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In the past, ICR and the US Department of State's Economic Empowerment in Strategic Regions (EESR) Program formed a partnership for GW MBA students to gain practical experience assisting local entrepreneurs in conflict zones with business proposals. Proposals submitted to EESR by local citizens for businesses such as manufacturing, agricultural or retail were reviewed by students. The unique challenges presented by operating in conflict zones called for a distinct skill-set for managers and entrepreneurs. The Business Development in Conflict Zones Program provided students the opportunity to apply lessons of Peace Through Commerce and their MBA studies to real business initiatives from conflict zones.
In the Business Development in Conflict Zones Program, as a course requirement for Directed Readings and Research (SMPP 298), MBA students worked with faculty and the entrepreneur directly to evaluate business proposals and to produce a business plan to meet global standards of excellent business practices and social responsibility. Students investigated issues such as feasibility plans, business plans, financial and political risks, business and government—specific to the home country—and Peace through Commerce.
EESR was an inter-agency initiative to forge partnerships for private sector growth in conflict-affected fragile states. Individuals from countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Philippines submitted business proposals to EESR to obtain resources otherwise not available: portals for partnership-building, customized matchmaking and, widespread marketing vehicles.
John Forrer, Associate Director of ICR for more information.