In the news: UI faculty help African entrepreneurs build businesses in their home countries

Two University of Iowa faculty members recently spent time in Ethiopia and Kenya helping entrepreneurs who participated in last year’s Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) develop their businesses. One such entrepreneur is David Okech, who operates

Two University of Iowa faculty members recently spent time in Ethiopia and Kenya helping entrepreneurs who participated in last year’s Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) develop their businesses. One such entrepreneur is David Okech, who operates a high-quality animal feed mill called Sare Millers in Kisumu, Kenya. Patrick Johanns, a member of the management sciences faculty in the Tippie College of Business and JPEC, spent eight days in May with Okech in Kenya. Photo by Patrick Johanns.

By Tom Snee, IowaNow

Lulayn Awgichew quickly caught Dimy Doresca’s attention when she participated in the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) last summer at the University of Iowa.

“She had specific goals that she wanted to achieve for her business in Ethiopia and knew what she wanted to learn during her fellowship,” says Doresca, director of the UI’s Institute for International Business in the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC) and YALIcoordinator. “It gave her the motivation she needed, a wake-up call to see that her business had potential.”

As a new group of fellows arrives on campus this week to participate in the 2017 YALIprogram, some UI faculty are still working with last year’s participants. Doresca and Patrick Johanns, a member of the management sciences faculty in the Tippie College of Business and JPEC, each received one of just 50 follow-up grants the U.S. State Department awarded for U.S. faculty to visit YALI alumni in their home countries and provide hands-on entrepreneurial support.

Awgichew and her husband operate Bilset Agritech, a pesticide and agricultural equipment sales business in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Doresca spent 10 days there in January helping develop a growth strategy. He says pest control is a high-growth business in Addis Ababa because few other businesses provide the service in the city of more than 3 million people. Among Awgichew’s clients are the offices of multinational companies, foreign embassies, and many homeowners from expatriate communities.

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