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Article Title

BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN ENTREPRENEURSHIP EDUCATION AND SMALL RURAL BUSINESSES: AN EXPERIENTIAL SERVICE-LEARNING APPROACH

Abstract

This paper provides theory-based practical applications and concepts underlying the development of experiential service-learning projects for university students majoring in retailing and hospitality management. The goal of the service-learning projects was to enhance students’ entrepreneurial identity and entrepreneurial management competencies through the development of comprehensive business sustainability plans and makeovers that integrate competitive, brand-building, and experiential marketing strategies for small rural businesses in the Main Street program. The service-learning projects were also designed to enhance student entrepreneurial self-efficacy, create awareness of opportunities in rural communities, and improve the entrepreneurial performance of rural businesses. Assessments of the service-learning projects confirmed their success in enhancing (a) students’ entrepreneurial competencies and (b) competitiveness, brand image, and attractiveness of the local business sector.

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