Opening the third door

Blog post by ELP Student Mira Ruder-Hook (International Studies & French | Class of 2018)

 

So far, it’s been a pretty phenomenal summer and joining ELP has hugely informed what I’ve been up to.

 

In ELP, we were continuously exposed to people of various backgrounds and experiences, all of whom were involved in entrepreneurship or entrepreneurial ventures. They all shared different insight, but it all seemed to converge, reinforcing one thing in particular: there isn’t one path to entrepreneurship, nor should there be (we are all different and in the process of cultivating these differences great, unique ideas will manifest). Since there is no “right way,” figure out what ‘pulls’ you and pursue it.

 

So, that’s what I’ve been doing. Maybe it’s my International studies and French background, but learning about social entrepreneurship in other places around the world really pulled me.

 

To pursue this, I applied and was accepted into a program called MENA-Michigan Initiative for Global Action Through Entrepreneurship Program(M²GATE), organized by UM’s William Davidson Institute. This program connects U.S. students with college students in the MENA region through a virtual, collaborative program, where we work together on a social entrepreneurship project. My team was comprised of four Moroccan college students and a fellow Wolverine.

 

Last week our team presented our final pitch to the M2Gate Committee, and we were incredibly proud with what we came up with. Our idea however was only one of the many positive takeaways from this program. Participating in M2Gate gave me the chance to meet, learn from, and work with a team of Moroccan college students, share and iterate our ideas, and implement our solution.

 

More specifically, the conversations that we had about the feasibility of our ideas was particularly valuable because it required significant time, effort, and emotional energy, but these discussions enabled us to think through our ideas. I was impressed by the dedication that my teammates showed and their evident commitment to the project motivated me to contribute as much as I possibly could to our team’s output. Second, we decided to focus on Morocco, which enabled me to learn more about Morocco (my teammate Adam is even headed to Morocco later this month to meet our teammates). Third, we came up with a real solution.

 

To conclude, it was the people that made this an amazing experience. We communicated with each other well because everyone was willing to share, critique, and be open-minded to different opinions, enabling us to continuously generate ideas. Earth-shattering ideas, no, but from these conversations, viable ideas that solved the specific problem that we had set out to focus emerged.

 

And the best part? It’s not over yet. We all agreed that we want to continue working on implementing our idea over the course of the next year to be eligible for additional funding for our project.