September 10, 2021

A Florida College Removes Barriers to Entrepreneurship Education

By: ELIstaff

BCEx logo


The Broward College Entrepreneurship Experience (BCEx) is an ambitious framework designed to expand ideation and value creation among the college’s 63,000 students. 

In addition to creating thousands of entrepreneurs, the bigger goal is to create a culture shift that instills an entrepreneurial mindset across Broward College—impacting faculty, staff, and students. BCEx uses the Ice House model to introduce entrepreneurship as the self-directed pursuit of opportunities to create value for others, whether in their business or personal lives.

“When we explain our vision and mission to faculty, they are excited, whether they teach business and entrepreneurship or reading or philosophy,” said Imran Siddiqui, who heads the BCEx initiative. 

Under the leadership of Senior Vice President Dr. Mildred Coyne and Broward College President Gregory Haile, Siddiqui chose the Ice House curriculum as a critical component of BCEx when he started working at Broward College in 2019. He felt students, faculty, and staff would gravitate toward it—which is exactly what has happened over the past two years. 

Some receive the Ice House curriculum in structured settings like facilitator training sessions and business courses. Others might gain exposure to it less formally through a book club or community presentation. Each year, Siddiqui estimates that between 500 and 1,000 Broward students engage with the Ice House content to some degree.

Structured Supports for Entrepreneurship

Participants in BCEx receive support through six main strategies: 

  1. Campus accelerators and events 
  2. Student learning
  3. The Innovation Hub
  4. LaunchBC, the BCEx business accelerator
  5. The J. David Armstrong Jr. Student Venture Fund
  6. Partnership opportunities with Broward College

Now that the campus community knows BCEx as a successful program for lowering the barriers to entrepreneurship, “we’ve developed a reputation on campus and in the community,” Siddiqui said. “Faculty make referrals to students to get involved with us. The adoption is very fast once folks get involved and see the work that we’re doing. It’s not a hard sell.”

Attracting Interest in Less Formal Ways

But Siddiqui knows that leading with messages about entrepreneurial thinking might scare off some of BCEx’s target audience. Not surprisingly, many have a traditional notion of entrepreneurs as business wizards from backgrounds of Ivy League privilege. 

This is especially true for the Broward UP program, President Haile’s landmark program, which offers free educational opportunities, workforce training, and support services within targeted local neighborhoods of historically lowest education attainment and highest unemployment rates. Faculty designed Broward UP to put more Fort Lauderdale residents on a path toward a certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree—and the partnership with BCEx offers Broward UP students the chance to hone their knowledge and successfully launch their own businesses and cultivate their entrepreneurial mindset. 

Before the budding entrepreneurs in Broward UP dive into business content, they’re encouraged to intentionally pause and reflect using the eight life lessons in an informal, friendly setting. “We’re very conscious of who we use to facilitate that content and the style of the facilitation,” he said.

“The response to entrepreneurship in Broward UP has been very positive,” he continued. “It’s almost like therapy, in a way, for some people. You’re thinking about how you talk to yourself. What you view as your potential. What hurdles you put in your own way. It’s deeply reflective content, and folks don’t get to engage in that very often, so it’s pretty powerful. It’s one of my favorite things about my job.”

Next Steps for Entrepreneurial Thinking on Campus

Broward College recently promoted Siddiqui to Associate Vice President of BC Eduventures, the college’s revenue-generating direct-support organization. In the new role, he will seek creative solutions to drive revenue—an opportunity for him to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the budget challenges facing higher education institutions like Broward as state budgets tighten. 

However, Siddiqui will continue to lead BCEx and advocate for Ice House to become more integrated into campus life. For example, he will continue to offer opportunities for faculty to attend Entrepreneurial Mindset Facilitator Certification Training from ELI. Also, he is currently pursuing approval of a new curriculum that would use the eight life lessons in a mandatory life skills course for incoming first-year students. 

“Our biggest lift is getting people to stop thinking about entrepreneurship in traditional ways,” he said. The relatable, compelling Ice House narrative is instrumental in supporting that effort.