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Innovation without Borders
Humphrey Fellows Explore Entrepreneurship

In March, UC Davis hosted 35 Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows at the inaugural International Innovation and Entrepreneurship Academy. The academy represents the university’s expanded involvement in the U.S. Department of State–funded Humphrey Program. The program brings mid-career professionals from five continents to 18 host universities across the U.S. for a year of non-degree graduate study, leadership development and professional collaboration.

The academy, presented by the Graduate School of Management’s Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, is one of just five Enhancement Workshops across the country developed for this year’s Humphrey Program.

Roselyn A. Onyuro-Odero, a Humphrey Fellow at UC Davis, teaches conservation biology in Kenya. She also collaborates with local communities in conservation and management of aquatic resources. “The academy taught me how to work better with the various stakeholders as I plan my project and identify who to partner with, who to consult and—most important—determine who should be on my team and what I expect of them,” she said.

“As Humphrey Fellows, we are being molded into leaders, and, as such, we shall be expected to initiate and run projects and to mentor others. The academy offered vital information in these areas. It was very interesting—and very packed—three days.”

Ajay Raghava, a Fellow based at Cornell University and deputy director of the Ministry of Environment & Forests and the National Ganga River Basic Authority in India, agreed. “The workshop was helpful in teaching the skills to start a venture and be successful,” he said. “The real-time experience to discuss my proposal [for holistic river conservation] with mentors was most important.”

Mazharul Anowar, who is based at UC Davis for the Fellowship, is the managing director of Palongkhali Aquacuture Limited, a family business headquartered in the village of Ukhiya in southeastern Bangladesh.

In 2010, Anowar gained new ideas for growing his business when he visited the U.S. through the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program. At the International Innovation and Entrepreneurship Academy, he learned how to combine his professional experience, commitment to community development and MBA training with his growing network and entrepreneurial skills. His goal: to develop and launch a project to provide loans to low-income farmers in rural of Bangladesh within 48 hours of a natural disaster.

Caption: 35 Fellows from around the globe kicked off the academy with an exercise in innovation. Working in teams, they created a slingshot out of a file folder, pencil, playing card, adhesive tape, and a rubber band to hurl a maltball into a distant cup. The message: networks and innovation are critical to bringing an idea to market.