Research and UN Goals

Research and UN Goals

Rohrer College of Business research and practice aligns with U.N. goal to eradicate poverty

The United Nations this month celebrates the 30th anniversary of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

While the U.N.’s goal hasn’t yet been met, Rowan University researchers in the Rohrer College of Business’ School of Innovation and Entrepreneurship believe the eradication of poverty is fully reachable, and that entrepreneurship can help.

Susana HeadshotDr. Susana Santos, an associate professor of Entrepreneurship and associate director of the Rowan Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, was inspired to study the connection between starting a business and breaking an often-generational cycle of poverty by experiences in her native Portugal.

“While I was lucky enough to be born into a middle-class family, many of my classmates were from very poor neighborhoods,” Santos said.

Santos in 2022 published two key papers that connect entrepreneurship and breaking the bonds of poverty, “The Technologization of Entrepreneurial Processes: A Poverty Perspective,” and “Entrepreneurship as a pathway into and out of poverty: a configuration perspective.”

Key in the struggle to escape poverty is limited access of the working poor to basic resources like health care, education and good paying jobs but Santos’s research finds that entrepreneurship, for some, can be a way out.

“Some of the research we developed is in how we can expand the opportunity horizon,” Santos said. “Entrepreneurs make a job for themselves and, over time, can hire an uncle, a son, a daughter, others around them.”

From theory to practice

Santos, who published on “Gender, poverty and entrepreneurship” in 2021, said the goal of her research isMike Dominic and Creatina Phillips putting it into practice. Working with colleagues from the RCB, she and others this fall launched a program dubbed “Accelerate South Jersey: Focus Camden.”

Created for residents in one of America’s poorest cities, the program is led by Dr. Michael Dominik, a senior lecturer in Entrepreneurship, and in its first year involves 14 aspiring businesswomen in a range of new ventures including fashion, food service and community agriculture.

A grandson of immigrants who settled in Camden and founded businesses, Dominik said the first group of Accelerate South Jersey participants are attending an “education bootcamp” for six Saturdays this fall in which they study such topics as target marketing, business costs, projecting revenue and securing financing.

Dominik, who was born in Camden and lived part of his life there, said one of his grandfathers was a tailor in the city and his father opened and ran Atlantic Cleaners on West Mount Ephraim Avenue.

“I have a passion for this city and believe entrepreneurship can work here because it lets a person control their destiny,” he said.

Among the first class of Accelerate South Jersey participants, Creatina Phillips said lessons from the program are helping her launch a plus-sized women’s fashion business in Camden.

“The whole idea behind it is to bring peace, body positivity and acceptance to the plus-sized community,” said Phillips, who grew up in the city and seeks to open a Camden storefront.

Until then, Phillips said she’s focused on e-commerce ( and special event sales, including at Rowan’s Homecoming celebration Oct. 22.

“I grew up in Camden and my feeling is, why not bring back something that needs to be in our cities?” she said.

Dr. Eric Liguori, founding head of Rowan’s School of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, said a core focus of the SIE is connecting researchers, practitioners, policy makers and students.

“The combination of applied research with community-based programming is powerful, and I’m excited to see this impact amplified by our student body as they begin engaging with these startups,” he said.

Next semester, students from the Rohrer College of Business and the Ric Edelman College of Communications and Creative Arts will partner to further support the Accelerate South Jersey start-ups in such areas as business planning, marketing, photography, graphic design, copywriting and editing.