By Abby Loop
Baylor’s LAUNCH Innovative Business Accelerator is bringing the founder of a leading global and social enterprise organization to teach students how they can make a difference in their community.
Marlon Parker, founder of Reconstructed Living Lab (RLab) based in Cape Town, South Africa, will speak to Baylor entrepreneurship students at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Thursday in 103 Cashion Academic Center. Later, he will speak to an assembly of high school students at University High School in Waco. All Baylor students are welcome to attend the assembly. He will also meet with Baylor and Waco community leaders Friday to discuss poverty issues in Waco.
Dr. Gregory Leman, director of the business accelerator program, said Parker will talk about the purpose and impacts of his organization, which include community development and social innovation. Leman said he asked Parker to come to Baylor and offer ways to apply these activities and methods to the Waco community and those in need.
“I had a chance to see the work in Cape Town that was being done last summer, and it was very successful in helping young people who are coming out of poverty and who’ve been in tough situations,” Leman said. “His approach to this worked very well and I thought about the poverty that is in Waco and asked if he would speak at Baylor whenever he came to America.”
According to Parker’s website, he was also listed as one of the 100 World Class South Africans in 2013. He is an alumnus of President Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative and was selected as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader this year.
On RLab’s website, the organization shows the impact it has made by the number of people it has helped, with 871 jobs having been created, 185 businesses launched and 18,711 people trained for free in new fields. The organization is also present and active in 21 countries in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa.
Monica Vardeman, program manager for LAUNCH, said she believes Parker’s stories and advice will be a learning experience for students to understand what problems are significant in other people’s lives.
“It’s a great opportunity to get a perspective of what’s going on around the world,” Vardeman said. “He’s all about social transformation and students can hopefully get inspired to come do things here in Waco or in a place they care about.”