Thursday, August 27, 2009

Nigeria Bound!

I'm excited to be a member of the inaugural cohort of the Collaboration to Strengthen Young Professionals in Business Management and Global Entrepreneurship Program (I agree that they should probably work on an acronym). Hosted by the Institute for International Public Policy, where I was a 2004 Fellow, and funded by the U.S. Department of State, the program is an international exchange between young professionals in the U.S. and Nigeria. A bit about the program from the website:
"The exchange will consist of three components: training, experiential learning and cultural enrichment. Areas of training include international economic trade and relations, globalization and small business development, business management and marketing, establishing sustainable global partnerships, and other related topics. The overall goal of the exchange is to increase the entrepreneurial and business management skills of U.S. and Nigerian participants to enable them to have successful business ventures in the future. U.S. participants will be trained in Abuja, Nigeria’s capitol and the University of Benin in Benin City, Edo State. The Nigerian participants will receive training in Washington, DC, Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA, and Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, OH."
While I fancy myself a social entrepreneur and am passionate about cause-driven work, the problems society faces today are multi-faceted. The AIDS epidemic, global economic recession, and poverty are exceedingly complex issues. Businesses support innovation, provide jobs, and drive the economy. They are necessary stakeholders for solving serious and complex community issues. My experience in the nonprofit world suggests organizations rely too heavily on grant funding to sustain their mission-driven activities. More and more, ventures are recognizing these untenable circumstances and developing sustainable business models, such as for-benefit organizations, which integrate social and environmental aims with business approaches. I have been inspired by the Nonprofits Assistance Fund's Social Entreprise Network, GOOD magazine, and numerous other examples of powerful, profitable, and life-changing work. I have some ideas about what I'm hoping to create but am excited to learn a lot more through professors, academic materials, and local business people and entrepreneurs throughout this program.

I'll be posting updates, as mentioned in my previous post, about my time in Nigeria, but I have also lined up a great slew of guest bloggers for my time away to keep you up to date on great Millenial effors and nonprofit work in Minnesota. Check back often and please keep in touch!

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