Fulbright Social Entrepreneurship Seminar Provides Skills for Change for Afghan Students

November 2013

The Fulbright Social Entrepreneurship Program for Afghan Students is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) as part of its flagship Fulbright Program. The program, designed for approximately 70 graduate-level Afghan Fulbright students studying in the United States, aims to provide professional development and leadership skills that participants can apply during their time in the United States and upon returning home.

In the past, the program has been successful in giving these bright individuals the brainpower and creative control necessary to enact some powerful changes in their home country and beyond. "One of the 2012 Fulbright scholars just received over $100k in funding to launch the idea initially formed and developed here at the seminar and throughout the workshop sessions. The funding will go towards providing sustainable economic opportunities and increase access to quality of education in Afghanistan, particularly for orphans of the area." said Brett Smith, the Director of the Institute for Entrepreneurship.

Before the seminar began, the students, not all of whom study Entrepreneurship, were hopeful it would provide them with some context that will be applicable in their own lives and studies. Participant Muzhgan, who studies Education, was optimistic that it would help her have a clearer understanding of the concept of "entrepreneurship" itself.

Hameed, a participant who already knows a little about entrepreneurship (he has his own startup that focuses on information communication in Afghanistan), said he hopes to take the knowledge he gleans from the seminar beyond the boundaries of this program. "I came here with an idea of incubating an initiative that I can take further or beyond this seminar," he said. "I want to keep thinking about how this program and the knowledge I get here might solidify or strengthen the ideas I already have. I also want to learn more advanced methods of sustainable development that I can take back to Afghanistan."

"I really liked the seminar," said Muzhgan, "mostly because it was not only about entrepreneurship but also taught us about leadership. There was a different and separate workshop for ladies talking about women's leadership and what kind of problems a woman faces being a leader."

With these opportunities and workshops geared toward leadership and social entrepreneurship, the Fulbright program and Farmer's Center for Social Entrepreneurship want to make a difference in students' minds and equip them with the tools and skills to transform their ideas and concepts into working solutions.