Mercy Corps Entrepreneurial Leadership Program Graduates 5th Cohort
What’s it like spending Halloween in Tunisia with Mercy Corps staff from around the world? As you might imagine, there aren’t a lot of costumes, but there is a lot of innovation. On October 31st, just outside Tunis, Tunisia, Impact Entrepreneurs co-founders Cindy Cooper and Carolyn McKnight graduated the fifth cohort of participants from our Entrepreneurial Leadership Program (ELP) with Mercy Corps. Each year, global Mercy Corps staff gather to receive training from Portland State University professors in business fundamentals, social innovation, and leadership effectiveness, culminating in the design of new business ideas to address social problems.
Nineteen participants from fourteen countries worked over four fast-paced days to develop and pitch new concepts to a panel of entrepreneurs, nonprofit professionals and academics. The result was four new social venture concepts, two in Tunisia, one in India, and one in Indonesia. In Tunisia, one initiative will focus on providing a safe environment for young women working as domestic staff, and the other on addressing unsanitary conditions caused by uncollected garbage. In India, a new venture will work to improve maternal health on tea estates, and in Indonesia, the focus will be on ensuring the health of breastfeeding infants. Participants also developed personal leadership goals, working together on plans to pursue leadership opportunities in their lives and career.
By training nonprofit staff in business practices and social innovation, Impact Entrepreneurs and Portland State University work with Mercy Corps to develop global managers who are comfortable navigating across multiple sectors. As the scale and complexity of global challenges grow, it becomes ever more important to develop leaders with the skills, resilience and capacity to create solutions that incorporate business, nonprofit, government and advocacy-based approaches to achieve the most effective solutions.
The sixth Mercy Corps ELP cohort launches in Tbilisi, Georgia in 2014, and it will be a real treat to see the business solutions they develop.