Fordham Business Development Collaboratory Partners with Bronx Businesses

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The Fordham Business Development Collaboratory aims to help students get involved in Bronx businesses.

Molly Egan, Contributing Writer

Fordham may be located in the Bronx, but on the Rose Hill campus, it can be easy to forget about the city outside the iron gates. The Fordham Business Development Collaboratory aims to bridge that gap. The club, founded by Rich Shrestha, FCRH ‘22, gives Fordham students the opportunity to interact with the Bronx by helping its local businesses flourish. 

Fordham Business Development Collaboratory, or FBDC, provides consulting services to local businesses free of charge, while also helping Fordham students build their own business skills in the process, said Shrestha. Primarily, they offer four services, divided into four different sections of the club: compliance, finance, marketing and web development. 

One of the team’s leaders, Marisa Garvin, GSB ‘23, explained that even though the club, founded in June 2020, is relatively new, they’ve still managed to make a lot of progress in helping the Bronx. The club has already assisted 17 Bronx businesses, said Garvin.

One of the club’s biggest successes was helping a local business owner with his startup. He came to the club with a business idea, and club members were able to help him plan out and set up his business. Once he had a starting place, he was able to go off on his own and run the business however he wanted, said Garvin. Additionally, they helped a woman turn her Instagram jewelry sales into a business. They were able to help her with marketing and even created her a website, Garvin explained. 

The club’s founding during the COVID-19 pandemic also helped them find new businesses to help. With the shift to a primarily virtual world throughout 2020, the club helped businesses that, prior to the pandemic, had had little virtual presence. They assisted Bronx business owners in developing websites and social media presences so that they could continue to function while physically closed, said Garvin.

In addition to helping the businesses, the club helps Fordham students from both the Gabelli School of Business and Fordham College at Rose Hill apply the skills they learn in class, said Shrestha. While the club’s business focus makes it seem like something primarily for Gabelli students, Shrestha said he wants the club to have involvement from all students. 

Shrestha is an economics major at Rose Hill, and he explained that the club benefits not just Gabelli students but also students interested in subjects like web design, communications and Spanish. Having people with experience in web design helps with marketing for businesses, and Spanish skills are essential for communicating within the Bronx, explained Shrestha. The club is open to anyone and makes use of any skills that members can bring to the table.

As of right now, the club has around 40 staff members, but they’re looking to grow, said Garvin. She said that while they do feel they have a presence on campus, they “don’t have as large a presence as [they] would like.” 

This year, they’re focusing on growing the club, both within Fordham and in its reach across New York, said Garvin. While the club was initially founded to help businesses in the Bronx, they want to expand their services across all five boroughs of New York. 

Ultimately, the club is about bridging gaps — whether between Rose Hill and Gabelli students or Fordham and the Bronx. Through events like the FBDC Days of Service, where they go into the Bronx to do things like trash pickups, the club is helping nurture the Bronx community while building its own community, said Shrestha. 

Although Shrestha said he thinks the word “diversity” is overused, he admits that it does describe the club well. “The best experience and value you can add is having people from all different walks of life and backgrounds, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” he said.