By Tom Snee for Iowa Now 
A class offered this spring by the University of Iowa is helping entrepreneurs from around the state learn how to take their businesses global.
The class—Entrepreneurship and Global Trade—is offered online by the Tippie College of Business and John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center. It’s designed to provide practical lessons to small business owners or aspiring small business owners who want to start selling outside the United States.
“Exports are a significant part of the Iowa economy and provide many opportunities for Iowa entrepreneurs to expand their business with global trade partners,” says Terry Boles, professor of management and organizations and director of the Tippie College’s Institute for International Business who coordinates the class. “But there are a lot of things that people need to know first, and this class is designed to help them.”
The class is taught by Frank Rydzewski and Dan Curran, both adjunct lecturers who have an abundance of international trade experience; Boles, who teaches ethics; and professor Erik Lie, who covers trade finance. They provide a practical introduction to things that global businesses need to know, such as government regulation, marketing, advertising, finding new markets, building a supply chain, and securing financing.
“To succeed globally, business owners need to understand foreign markets as well as how to penetrate those markets,” Boles says. “This course will provide them with the tools to do so.”
The class started January 23 and meets weekly for 15 weeks. The faculty have pre-recorded class lectures and other course materials available online that students can watch on their computers when they have time. The full class then meets online every Monday evening to ask questions and discuss the material.
Boles says 26 students are enrolled in the class this spring, almost all of them from around the state.
“A lot of people in Iowa don’t realize how much of the state’s economy already involves global trade, or that China is Iowa’s fifth largest trading partner,” says Boles. “We want to show students and entrepreneurs that future economic growth is global and that even if you own a small business, there are lots of possibilities around the world.”
The class also provides information that students will need to help them pass the Certified Global Business Certificate exam from NASBITE International, a global trade education organization.
Boles says the class will be offered again in the fall semester.
Note: Major funding for the development of this course was provided by International Programs in the form of a Strategic Global Initiatives Award. The awards, for which all permanent UI faculty are eligible to apply, are intended to help defray costs associated with the development of operations abroad to support faculty collaborations or exchanges, new or existing degree programs, or other collegiate or cross-collegiate initiatives.
“This is one example of the positive effect IP can have in providing impetus to academic initiatives that originate in the colleges,” said Associate Provost and Dean of International Programs Downing Thomas.