A delegation of female business leaders from Latin America visited the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business on July 13, 2017, as part of the Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Americas (WEAmericas) initiative in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program. The visit to the Smith School was organized by the World Trade Center Institute (WTCI) in Baltimore, Md.
The Smith School’s Office of Diversity Initiatives (ODI) arranged a series of panel discussions on entrepreneurship and women’s leadership issues with representatives from the school’s Center for Social Value Creation, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, Ed Snider Center for Enterprise and Markets, Office of Global Initiatives, and faculty member Nicole Coomber.
Much of the conversation centered on pipelines and programs for getting girls and women, school-aged through college, interested and involved in business. Via a translator, speakers discussed programs at Smith from entrepreneurship to social value creation that are directed at female students, taking questions afterwards.
Attendees were particularly interested in how we reach younger children and get them interested in business at an early age.
Cookie College is a good example of a pipeline program that reaches younger girls. In December 2016, 225 Girl Scouts (kindergarten through fifth grade) came to the Smith School to learn about the business of selling cookies.
“The girls need to see role models in business when they are young,” said Sharon Strange Lewis, senior director of women and diversity programs at Smith. “They need to feel empowered.”
Participants had a spirited conversation with Coomber on managing motherhood – she has four young boys – and how she applies business principles to managing her own career and family. Visit the Managing Motherhood video series to learn more.
The Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Americas (WEAmericas) initiative addresses four key barriers women entrepreneurs confront when starting and growing enterprises: access to capital, marketing, skills and capacity building, and women’s leadership. The annual IVLP exchange allows the women to explore a variety of mentorship, job shadowing, education, and skills development programs.
Join the conversation on Twitter at #IVLP.
This program is sponsored in part by the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER), a Title VI grant from the U.S. Department of Education.