Social Entrepreneurship in Small Island States

The course exposes students to the unique dynamics of social entrepreneurship in Dominica, which is an island located between Guadeloupe and Martinique. Dominica is a small island developing state (SIDS). The course focuses on the challenges entrepreneurs face in countries with limited resources, a narrow economy base, limited product and market diversification, low economies of scale and a high dependency on international trade. It highlights the inescapable need for social ventures for sustainable growth and development. Read a UVa Today article about students’ experiences from April 2016.

The 2019 Dominica experience will take place May 12th - 25th.

course and credit

LPPS 4550 / 5550 or COMM 4589; 3 credits

This course presents how local resources and policy are used to promote social entrepreneurship to sustain growth and economic activity. Although Dominica and the Caribbean region offer an abundance of renewable resources such as wind and sun, the development of these resources for energy has been limited to non-existent.

This is a multi-disciplinary experience blending field visits to offer students exposure to a diversity of local enterprises with an emphasis on those with successful and innovative social components. Visits will include organic farms, ocean fishing cooperatives, local manufacturing facilities (coffee, tea, essential oils, etc.), sustainable tourism, and cargo transportation. In addition to site visits, guest lectures will be offered by Dominican social entrepreneurs as well as government officials.

Students will not only learn from numerous live case studies but will also be invited to help problem solve and use critical thinking skills to explore alternative approaches in addressing local challenges with entrepreneurs and government representatives.


Students will be living in a eco-friendly resort in Dominica called Sunrise Farm Cottages located in Richmond, Castle Bruce, a village rich in culture and natural beauty. The facility also features a restaurant that specializes in local cuisine using produce of an on-site organic farm as well as a swimming pool overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.


Program Director: Bevin Etienne,

Originally from Dominica, Dr. Etienne has always been very interested in supporting, promoting and developing social ventures in Dominica and thewider Caribbean region. In 2002, Bevin founded a renewable energy company called the Dominica Sustainable Energy Corporation to research and develop renewable energy resources in Dominica.

Dr. Etienne teaches entrepreneurship at the Batten and McIntire Schools.  His spring course (PPOL 4720) focuses on open source technology and how it can address most of the critical problems facing society such as sustainability, inequality, the cost of technology, and open access to knowledge.

The global experience:

Some snapshots from our Spring 2018 program group