Social Enterprise: Empowering Cross-Cultural Teams

By Mira Ruder-Hook

It has been a pretty phenomenal summer. This past year I have been exposed to people of various backgrounds and experiences, many of whom were involved in entrepreneurship. They all shared different insights, but one common theme emerged: there is not one path to entrepreneurship. We are all different and in the process of cultivating these differences great, unique ideas will manifest. Since there is no “right way,” figure out what pulls you and pursue it.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. Maybe it is my international studies and French background, but learning about social entrepreneurship in other places around the world really pulled me.

To pursue this interest, I joined the MENA-Michigan Initiative for Global Action Through Entrepreneurship Program (M²GATE), organized by the University of Michigan’s William Davidson Institute. U.S. students team up with college students in the MENA region to collaborate virtually on a social entrepreneurship project. My team was comprised of four Moroccan college students and a fellow Wolverine (as we University of Michigan students refer to ourselves).

Last week our team presented our final pitch to the M²GATE Committee, and we were incredibly proud with what we came up with. Our new business idea, however, was only one of the many positive takeaways from this program. Participating in M²GATE gave me the chance to learn from and work with a team of Moroccan college students, share and iterate our ideas, and implement our solution.

The conversations that we had about the feasibility of our ideas enabled us to think through our ideas. I was impressed by the dedication of my teammates. Their commitment to the project motivated me to contribute as much as I possibly could to our team’s output. Second, we decided to focus on Morocco, which enabled me to learn more about Morocco (my teammate and fellow Wolverine Adam, is even headed to Morocco later this month to meet our teammates in person). Third, we came up with a real solution.

To conclude, it was the people that made this an amazing experience. We communicated with each other well because everyone was willing to share, critique, and be open-minded to different opinions, enabling us to continuously generate ideas. Earth-shattering ideas, no, but from these conversations, viable ideas that solved the specific problem that we had intended to address did emerge. To view the problem our team identified, watch the video in this post below.

And the best part? It is not over yet. We all agreed that we want to continue working on our idea over the next year to grow it into a business and make it eligible for funding.




M2GATE partner logos (from left to right) USAID, U.S. Department of State, the Stevens Initiative and The Aspen Institute

The Stevens Initiative is also supported by the Bezos Family Foundation and the governments of Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

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