ANN ARBOR—For the second year in a row, young entrepreneurs from the Middle East and North Africa are participating in month-long fellowships at the University of Michigan to learn first-hand how to build their businesses.
The program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, enlists U-M experts and southeastern Michigan organizations to work with the fellows.
“This year’s program is even bigger than previous programs,” said Barbara Peitsch, who directs the program, which is based at the U-M Institute for Social Research. “We are excited because we are involving entrepreneurs from Libya for the first time. The program offers professional development opportunities for participants, and facilitates people-to-people connections that promote better mutual understanding and respect.”
Participants from Egypt, Israel, Libya, the Palestinian Territories and Tunisia include small business owners, business educators, representatives of nongovernmental organizations and government officials involved in supporting small business development.
As part of the program, participants will take part in classroom sessions on entrepreneurial ecosystems, business planning and leadership development with U-M marketing, communication and entrepreneurship experts. (View photos of the participants during a classroom session on ISR’s Facebook page.)
Participants also will be placed in two-week internships in local businesses, including Google and Menlo Innovations in Ann Arbor, and Compuware, Green Garage and Detroit Venture Partners in Detroit. The internships were arranged by the Arab American Women’s Business Council, one of U-M’s local community partners.
After spending three weeks in Michigan, the group will travel to Washington, D.C., to participate in the State Department’s Professional Fellows Congress to network with other young leaders in their fields and refine the plans they will implement when they return home.
To follow up on the connections established here, Peitsch will bring two groups of U.S. hosts to the Middle East and North Africa starting in September 2013 for two-week “reverse exchanges” that will include workshops, organizational visits and onsite consulting.
ISR is one of 17 U.S.-based nonprofits and universities that are hosting foreign professionals from more than 50 countries and territories. For more information about the State Department program, visit http://exchanges.state.gov/citizens/profs/professional-fellows.html.
For information about the ISR program, visit www.isr.umich.edu/cps/project_bpeitsch002.html.
By Diane Swanbrow