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WDI To Assemble Experts for June Conference on Entrepreneurship Training

5/16/2011 --

Global leaders will share best practices in promoting entrepreneurship as a way to help alleviate poverty in emerging economies.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.— The William Davidson Institute (WDI) will convene a global conference June 16 on how to plan, deliver, and assess world-class entrepreneurship training programs in emerging markets. The Global Summit on Educating Entrepreneurs will be hosted at the Ross School and is expected to draw 300 attendees from around the world.

The summit will bring together leading thinkers in the field of international entrepreneurship; experienced educators who have designed, tested, and delivered successful programs, and U.S. governmental and other multilateral donor agencies who have declared entrepreneurship development a priority. Other participants will include international development agencies, international non-profits, and micro-lending institutions.

"Entrepreneurship programs, and training in particular, have made significant strides in the emerging markets over the past three years," says WDI Executive Education Director Amy Gillett. "This conference will facilitate discussions about how to deliver world-class entrepreneurship programs. We will focus on programmatic and curriculum approaches for successful entrepreneurship development in Muslim countries. The conference will also touch upon entrepreneurship subject matter and guidelines for non-Muslim African nations."

Gillett says recent initiatives, including Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Women, have started a movement. Foundations and other funding agencies have realized that entrepreneurship training is an effective way to promote development and help alleviate poverty, she says. President Obama stressed entrepreneurship in a 2009 Cairo speech and mandated that the U.S. would nurture it in Muslim countries.

The U.S. government hosted a summit on entrepreneurship in April 2010 to identify how to deepen ties between business leaders, foundations, and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world. At that summit, the State Department 's Global Entrepreneurship Program (GEP) was introduced to highlight the administration's commitment to use America's entrepreneurial culture to advance entrepreneurship in emerging markets and developing countries.

WDI has a long history of equipping leaders of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with business training to foster their growth. When the institute was founded in 1992, some of its early activities were entrepreneurship training in Eastern Europe and deploying students to work with entrepreneurs in those former Soviet-bloc countries.

From 2004-06, under a grant from the U.S. State Department, WDI trained more than 100 entrepreneurs from throughout Morocco, including a cohort of 25 women from the handicraft sector. WDI also has provided leaders from 25 SMEs in Europe with scholarships to attend its 10-day, mini-MBA programs.

In addition, WDI is providing entrepreneurship training to 60 Rwandan entrepreneurs per year from throughout Rwanda as part of Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Women project. To date, the institute has trained 150 Rwandan women in the program. WDI also offers up to three years of counseling, mentoring, and support after the women graduate from the program.

"Because of these experiences, we realized how much goes into preparing and delivering a quality program," Gillett says. "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 best practical, professional entrepreneurship training program for SME managers."

WDI Executive Director Robert Kennedy says this summit is the first of its kind.

"All of these development agencies are aware of each other's activities, but there has been little coordination," he notes. "The conference is a great opportunity to bring in development organizations, NGOs, and others to see how we can build a whole ecosystem of organizations and get them to work together."

The conference will feature keynote presentations and several breakout sessions. There also will be opportunities for conference attendees to build networks with other organizations and establish partnerships that advance entrepreneurship.

Those interested in curriculum development will learn from leading entrepreneurship thinkers from around the world, with a focus on the Middle East and Africa.

They will learn about recruitment and selection; curriculum planning; what business plan template to use; what modules/topics to teach; how to ensure participants leave with the most effective business plan possible; and what follow-up support to offer.

Participants will leave the conference knowing what to look for in an entrepreneurship training program, and how to go about building, funding, and assessing such programs. They will leave with practical tools to run more effective programs. For example, conference speaker Jim Price will discuss his Venture Value Chain, a powerful tool that offers entrepreneurs, service providers, and venture investors a conceptual framework and a shared language of commonly understood terminology.

Conference speakers will come from the U.S. government, the Ross School and other leading academic institutions, and global entrepreneurship centers.

Confirmed speakers include:

Steven Koltai, Senior Adviser at the State Department's Global Entrepreneurship Program

David Barth, Director of the Office of Education at the U.S. Agency for International Development

Bailey Klinger, Director of the Entrepreneurial Finance Lab at Harvard

Heidi Neck, Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies and Faculty Director, Symposia for Entrepreneurship Educators

Maha ElShinnawy, Director of the Goldman Sachs Women's Entrepreneurship and Leadership Center at the American University of Cairo

Peter Bamkole, General Manager of Enterprise Development Services at Pan-African University

"We look forward to a lively exchange of ideas for creating next-generation entrepreneurship programs in the Middle East and Africa," says Gillett.

For more information, contact:
Dan Shine, (734) 615-4563,