Vol­un­teering in Kenya last year inspired North­eastern Uni­ver­sity stu­dent Michael Behan to launch Njabini Apparel, a non­profit microen­ter­prise that employs dis­ad­van­taged and dis­abled women in the rural farming town to design and then sell clothing and acces­sories.

“If you can’t work on your plot of land, there really aren’t many ways to earn a steady income and sup­port your chil­dren,” said Behan, a junior who is pur­suing a busi­ness degree with a con­cen­tra­tion in social entre­pre­neur­ship and finance in the Col­lege of Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion. “This was a way to create jobs.”

The women who work for the Njabini Apparel design slip­pers made from hand-​​spun sheep’s wool and san­dals from recy­cled tires and leather, as well as hats, bags, wristlets and scarves. Behan orga­nized finan­cial lit­eracy pro­grams to edu­cate them on the impor­tance of saving and bud­geting.

In addi­tion to the business’s web­site, he hopes sales of the goods will expand throughout Kenya and on col­lege cam­puses across the United States.

In Jan­uary, the young human­i­tarian returned to Kenya to run Njabini Apparel on site and beginca a co-​​op with Flying Kites Global, a non­profit orga­ni­za­tion that strives to give the world’s most vul­ner­able chil­dren the tools they will need to suc­ceed.

Behan—whose inter­na­tional co-​​op was sup­ported by a Pres­i­den­tial Global Schol­ar­ship and an Office of the Provost under­grad­uate research grant—directed an out­reach pro­gram and helped manage an orphanage and pri­mary school run by Flying Kites, which receives a per­centage of each item sold by Njabini Apparel.

He began vol­un­teering for the non­profit in high school, when the orga­ni­za­tion was based in his home state of Rhode Island. Since then, his expe­ri­en­tial learning oppor­tu­ni­ties in Kenya have cul­ti­vated his pas­sion to use busi­ness prin­ci­pals to foster social change.

Behan hopes to return to Kenya for a second co-​​op with Flying Kites next year. “I’m pas­sionate about social entre­pre­neur­ship,” he said. “I know that’s what I want to do with my life.”