Program Connects U-M, MENA Students on Enterprise

Wednesday, October 25, 2017



The William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan is running an exciting new program that pairs University of Michigan undergraduate students with their peers in four North African nations to find entrepreneurial solutions to social challenges in the region.

Through the virtual exchange, U-M students at the Ann Arbor and Dearborn campuses will be teamed with fellow students in Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia. Together, the teams will develop and launch social entrepreneurship projects with the help of instructors, mentors, and successful entrepreneurs from Michigan and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

“After the Arab Spring in 2010, young people in this region increasingly turned to social entrepreneurship to address the challenges in their societies. Given the state of these economies and the upsurge of entrepreneurial interest, this program comes at an ideal time,” said Amy Gillett, vice president of WDI’s Education Initiative.

The unique co-curricular program will equip students with skills in entrepreneurship, team building, innovation and design thinking, cross-cultural communication, international business, problem solving, and critical thinking.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for students to work cross-culturally, forge new international connections, and gain exactly the type of 21st century skills needed to succeed in today’s global economy,” said Gillett.

The program, the MENA-Michigan Initiative for Global Action Through Entrepreneurship (M2GATE), will support three, eight-week cohorts, with the first beginning in January 2018. Each cohort of 128 MENA students and 64 U-M students will culminate in a virtual competition. Judges will look for scalable solutions that feature science, technology, engineering, and math – or STEM-based – innovations. The winners will have the chance to travel to Michigan to interact with entrepreneurs in Ann Arbor and Detroit, and pitch their projects to an expert panel for feedback and further development.

An informational session will be held on the Dearborn campus at 3 p.m. on Nov. 13 at the Talent Gateway Commons, Suite 285 Fairlane Center North (FNC).

U-M students selected for the program will attend an orientation meeting as well as a debrief and wrap-up session at the end of the eight weeks. They will be invited to watch lectures and participate in interactive discussions on WDI’s ExtendEd Learning Portal on six topics. They are: cross-cultural team building; communication skills; leadership development; introduction to entrepreneurship; design thinking and creative inquiry; and, creating a business model canvas.

The teams comprised of students from U-M and partner institutions in Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia will coordinate times for virtual group work and produce a pitch video as a final assignment. In all, students can expect to spend about 32 hours on the program over the eight-week time period.


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