Global Links Scholar Program, a private-public partnership to empower Iraqi women through education.
Three years ago, Rick Goings, CEO of Tupperware Brands Corporation, and Elinor Steele, the company’s vice president of global communications and women’s initiatives, visited Iraq, where they learned that Iraq’s entrepreneurial sector was nonexistent. While attending a forum at the University of Baghdad, Goings and Steele felt the students’ sense of hopelessness— with no development, the country offered them no careers and no future. Women in particular lacked entrepreneurial spirit.
After that trip, the company approached Rollins College to create Global Links, which through an application process selects one promising Iraqi woman serving as a business or economics professor to come to campus for two semesters. During that time, she takes courses in social entrepreneurship and management in a “trainthe- trainer” model.
Between semesters, the scholar participates in a twomonth externship at Tupperware Brands, where she shadows managers to develop skills in management, entrepreneurial strategic planning, market analysis, and sales force development.
YEAR ONE: INAUGURAL SCHOLAR
In 2012, Amel Abed Mohammed Ali, a professor of operations management and head of the industrial management department at Iraq’s Babylon University, became the inaugural Global Links Scholar. After her year at Rollins, Ali returned to Iraq to work with Women for Women International (WfWI), an international nongovernmental organization that supports women as they rebuild their lives after war and civil strife.
Using what she had learned, Ali helped create a mentorship program in social entrepreneurship for participants in WfWI programs, as well as new courses in entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, and career management at her school. Twenty-five students who attended sessions on those topics became mentors to 50 more new entrepreneurs—all women who had graduated from WfWI programs.
YEAR TWO: STUDENT VISITS
The learning will come full circle in Phase 2 of the program, when Ali returns to Rollins with five Iraqi undergraduates. During a two-week visit, they will partner with Rollins MBA students to develop social enterprises, improve skills, and build networks to increase their impact when they return to Iraq.
The group was expected to visit in 2013, but changes at the U.S. Department of State caused a delay. Their arrival has been rescheduled for early April. In the meantime, Ali has given presentations on the importance of creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Iraq. She also discussed Global Links with former President Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City.
Ali’s actions have spread to her community, a ripple effect that has positively affected the lives of 100 individuals a year. Over five years, she will have touched the lives of hundreds—enough to begin building Iraq’s small and medium enterprise sector.
In 2014, the school will welcome its next scholar. “Dr. Ali’s courage and passion for change have opened our eyes just as much as we opened hers,” says Craig McAllaster, dean of the Crummer School. “We look forward to hearing about her progress in Iraq, and we anticipate the arrival of our 2014 Global Links Scholar.”