15:51 PM

Two Professors Earn NSF Grant to Study Minority Entrepreneurship

Two Cal State San Marcos professors have teamed up to receive a grant from the National Science Foundation to explore what factors affect the development of entrepreneurs in minority communities.

The grant of $215,740 is notable in part because of its interdisciplinary nature. The awardees are Carly Offidani-Bertrand, an assistant professor of human development, and Paola Ometto, an assistant management professor. Ometto is believed to be the first tenure-track faculty member in CSUSM’s College of Business Administration to receive a NSF grant.

The grant will fund research to understand the development of entrepreneurial ventures in minority communities of color, as well as how marginalized individuals use entrepreneurship as a pathway for overcoming racial discrimination and socio-legal exclusion. The two professors also hope to focus on the challenges faced by entrepreneurs of undocumented status as part of a partnership with the CSUSM DREAMer Resource Office.

Offidani-Bertrand said she applied for the grant with Ometto because of their complementary experience – Ometto in business and herself in community research with undocumented/formerly incarcerated people.

“We are really excited to be awarded a grant that focuses on developing research capacity among faculty and students at minority-serving institutions,” Offidani-Bertrand said. “We are very grateful for this opportunity to engage with our community to generate knowledge that can be used to create future supports for aspiring entrepreneurs, as well as gives us resources to involve our students in applied research that will facilitate their growth.” 

CSUSM is one among more than 20 colleges and universities in 12 states and Washington, D.C., that received funding from the NSF through its Build and Broaden Program. It’s a $12 million initiative that focuses on supporting research, offering training opportunities and creating greater research infrastructure at minority-serving institutions such as historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and tribal colleges and universities.

CSUSM has been a Hispanic-serving institution, a U.S. Department of Education designation for institutions that have a Hispanic student population of at least 25%, since 2010.

Offidani-Bertrand and Ometto will use a comprehensive set of research methods, including focus groups, social network mapping and minority business owner interviews. They also hope to offer workshops, events and programing opportunities for entrepreneurial development in the local community.

“The literature on entrepreneurship has very few studies looking at minority groups,” Ometto said. “We think our research will be able to create case studies, tools and frameworks that will help bring diversity to the examples used to teach entrepreneurship and help minority entrepreneurs (who generally face more barriers to access startup capital, networking events, etc.) be successful in their endeavors.”