Michigan Ross MBAs Drive 4,000 Miles Across The Country Helping Small Businesses


Three teams of Michigan Ross Full-time MBA students are busy re-defining the classic summer road trip.

In teams of four students each, they’re traveling 4,000 miles across America, visiting 12 small businesses and entrepreneurs to help them develop solutions to their most pressing challenges.

The program,called Open Road at Ross – Powered by Ford, is an action-based social impact adventure that is now it’s fourth year at Ross. The program was developed by Michigan Ross students as a way to assist visionary entrepreneurs who are making a positive impact in their communities across the country to scale their efforts.

Each week on the road trip, students consult with a different entrepreneur in a new part of the country on a business opportunity or challenge they are facing. After spending time with the business owner, employees, and community members, the students will develop a suggested solution or plan of action for the businesses.

The event is organized by Ross MBA students and supported by Business+Impact at Michigan Ross, the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, and the Ford Motor Company.

Here are the student teams traveling this year, and where across the U.S. you’ll be able to find them:

Members: Katerina Athanasiou, Minsoo Lyo, Catherine O’Donnell, and Hana Viswanathan

Team LOVA will be partnering with entrepreneurs working to build resources and uplift people throughout the Appalachian region.

“We want to support places and spaces that are oftentimes neglected by public attention, yet face urgent challenges,” the team said. “Everything from the opioid epidemic to environmental impacts of coal mining.”

The team is visiting Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation in Detroit, Mich., Appalachian Headwaters in Lewisburg, W. Va., Black Sheep Bakery at Hemphill Community Center in Neon, Ky., and another location TBA.

From the Road
Affordable Coworking in Detroit

Read about Team LOVA's work with the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation in Detroit.

Read more

Team MPower
Members: Brooke Burton, Chloe Hull, Gautam Kandlikar, and Fernando Palhares

Team MPower brings backgrounds in finance, technology, strategy, and social impact, to small businesses that are the dynamic engines of growth and opportunity.

This team began at Klassic Mobile Gardens in Detroit, Mich., before traveling to The Chattery, in Chattanooga, Tenn., The Root Cafe, in Little Rock, Ark., and T-Town Tacos in Tulsa, Okla.

From the Road
Building Community with The Chattery in Chattanooga

Read about Team MPower's work with The Chattery in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Read more

Members: Ritesh Kumar, Allie Morbitzer, Kathy Tian, and Ivy Wei

Team RAIK are moved by their interest in helping immigrant-owned businesses become successful in a competitive business arena.

They are visiting Bandhu Gardens in Detroit, Mich., Red Calaca Studio in Charlotte, N.C., Wake up Atlanta, in Atlanta, Ga., and Tulsa Newcomer Services, in Tulsa, Okla.

From the Road
Let Me Tell You An Immigrant's Story

Read about Team RAIK's work with Red Calaca Studio in Charlotte, N.C.

Read more


Read blogs from the teams on the road

More about Open Road at Ross