Students From Middle East, North Africa Join Forces with U-M Students to Solve World Challenges


This story originally appeared on the William Davidson Institute website. It is republished here with permission. View the original.

Before participating in the William Davidson Institute’s M²GATE Program, University of Michigan sophomore Jackie Spryshak, BBA ‘21, said she had never met anyone from Egypt.

Over eight weeks this summer, Spryshak worked with and got to know her teammates from Egypt as they collaborated on their winning social enterprise project as part of the M2GATE virtual exchange program.

This week, her Egyptian teammates will travel to Ann Arbor for a pitch competition Nov. 14 at the Ross School of Business where they will meet for the first time.

“I am so proud that our team worked so hard and I am thrilled to be able to meet these students in person,” she said. “I am in awe of the creativity and drive behind my teammates, and can't wait to see them.”

Spryshak and her teammates from Egypt were among the more than 500 students who participated in the WDI-organized program MENA-Michigan Initiative for Global Action Through Entrepreneurship (M²GATE), which paired undergrads from five Michigan campuses with peers in Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia to find entrepreneurial solutions to social challenges in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Working virtually, teams developed social entrepreneurship projects and accompanying pitches over an eight-week period with the help of instructors, mentors, and successful entrepreneurs from MENA and Michigan.

At the end of each of the three cohorts, the program hosted a virtual competition with judges naming winners based on  scalable solutions featuring science, technology, engineering, and math – or STEM-based – innovations. The winning team from each cohort will participate in the pitch competition at U-M.

At the November 14 event, each team will have about 5-7 minutes for their presentation before a panel of five judges that includes Ross School entrepreneurship professors and startup consultants. The event begins at 3 p.m. in the Ross School Colloquium on the sixth floor. It will be livestreamed; click here for details. Light refreshments will be served at the conclusion, around 4:30 p.m.