WDI’s Virtual Exchange Program Focus of Impact Report
Thursday, March 14, 2019
WDI designed an innovative virtual exchange program using modern technologies to give students an exciting real-world learning experience.
The latest WDI Impact Report, “Building Bridges Through Virtual Collaboration,” chronicles how WDI utilized the latest virtual learning tools to bridge the gap between countries, communities and cultures and bring students together solve real-world problems while also honing the 21st century skills they need to excel in the modern workplace. (You can read a “flip book” version of the report here.)
The MENA-Michigan Initiative for Global Action Through Entrepreneurship program – M²GATE for short – brought together more than 400 students from five Michigan university campuses and their peers in Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia to find entrepreneurial solutions to social challenges in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
“M²GATE graduated more than 400 students in five countries and deeply touched their lives,” said Amy Gillett, vice president of Education at WDI and academic director of M²GATE. “For many, the program was transformative. The impact report explores this in detail and serves as a valuable resource for other institutions contemplating a virtual exchange.”
For the program, all teams worked virtually to develop social entrepreneurship projects and accompanying pitches over an eight-week period with the help of instructors, mentors, and successful entrepreneurs from MENA and Michigan. WDI believes entrepreneurship is a crucial catalyst of economic growth and an effective way to cure society’s ills, which is why it was the focus of the program.
At the end of each of the three cohorts, the program hosted a virtual competition with judges naming winners based on scalable solutions. The winning team from each cohort then participated in a Nov. 14 pitch competition at the University of Michigan.
M2GATE is supported by theStevens Initiative, which is sponsored by the US Department of State and administered by the Aspen Institute. The Stevens Initiative is also supported by the Bezos Family Foundation and the governments of Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.
“The Stevens Initiative’s virtual exchange programs foster meaningful cross-cultural interactions and relationships while also honoring the legacy of Ambassador Stevens,” Gillett said. “We were privileged to play a role in advancing this mission with the M²GATE program. ”
This is the third impact report in an ongoing series that detail the long-term impact WDI is having in certain sectors or geographies. The first WDI Impact Report, “Improving Business Education in the Philippines,” examined the Institute’s contributions to the five-year STRIDE project that focused on strengthening the science, technology, research and innovation capacity on the island nation.
The second WDI Impact Report, “Positive Change Through Actionable Metrics,” followed the work of the Institute’s Performance Measurement & Improvement group while pilot-testing a new framework in Brazil, Nicaragua and Peru designed to increase the impact of small, inclusive businesses and their distribution networks.