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Whitman students to assist entrepreneurs in Djibouti during Spring Break

March 04, 2010

Amy Schmitz
(315) 443-3834

Two faculty members and five students in the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University will travel to Djibouti on the Horn of Africa during Spring Break as part of Empowerment through Entrepreneurship, a new initiative aimed at promoting new business innovation in a country with few resources and high levels of unemployment, poverty and malnutrition. The project was developed by the Syracuse University Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team in collaboration with their faculty advisor, Amanda Nicholson, assistant professor or retail management, and Neil Tarallo, assistant professor of entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises. 

The initiative is a unique collaboration between SU-SIFE, PAE Group (a Lockheed Martin company), and the U.S. military. Since fall 2009, the Whitman team has developed a “train-the-trainer” program for the military and administrative personnel stationed at Camp Lemonnier, the major U.S. military base supplying operations in the Middle East. The course material has been delivered via weekly virtual classroom sessions from Feb. 12 to March 5.

The Syracuse group will depart for Djibouti on March 11. For the week of March 14-18, the SU-SIFE students will participate in both classroom sessions and group teamwork designed to help local entrepreneurs begin new enterprises in Djibouti. On their return to Syracuse, SU-SIFE students and faculty will continue to work directly with the military and PAE participants to provide ongoing assistance and development to the local Djiboutian entrepreneurs. 

For Lockheed Martin, the Empowerment through Entrepreneurship program is an opportunity to give back to communities that host their operations; for SU faculty and students, this is an opportunity to apply classroom concepts to a real-world situation where the need is great. For the military personnel, the program provides solid business education and the inspiration to leverage the power of entrepreneurship to help improve the lives of the citizens in Djibouti. 

“These kinds of hands-on learning experiences truly put our students to the test and give them the skills and confidence they need to succeed in the real world,” says Melvin Stith, dean of the Whitman School. “In such a competitive business environment, it’s important that we develop leaders through international programs, enabling them to compete at a global level.”

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