SUNY Morrisville professor spends winter break in Africa, shares global lessons in his classroom

Published date
11:30 a.m.

MORRISVILLE, N.Y. — During his winter semester break, SUNY Morrisville Associate Professor Christopher Scalzo shared his business and entrepreneurial expertise overseas, helping farmers in Kenya, East Africa.

The three-week trip, offered through the International Executives Service Corps (IESC), a USAID foundation partner in the Farmer to Farmer program, focused on conducting a value chain analysis of green bean farmers working with Fortune SACCO, a savings and credit cooperative in Kenya.

At the end of the trip, Fortune SACCO received a strategic road map to help farmers with financing and training needs based on discussion with farmers, exporters, agro-dealers and brokers.  

“The experience was important to farmers to help with growth of farms and to Fortune SACCO, which was looking for a new model to help with essential needs in farming,” Scalzo said. 

Volunteer work overseas is not new to the Liverpool resident, who is a member of the Fulbright Specialists, comprised of experienced U.S. professionals and scholars who conduct two- to six-week, project-based exchanges at host institutions across the globe. 

While his global philanthropy has been a catalyst for companies and farmers in developing nations, it also has been important in the SUNY Morrisville classroom, where he has taught for 19 years.   

“The students gain valuable insight from these trips through case studies used in the classrooms, which help them understand topics I teach and gain experience in a different environment,” he said. “It helps them gain a better understanding of business models and strategic planning, along with operations.”

Scalzo’s future plans include another trip to Kenya, with students, so they gain firsthand experience solving local business problems that farmers and organizations face.  

“These trips will help students in their future career, providing an experience that broadens their perspective about business, culture and the world,” he said. 

Scalzo, who has vast experience as a former consultant handling budgeting and forecasting financials for various companies and 25 years in academia, has been sharing his expertise overseas for nearly a decade. 

There was a trip to Kenya to help a soy and maize-producing company enhance its operations, and another to Lebanon to assist several companies in the organic food industry with creating a business model and conducting financial analysis. He also ventured to Nanjing, China, where he taught macroeconomics at Nanjing Institute of Industry and Technology (NIIT).   

During a trip to Honduras, where he helped dairy farmers with financial analysis of farms and operations, he was recognized with the President’s Volunteer Service Award, a prestigious national honor which lauds volunteer service.