The SOAR Initiative

Shrivastava Family Makes Gift to RISE Program in Support of Refugee and Immigrant Entrepreneurs

The SOAR Initiative

An inclusive entrepreneurship training and support resource for community members

The SOAR Initiative provides a holistic model for startups and empowers individuals who do not currently have adequate access to entrepreneurship training opportunities.

Organized by the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Costello College of Business at George Mason University, the SOAR Initiative represents: 

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Startup approach empowering underserved communities to develop an entrepreneurial mindset
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Opportunities for community-building and innovative engagement with local businesses
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Access to entrepreneurship, mentoring, and credentialing possibilities
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Roadmap to successful small businesses, career paths, and quality of life outcomes

The SOAR Initiative includes programs designed for aspiring entrepreneurs who are:

  • Refugees and Immigrants: this program focuses its support on aspiring entrepreneurs from refugee and immigrant backgrounds and provides insights on how to start a small business locally. The program also gives participants access to the entrepreneurial ecosystem and network within the Mason community. 
  • Currently in a Low Socio-Economic Status: this program engages with participants to help evolve their skillsets from an employee approach to an entrepreneurial approach to establish their own business. 
  • Living within Rural and Emerging Communities: this program works with community anchor institutions to develop a training program that assists local small business owners in becoming competitive assets within their community's emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem. 
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SOAR Initiative Programs

The RISE Program

The Shrivastava Family Refugee and Immigrant Success through Entrepreneurship (RISE) program is focused on training, mentoring, and providing access to networking opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs from refugee and immigrant backgrounds. This program is made possible through the generous support of Sumeet Shrivastava (MBA '94), and in partnership with Lutheran Social Services National Capital Area (LSSNCA) Resource Center. 

The program aims to facilitate the transformation of individuals, families, and local economies to enable them to move from a survival- focused lifestyle to thriving at all levels. Individuals wishing to participate in the program must be referred by LSSNCA. Download our flyer to learn more.

Learn more about RISE program instructor Crystal Fickers.

The RISE program is also seeking volunteer mentors. Learn how to participate here, or contact  


Sumeet Shrivastava, MBA ‘94

"Folks who are coming from very difficult situations are already showing some of the core attributes required of entrepreneurs – courage, resilience, and expertise from their prior lives. We can help them get a quicker start into that part of their journey here and help them succeed.” 

- Sumeet Shrivastava (MBA '94), RISE Program Donor