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U.S. State Department awards $300,000 grant to IU Kelley School for Palestinian economic development

Students in Kelley Direct online MBA program will consult small enterprises

  • June 10, 2015

EDITORS: An Arabic version of this news release also is available online.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The U.S. Department of State has awarded a $300,000 grant to support Palestinian economic development through business consulting and support of a local business incubator provided by students of Indiana University's Kelley School of Business.

Administrating the grant and the project is the school's Institute for International Business, which also was involved in the first phase of the Young Entrepreneurship Livelihood Program. The initiative brings together students from Bethlehem University and from the Kelley Direct online MBA program to form consulting teams that help small Palestinian enterprises.

The goal for Young Entrepreneurship Livelihood Program is to support Palestinian economic development by guiding and encouraging young entrepreneurs there to build successful businesses.

"Everywhere in the world, it is the private sector -- not the government -- that is the engine for economic growth. Building business and creating jobs means more people can live a dignified life," said Richard Buangan, U.S. consul for press and cultural affairs. "We are pleased that Indiana University's Kelley School of Business will play such an important role in doing this."

The Young Entrepreneurship Livelihood Program is a new grant through the U.S. Department of State but is an expansion of a successful Kelley Direct consulting course, which trained students in 2014 to provide consulting in Ramallah. This grant will continue to provide consulting services to small businesses in Bethlehem and other cities in the southern region of the West Bank.

"This project builds a strong network with local Palestinian students to transfer knowledge and training of consulting methodology from Kelley School faculty and MBA students," said Idalene Kesner, dean of the Kelley School and the Frank P. Popoff Chair of Strategic Management. “While the project  supports our culture of teamwork and our mission to be of service to others, it’s also a transformative experience for our students.”

Fadi Kattan, dean of the Bethlehem University School of Business Administration, said the international consulting program will help build the skills and abilities of his students, who will continue to play a key role in providing a support network for Palestinian firms.

"Involving undergraduate students in such an activity will be a great experience for them and might encourage some of the participants to start thinking of starting their own businesses as well,” Kattan said.

Over an 18-month period, teams of Kelley Direct students will work with undergraduate students at Bethlehem University for 12 growing Palestinian businesses. After providing six weeks of consulting, Kelley students will travel to Bethlehem for one week for client visits and help their peers at Bethlehem University formulate recommendations for follow-up.

The companies and their consulting coaches focus on a range of issues including cash flow management, controlling growth, marketing, accounting methods, pricing, revenue models, launch plans for products and scenario planning given the difficult business environment.

The grant also supports work by Kelley School faculty with Palestine Polytechnic University, a two-year vocational and technical engineering school, on further developing a business incubator. It currently mentors students at the school to turn their ideas into businesses.

Through distance consulting, project planning and in-country interactions, Kelley School faculty will assist with financial and technological management, marketing, curriculum development and faculty development of Palestine Polytechnic University's incubator. Faculty from both schools will develop a joint action plan so the incubator can be sustainable, self-sufficient and able to invest in future startup businesses in Palestine.

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A signing ceremony for the Young Entrepreneurship Livelihood Program took place Friday in Bethlehem.

A signing ceremony for the Young Entrepreneurship Livelihood Program took place Friday in Bethlehem.

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George Vlahakis

  • IU Communications
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  • IU Inc.

Stephanie Nguyen

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  • Institute for International Business
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  • stenguye@indiana.edu