VCU School of Business to build Henry Ford Entrepreneurship Academy in Morocco

vcu-logoVirginia Commonwealth University and its strategic partner the International Institute of Higher Education Morocco will lead the inaugural Henry Ford Entrepreneurship Academy in Casablanca, Morocco, this fall.

Sponsored by the Ford Fund — the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Co. — the entrepreneurship academy will teach local entrepreneurs with varying backgrounds the skills, tools and entrepreneurial mindset to develop creative ideas and grow new ventures.

“Entrepreneurship plays a critical role in energizing communities and stimulating economies. I have no doubt that the new Henry Ford Entrepreneurship Academy will make a difference in Morocco, and VCU is proud to play a leading role in this exciting venture,” said Ed Grier, dean of the VCU School of Business.

Faculty from the VCU Department of Management traveled to Casablanca earlier this week to begin their work with IIHEM. The project scope includes identifying students, interviewing local businesses to understand their needs, co-creating the content tailored to local needs, administering the application and acceptance process, and then finally delivering the workshop with the idea that this is just step one of the overall long-term plan for growing entrepreneurship in Morocco.

“The VCU School of Business has an existing partnership with IIHEM, with whom we offer joint degree programs in finance and marketing,” said Doug Pugh, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Management. “The relationships developed through that partnership allowed us to develop this opportunity to work with Ford on the Henry Ford Entrepreneurship Academy in Morocco. It is exciting because it just shows how one relationship can grow into multiple opportunities. The visibility provided by this program can impact our ability to attract talented international students to VCU. It exposes our faculty to the challenge of applying our knowledge in new international contexts, and it is already leading to new research collaborations between faculty at the two partner schools.”

The academy will be offered twice in the fall as a two-day workshop, covering creative thinking, business models, regulatory and legal issues, financials, marketing, branding and business plans. Jay Markiewicz, executive director of entrepreneurship programs, will oversee the workshops on site.

“VCU is bringing to the table deep expertise in entrepreneurship education and IIHEM is bringing their insights of the local culture and norms,” Markiewicz said. “Integrating the two results in a powerful offer with impact for the local economy in Morocco.”

The Ford Fund supports innovative programs that help the motor company’s neighbors, concentrating on community, education and safe driving. Ford is opening 13 retail facilities in North Africa this year, three in Morocco.


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