on the working world.

“My first co-op provided me so many opportunities to learn about myself and about what my career might be,” Pellegrino said. “And I am excited to see what the next opportunity has in store.”

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