Federal grant program to bring young African leaders to campus

Federal grant program to bring young African leaders to campus

By University Communications
June 19, 2014
Students attending a class at the Business and Entrepreneurship Institute.

Photo: Students attending a class at the Business and Entrepreneurship Institute.

A federal grant will help University of Wisconsin-Stout develop leaders among young people from Africa.

A $100,000 Washington Fellowship grant from President Obama's Young African Leaders Initiative will be used for academic coursework and leadership training for 25 people. The Business and Entrepreneurship Institute will run from June 15 to July 26 at UW-Stout, which will provide leadership expertise, services and facilities.

Mark Fenton, associate professor of international business and management who wrote the grant application, said the president's initiative "is focused on creating entrepreneurial, civic leadership and public management opportunities for the future of many African countries. Creating jobs in existing industries or developing innovative initiatives are critical to the long-term growth in any country, and the countries in Africa are no different."

At UW-Stout, Fenton said, the participants will use the UW-Stout Fab Lab, part of a global computer-aided design fabrication network, and receive instruction in entrepreneurship, leadership, innovation and developing concepts. They also will hear guest speakers and meet with faculty.

Topics include strategy, operations, supply chain management, business ethics, social entrepreneurship, microfinance, organizational development and management, marketing, innovation and technology, emerging markets and risk analysis, strategic business planning and corporate social responsibility.

The six-week institute won't be all work. Participants will spend time in Hayward and Wisconsin Dells and at the Mall of America and a baseball game. They will have the opportunity to interact within the community and engage in several cross-cultural events during their time in Menomonie and west-central Wisconsin.

"Overall, this experience is designed for the fellows to see what is possible and how it can be achieved," Fenton said.

After the institute has ended, Fenton will travel with the group to Washington, D.C., for what is being called a "summit with President Obama," Fenton added.

Across the country, some 500 young African leaders will be brought to the United States for academics and leadership training.

"We need young Africans who are standing up and making things happen, not only in their own countries but around the world," President Obama said of his initiative. "Africa's future belongs to its young people."

The institute will be in the College of Management, led by Dean Abel Adekola. Fenton was supported in the grant application process by Sue Foxwell, director of Research Services, and Hong Rost, director of the Office of International Education.

More information on the program is available here