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Last modified: Tuesday, June 4, 2013

IU hosts 100 students from Middle East, Near Asia and North Africa in Coca-Cola, State Department program

Students to visit from Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, Pakistan, Morocco and Tunisia

June 5, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A successful program at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business that last summer taught dozens of college students from the Middle East and North Africa to become entrepreneurs is being expanded this summer to include those from Pakistan and Afghanistan.


Last summer, 100 students from six countries across the Middle East and North Africa came to IU Bloomington for the program and learned from faculty such as Patricia McDougall-Covin, left.

The 100-student contingent also includes young people from six predominantly Arab nations, who are again coming to IU Bloomington for the Global Business Institute, with support from The Coca-Cola Company, the U.S. State Department and Partners for a New Beginning.

Students will arrive this weekend from Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, the Palestinian territories, Morocco and Tunisia to learn about business plan development, social entrepreneurship, nonprofit management and other topics.

After nearly four weeks at IU, they will compete in a team business plan contest, developing ideas for enterprises they can pursue upon their return home. The judges will include venture capitalists, faculty, local business leaders and representatives of The Coca-Cola Company, who will provide real-world critiques to the students.

After leaving Bloomington, the students also will visit Washington, D.C., where they will be hosted at the State Department; and The Coca-Cola Company headquarters in Atlanta, Ga., where they will meet with the chairman and CEO, Muhtar Kent.

The curriculum for the Global Business Institute has been tailored to meet the needs of the 66 men and 34 women in the program. All are currently enrolled college students in fields such as computer science, engineering, medicine and business and are between the ages of 18 and 24. All of them were selected on the basis of their concrete ideas for starting businesses that will help to make a better tomorrow in their home countries.

More than 7,000 students applied for the program, up from 5,300 a year ago, and a staggering 360,000 people signed up to review and vote online for the best ideas.

Many students who were among the program's first class last year have gone on to create new businesses and pursue further education to learn about entrepreneurship.

"We are thrilled to continue our partnership in such a wonderful and life-changing program," said Idalene Kesner, dean designate of the Kelley School. "It makes us proud to see the many ways that last year's students have put their new knowledge, skills and confidence to work in their communities.

"Entrepreneurship is key to creating stability and growth in emerging markets, and it's exciting to know we can build on that progress in other countries this year. We look forward to welcoming a new group of students to the Kelley family," Kesner added.

Kelley School of Business

IU Kelley School of Business

Print-Quality Photo

The program is another effort by the Kelley School's Institute for International Business, which has been involved in social entrepreneurship projects in Malaysia, Barbados, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates and supports the internationalization of a plethora of academic programs.

"The Coca-Cola Company understands that for its business to be successful over the long term, the communities in which it operates need to be sustainable -- sustainable economically, sustainable environmentally and with strong community support systems," said Curt Ferguson, president of Coca-Cola Middle East and North Africa.

"The Coca-Cola Company seeks to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs from Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, the Palestinian territories and Tunisia, so that they can create the local companies and NGOs which will make tomorrow better in their own communities," Ferguson added.

While most faculty teaching in the program are from the Kelley School, they also will include those from IU's School of Public and Environmental Affairs, the School of Global and International Studies and the Maurer School of Law.

In addition to the classroom education, students will work most evenings with faculty coaches, who will help them develop the feasibility studies for their business ideas. Faculty coaches this year are Chris Cook, co-director of the MBA Consulting Academy and a lecturer of accounting; Joel Rubin, clinical associate professor of business law; and Fred Schlegel, a lecturer in management and entrepreneurship and owner of JSMI Consulting LLC.

Other IU faculty teaching in the program will include former Iraqi ambassador Feisal Istrabadi, a university scholar in international law and diplomacy and director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East.

Students also will visit several major Indiana-based companies and business incubators, as well as cultural and recreational sites that provide them with a better understanding of the U.S.

Many participants in last year's program have described it as life changing and are using it as a stepping stone to developing new technology concepts, start businesses, continue their education, begin careers in international business and find new ways to contribute to society in their home countries.

For example, a team led by Sudkey Dwikat will represent the Palestinian territories at the Microsoft-sponsored worldwide Imagine Cup Competition in Russia in July. Abdel Rahman Alzorgan, a graduate of Tafila Technical University in Jordan, is an ambassador for One Young World, a London-based organization that works to create positive change. Ragheb Ayman, another student from Palestine, interned at the European Investment Bank.

"My participation in the Global Business Initiative has changed totally my life," said Youcef Bentaleb, a computer science major at M'sila University in Algeria, who won his country's Creative Business Cup.

"I think it was a dream, but I go back to the pictures and I realize ... it happened," added Nihal El-Tawil, who is opening up a restaurant in Alexandria, Egypt.

They've remained close-knit as a group despite the thousands of miles separating many of them.

"These students went back into their home countries with new ideas and new energies, and it has been rewarding to find ways to keep these relationships going and even see their successes firsthand," said LaVonn Schlegel, the Institute for International Business' managing director.

"The purpose of the program is to send these young people off to do great things in the world, and I have absolutely no doubt that they are going to change the rules. They are going back and building a future that none of us can imagine," she added.

About the IU Kelley School of Business

For over 90 years -- first in Bloomington and later in Indianapolis, online and for top companies -- IU's Kelley School of Business has prepared students to lead organizations, start companies, develop new products and services, and shape business knowledge and policy. Its programs are consistently ranked among the best in the nation, its faculty members are internationally recognized for their teaching and thought leadership, and businesses worldwide hire its highly qualified graduates.

About The Coca-Cola Company

The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) is the world's largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still brands. Led by Coca-Cola, the world's most valuable brand, the company's portfolio features $16 billion brands including Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola Zero, vitaminwater, Powerade, Minute Maid, Simply, Georgia and Del Valle. Globally, it is the No. 1 provider of sparkling beverages, ready-to-drink coffees and juices and juice drinks. Through the world's largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy its beverages at a rate of more than 1.8 billion servings a day. With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, the company is focused on initiatives that reduce its environmental footprint, support active, healthy living, create a safe, inclusive work environment for its associates and enhance the economic development of the communities where it operates. Together with its bottling partners, it ranks among the world's top 10 private employers with more than 700,000 system associates. For more information, visit Coca-Cola Journey, follow the company on Twitter or visit its blog, Coca-Cola Unbottled.