Two Tupperware executives, Rick Goings and Elinor Steele, visited Iraq in 2011 as part of a Department of Defense Task Force for Business and Stability. While there, they realized Iraq lacked a small and medium enterprise (SME) sector and a robust entrepreneurial class. Women suffer from this the most; they have the highest unemployment, greater barriers to credit, and weak labor laws. Despite the fact that Iraq is poised to experience double-digit growth in the coming years, women must be a part of this growth for the greatest impact.
These realizations sparked a collaborative effort between Tupperware Brands, Rollins College, and the U.S. Secretary of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues. It’s awe-inspiring to think a local, Central Florida company and a small, local college can make a global impact! The result is the Global Links Scholar program.
This partnership invites a female professor from Iraq, hosted by Rollins College, to come and learn skills in five key areas: career, culture, curriculum, community, and coaching through a train-the-trainer model. Ultimately, this opportunity provides the professor with the skills for her to return to Iraq and teach and empower other women to contribute to the future of their country.
The inaugural Global Links Scholar, Dr. Amel Abed Mohammed Ali, was selected and arrived on the campus of Rollins College in January 2012, one short year after Rick and Elinor traveled to Iraq. Dr. Ali is an accomplished researcher, focused primarily on change management and thought leadership. Tupperware Brands and Rollins College provides a perfect fit for this highly accomplished professor. During her Global Links experience she participated in a specially-designed graduate level curriculum that focused on entrepreneurship (both traditional and social, notably Rollins College is an Ashoka designated campus), women business ownership, and financial self-sufficiency. During her externship at Tupperware Brands, Dr. Ali learned the fundamentals of sales, strategic planning, market analysis, and general management skills.
Dr. Ali shares the Global Links program will enable her to “develop both the intellectual and economic standard of Iraqi women as well as the Iraqi community”
In 2013, Dr. Ali returned home to teach students the skills she learned through the Global Links program. And, a partnership was formed with Women for Women International (WfWI). Through these developments a career center was formed and social entrepreneurship classes are offered. The students who are part of this program are learning the importance of social entrepreneurship and community engagement. After completing the coursework, the students are eligible to apply for a two-week immersion program at Rollins College. The first group of students spent time with Rollins students in relevant seminars on social entrepreneurship and participated with local community organizations to develop leadership skills.
Over the next five years the goal is to replicate the program, leveraging these lessons on a global level.
Follow the progress of the Global Links Program on their Facebook page.