Charles Rand, founder of a number of start-up companies and a leader in both for-profit and nonprofit organizations—including a micro-financing program in Indonesia and several consultancies in which he provided essential assistance for community revitalization, management transitions, resource development and strategic planning—has been named executive director of the Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center at the University of Baltimore's Merrick School of Business. The center, now in its seventh year, focuses on developing the next generation of innovators and helping to sustain existing enterprises. Since its inception, the center has reached more than 2,500 members of the business community, including regional businesses, nonprofit organizations, and college and high school students aspiring to be entrepreneurs.
School of Business Dean Darlene Smith said Rand brings a wealth of real-world entrepreneurial experience to the director's position, and will leverage that experience to make the center an engine for exciting new and growing businesses.
"It's an ideal fit," Smith said. "Charles knows the ins and outs of not only launching a start-up but providing it with a foundation from which it can grow and flourish. He knows what works and what doesn't in terms of small-business management, investment and so on. In a way, we are expecting him to treat the EOC as a small business as well: Its 'work product' will be the grounded, intelligent people who want to run their own companies, and need the guidance and skills necessary to make their dream a reality."
"It will be my responsibility to ensure that the EOC emerges as a recognized catalyst for economic growth at the same time that it strengthens student engagement and the academic standing of the Merrick School of Business," Rand said.
Smith pointed out that in Baltimore and hundreds of cities like it across the country, self-employment and small businesses are becoming the norm; in turn the expertise needed to lead a start-up is increasingly called for among business schools.
"Every year we are seeing more students who want these skills, and we are here to make sure that the demand for entrepreneurial expertise and innovation is met," she said. "Small businesses employ millions of Americans, and their payrolls are measured in the billions of dollars. Not only that, but nonprofits are exploring entrepreneurial ventures to enhance their abilities to serve their clientele. Now more than ever, the Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center is essential to our success in teaching business and supporting innovative ventures, from the fundamentals to the finer points. We want to help entrepreneurs succeed."
Rand brings 20 years of entrepreneurial leadership, organizational design and program development experience to the center. He founded four organizations, including a commodities import/export firm trading primarily in petrochemical resins, polymers and waxes; a manufacturer and wholesale distributor of furniture and tabletop items; an information clearinghouse for fixed-income institutional investors; and a nonprofit serving hundreds of recreational and competitive rowers in New England. He has served in leadership and board roles at for-profit and nonprofit organizations throughout the Eastern United States and Canada, engaged individual clients in values-based legacy planning and facilitated workshops for nonprofit boards.
Rand holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Mount Allison University (Canada) and an M.B.A. in finance from Bentley University. He also holds an executive fundraising certificate, and has completed coursework toward a doctorate in community economic development from Southern New Hampshire University. For that institution's Applied Research Center, he served as chief author of the research paper Community Investment Barriers: A Primer for Institutional Investers.