BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Indiana University’s Office of International Development has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to implement a new program. IU says the grant will be used for new business incubation centers and entrepreneurship curricula at Bahir Dar and Debre Markos universities in Ethiopia.
The funding will help establish the Partnership in Business Entrepreneurship and Leadership Transformation program, known as PiBELT. The project’s eventual goal is to support a stronger innovation ecosystem around the country.
“PiBELT is a tool for poverty reduction, job creation and good governance,” said Yibeltal Tarekegn Minwagaw, project co-director at Debre Markos University.
The initiative is designed to transform the capacity of young innovators and entrepreneurs in Ethiopia while also developing administrative and leadership capacities of the two partner universities.
The U.S. Department of State offers the funding through the University Partnerships Initiative, which was created to strengthen collaboration between the U.S. and Africa. The university says the initiative supports higher education links that expose African students, faculty and administrators to the diversity and innovation on American campuses.
“The project is anticipated to bring improved awareness among students/trainees and leadership, improved entrepreneurship knowledge and skills, new businesses created, and improved capacity,” said Getahun Yemata, project co-director at Bahir Dar University. “Moreover, the collaboration is instrumental to access international experiences, knowledge and skills, and to share cultural and personal experiences and strengthen the link.”
IU says it will partner with Ivy Tech Bloomington’s Gayle & Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship, which will design and deliver workshops on the campuses at Bahir Dar and Debre Markos. Over 12 weeks, the university says people from the universities and surrounding community will receive training in business modeling and sales and market analysis and will network with business leaders and mentors.
“This is a great opportunity to help spur innovation and small business development for their communities and promote cultural exchange with small businesses in Indiana and beyond,” said Steve Bryant, executive director of the Cook Center for Entrepreneurship.
IU says the PiBELT goal is to create a sustainable, scalable infrastructure that enables its Ethiopian partners to continue the work long after the grant ends.