A group of faculty members and students from Oklahoma State University will travel to Africa this month as part of an entrepreneurial and cultural exchange program funded by the U.S. Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The focus of the project is to create professional relationships and learning experiences between U.S. entrepreneurs and up-and-coming entrepreneurs from Kenya, South Africa and Uganda. Twenty-four African fellows will participate in the two-way exchange program and work on enterprise projects while maintaining U.S. mentor contacts through social media.
While in Oklahoma last May, the budding African entrepreneurs spent three weeks working as interns for local businesses, organizations, nonprofits, government agencies and educational centers. “Our hope is to follow up with the fellows to see how they have implemented what they have learned in the U.S. into their enterprises,” said Craig Edwards, agricultural education professor and co-director of the grant project.
The OSU group plans to visit eight of the 12 entrepreneurs during their visit and interview potential entrepreneurs for the second phase of the project in October.
“We provide the most help to our fellows when we can learn more about their culture and spend time in their businesses,” said Shelly Sitton, agricultural communications professor and project co-director. “We also have the opportunity to select well-qualified entrepreneurs in person to come to Oklahoma this fall, which helps us provide the best internships for them.”
Faculty members from OSU, who will travel to South Africa and Uganda, include Craig Edwards, agricultural education, communication and leadership; Shida Henneberry, agricultural economics; Craig Watters, entrepreneurship; and Shelly Sitton, agricultural education, communication and leadership. Dr. Jim Hynes, agricultural education professor from Sam Houston State University, will assist the OSU professors. Jacob Sitton, a freshman from Stillwater, and Reina Rivera, graduate student in international agriculture from Antioch, Tenn., will accompany the professors on the trip.
Story by Kim Hunter