President Obama Announces Exchange Programs focused on Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Science

Fact Sheet
Bureau of Public Affairs
April 26, 2010


In his June 2009 speech in Cairo, President Obama pledged to expand exchange programs and pursue new opportunities in entrepreneurship, innovation, and science. Promoting education globally is a vital element of the Obama Administration’s foreign economic and development policy – an initiative that fosters economic growth, promotes civil society and provides new economic opportunities for U.S. business and investors. New exchanges out of the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) will highlight the importance of entrepreneurship, economic opportunity, and community development.

In response to the President’s Cairo speech and the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship, ECA is forging partnerships with organizations such as Business for Diplomatic Action (BDA) and Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) to offer educational seminars, mentorship, and first-hand experience into the American business place with leading entrepreneurs. ECA will bring 25 entrepreneurs to the U.S. per year over the next 4 years through the International Visitor Leadership Program, "New Beginning: Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation." ECA will also work with private sector partners to send at least 100 American entrepreneurs abroad over the next four years. This effort could be scaled with the support of additional partners.

ECA’s new pilot program, TechWomen is designed to provide professional peer mentorships for approximately 25 women from eligible countries working in the field of technology with their counterparts in the United States. By facilitating the sharing of experience and knowledge as well as creating peer networks, TechWomen fosters professional development for women in eligible countries by creating sustainable relationships between U.S. and foreign participants. Private sector engagement will further enhance this initiative. Championing two distinct but key themes of President Obama’s Cairo speech, TechWomen will support leadership development in the field of technology and promote women’s empowerment. This effort could be scaled with the support of partners.

ECA’s "Science and Technology Education" exchange will bring 25 science teachers from countries with significant Muslim populations to the United States to examine effective methods of teaching science at the primary and secondary school levels. It will explore how to nurture and support hands-on science education, how to demonstrate the relevance of science for children, and how to create a setting in which children actively engage in scientific learning. In addition, the participants will observe extracurricular science camps and science fair educational programs that emphasize experiential learning. The "Science and Technology Education" exchange is in response to President Obama’s Cairo speech and will develop rising leaders in the field of science and technology.

At least 30 Fellows from eligible countries will participate in a new "Education to Employment" initiative within the Young Entrepreneurs Program (YEP). YEP provides mentoring to young business leaders in emerging free market societies and promotes entrepreneurial thinking, job creation, business planning, and management skills to assist young professionals. Fellows will include family-run business owners, women artisans, representatives of the disabled community, and NGO professionals. They will undergo internship and mentoring experiences for approximately 3-8 weeks in the United States. After the Fellows return to their home countries, YEP also supports follow-on programming conducted by U.S. business specialists for the Fellows and their peers through workshops, group consulting and coaching, and business development seminars.