100 ambitious students from seven Middle East & North African countries embark on sixth annual MENA Scholarship Program for 2017

The Coca-Cola Foundation, U.S. Department of State, The Coca-Cola Company and Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business are set to welcome 100 aspiring entrepreneurs from across the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) to the U.S. this month to participate in the sixth annual MENA Scholarship Program.

Taking place at Indiana University’s Global Business Institute from June 24th through July 23rd, 14 budding entrepreneurs from Jordan will participate, from among 100 students shortlisted.

These future leaders have been selected from over 4,500 applicants across seven countries to participate in the MENA Scholarship program. The program is a month-long, world-class education program, focused on developing business and social entrepreneurship skills to help realize their start-up dreams.

Applicants from Jordan contributed almost 400 business ideas to the website which was visited by more than 1.2 million registered users across MENA to vote for their favorite concepts. Shortlisted candidates were then invited to interview with program partners at the U.S. Embassy in Amman,  where the deserving recipients of this year’s scholarship were selected.

The class of 2017 will join a total of almost 500 university students who have already participated since the international educational program since it was founded in 2012. Alumni have gone on to secure almost 100 other higher education scholarships, and 108 former scholars have reported that they have already started their own businesses after returning from the program. These span a variety of sectors including enterprise technology, mobile application services, hospitality and tourist sector services, environmental services, and digital media services; all with the aim of “Making Tomorrow Better” in their home countries.

A private-public partnership between the U.S. Department of State, The Coca-Cola Company and Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, and from 2017, The Coca-Cola Foundation, the MENA Scholarship Program has been designed to provide young people from the MENA region with the opportunity to refine their entrepreneurship skills and develop the tools to create their own business plans in an effort to develop increased economic and social opportunity among Jordan’s youth population.

“The MENA region has a young and fast-growing population, and empowering the region’s youth is essential to ensuring long-term economic and social prosperity,” said Murat Ozgel, General Manager of Coca-Cola Middle East. "The Coca-Cola Company has a strong commitment to the communities in which we operate, and we look forward to welcoming the latest group of young Jordanian entrepreneurs to the MENA Scholarship Program” he continued.

The students will spend four weeks studying with the faculty at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business with a curriculum tailored to teaching them to use business and social entrepreneurship skills to address consumer and societal needs in their home countries. 

“Over the past five years we have welcomed almost 400 incredibly talented young people with great vision at the Global Business Institute who we have had the pleasure of both teaching and learning from during our time together,” said Idie Kesner, Dean of Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. “The curriculum has been deliberately designed to expose the students to U.S. business practice and culture, and to build connections across their respective countries, equipping them to compete in a hyper-connected world. We are excited to meet the next generation of future leaders from this vibrant region and to host them here at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, home to one of the most respected entrepreneurship programs in the United States.”

To encourage student engagement and participation, the 100 young entrepreneurs will be divided into small groups and will take part in courses including an introduction to business, communications, finance, accounting, marketing, operations, strategy, human resources and entrepreneurship with a wide variety of instructional, interactive and experiential sessions.

U.S. Chargé D’Affaires in Jordan, Henry Wooster, said “I engage Jordanians from all walks of life, but I particularly enjoy the chance to talk with young people and entrepreneurs; those who have the energy and the vision to shape Jordan’s future. I also really enjoy meeting participants of our cultural and professional exchange programs, such as this one. ”

The program at Indiana University concludes with a business plan competition, before students travel to Washington D.C for a reception at the US Department of State and Chamber of Commerce, followed by a trip to The Coca-Cola Company’s headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

Watch this space to learn more about the winning ideas and join them in their exciting journey.