Scott Anderson

WDI Hosting Global Summit on Educating Entrepreneurs

The intersection of international development, government agencies, entrepreneurship trainers, microlenders and academics is an extremely crowded one.

The William Davidson Institute hopes to help direct some of that traffic by convening the Global Summit on Educating Entrepreneurs, bringing together developers of many stripes to coordinate with and learn from one another. The WDI-managed conference is set for June 16-17, 2011 at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Early bird registration has already started for the summit, which will gather thought leaders in international entrepreneurship, educators involved in designing and implementing successful programs, and U.S. governmental and multilateral donor agencies with a focus on entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa as well as Sub-Saharan Africa.

One of the sparks for hosting the inaugural conference came from WDI’s involvement in providing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) business training. From 2004-06, through a grant from the U.S. State Department, WDI trained more than 100 entrepreneurs from throughout Morocco. The organization also is currently providing entrepreneurship training to 60 entrepreneurs a year in Rwanda as part of Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women project.

WDI Executive Education Director Amy Gillett said recent initiatives, such as Goldman Sachs’s, have started a movement. Foundations and other funding agencies have realized that entrepreneurship training is an effective and measureable way to promote development and help alleviate poverty, she said.

“Because of our experiences designing and delivering entrepreneurship programs in emerging markets, we realize how much goes into creating a quality program,” Gillett said. “There are many organizations around the world working to promote entrepreneurship, but there has not been much benchmarking or sharing of best practices. There’s a need for a forum for sharing information and knowledge.

“This conference is unique in that it is focused on creating the world-class practical, professional entrepreneurship training programs for SME managers.”

In a timely addition to the program given recent events in the Middle East, Theodore Kattouf, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Syria, and President and CEO of AMIDEAST (America-Mideast Educational and Training Services, Inc.) has signed on as a conference speaker. AMIDEAST (America-Mideast Educational and Training Services, Inc.) is a private nonprofit that provides English language and professional skills training, educational advising, and testing services to hundreds of thousands of students and professionals in the Middle East and North Africa. Also speaking at the conference is Professor Maha El Shinnawy, who runs an entrepreneurship center at the American University in Cairo.

Steven Koltai, Senior Advisor, US State Department’s Global Entrepreneurship Program (see his video interview with NextBillion here); and David Barth, Director of the Office of Education; USAID; and Professor Ted London, Director of WDI’s Base of the Pyramid initiative, are three other conference speakers. Other speakers include development professionals from the U.S. government, faculty from the University of Michigan and other leading academic institutions, directors of global entrepreneurship centers, international non-profits, and development agencies. A list of speakers can be found here.

The conference will feature opportunities for attendees to build networks with other organizations, and establish partnerships that advance entrepreneurship. The agenda includes recruitment and selection; curriculum planning;; how to ensure participants leave with the most effective business plan possible; and tools for monitoring and evaluating program success. A panel focused on social entrepreneurship also has been added to the program.

The early bird registration fee is $450. Click here to find out more and to register, and email with any questions.