Crossing North America

Posted on September 11, 2011


On our way across the USA we stopped at the Colorado State University at Fort Collins for a discussion with Carl Hammerdorfer, Director of their Global & Sustainable Enterprise MBA. They are offering an interdisciplinary program developed by a group of academic and practitioners with background in entrepreneurship in developed and developing economies. Their students have a combination of hands-on experience and theoretical knowledge based on liberal arts and/or sciences. As part of the program, students develop their own projects based on support by faculty, affiliated companies and incubators. Even funding is provided for selected projects, several of them in developing economies. Reportedly, about 30% of the students’ projects are implemented and successfully tested in practical contexts – which is excellent taking into account that several projects are based in Africa. Way to go to “Make a Difference”. I thank Colorado State University’s professor Douglas Murray for making the introduction.

Crossing Canada and the USA by car, really opens your eyes to the mere geographic size of the North American continent. Also, the great variation in resources between the various states become evident. Listening to local radio hosts along the way, it becomes clear that unemployment and economic growth are of prime concern. No easy solutions are in sight while most seem to agree that new employment must be fuelled by a somehow “renewed” entrepreneurial spirit. The question though remains how best to encourage the establishment of new enterprises in the current uncertain economy.

Surprisingly, though contextually widely different, these challenges are not too different from what we already experienced in Southern Africa. It thus might be argued that at least part of the solution might be found in forming an entrepreneurial spirit among the young – and thus through educational efforts.

The mentioned program at Colorado State University is a good example of how this may be achieved based on collaboration between educators in the developed, the developing world, businesses and young entrepreneurs.

Oyvin – 10-09-2011

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