MENA Students to Travel to U-M for Pitch Event

Monday, November 5, 2018


Before participating in WDI’s M²GATE Program, University of Michigan sophomore Jackie Spryshak said she had never met anyone from Egypt. Over eight weeks this summer, Spryshak worked with and got to know her teammates from Egypt as they collaborated on their winning social enterprise project as part of the M2GATE virtual exchange program.

On Nov. 14, her Egyptian teammates will travel to Ann Arbor for a pitch competition at the Ross School of Business where they will meet for the first time. In all, 12 students from the MENA region will travel to U-M – six from Egypt and three each from Morocco and Tunisia. Four of the U-M-based students come from the Ann Arbor campus and one attends the Dearborn campus. (Click here to RSVP to attend the event in person. It also will be streamed on Facebook Live. Click here to RSVP on Facebook.)

“I am so proud that our team worked so hard and I am thrilled to be able to meet these students in person,” she said. “I am in awe of the creativity and drive behind my teammates, and can’t wait to see them.”

Spryshak and her teammates from Egypt were among the more than 500 students who participated in the WDI-organized program MENA-Michigan Initiative for Global Action Through Entrepreneurship (M²GATE), which paired undergrads from five Michigan campuses with peers in Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia to find entrepreneurial solutions to social challenges in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Working virtually, teams developed social entrepreneurship projects and accompanying pitches over an eight-week period with the help of instructors, mentors, and successful entrepreneurs from MENA and Michigan.

At the end of each of the three cohorts, the program hosted a virtual competition with judges naming winners based on  scalable solutions featuring science, technology, engineering, and math – or STEM-based – innovations. The winning team from each cohort will participate in the pitch competition at U-M.

At the Nov. 14 event, each team will have about 5-7 minutes for their presentation before a panel of five judges that includes Ross School entrepreneurship professors and startup consultants. The event begins at 3 p.m. in the Ross School Colloquium on the sixth floor. It will be live streamed; details will be provided later. Light refreshments will be served at the conclusion, around 4:30 p.m.

Here are the videos from the three winning teams about their proposed social enterprises.

The Stevens Initiative is an international effort to build global competence and career readiness skills for young people in the United States, the Middle East and North Africa; it is funded by several public and private donors including the U.S. Department of State and the Bezos Family Foundation.

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