Global Links ‘Ripple Effect’ Transforming Lives in Brazil, India

Global Links seeks corporate partnerships as it enters next phase of its work empowering females through education and entrepreneurship.

Brazilian Global Links Scholar Dr. Denise Delboni left Orlando in the June 2019, after her semester-long immersion as part of Phase 1 of the Global Links program, to hit the ground running in Brazil.

Feeling empowered and inspired by the first phase of the program, which immersed the scholar in classes at Crummer and Rollins, entrepreneurship events, and finally an externship at Tupperware Brands, Dr. Delboni had big plans heading into Phase 2.

Dr. Delboni, a professor of Law and Labor and Employment Relations at Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV) and Escola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing (ESPM) in São Paulo, Brazil, saw significant demand for students interested in the fields of social entrepreneurship and innovation.

Identifying a record 35 female entrepreneurs and students from five different universities to participate in Phase 2 of the program, Dr. Delboni forged ahead despite cautions from Global Links program manager Yasmin Mesbah that having so many students in the program could be overwhelming work.

In the second phase of the program, the “train the trainer activation” phase, the selected students partner with women in their communities to help start or scale their businesses. In Brazil, where 4 in 10 families are led by a woman and 41% of those women work as entrepreneurs, there’s a substantial need for entrepreneurship training.

“The students are making it easy for her because they are so energetic and so committed,” said Mesbah, who noted the woman-led businesses participating in the program range from textiles, publishing, food preparation, restaurants and more.

denise delboni

Thus far throughout Phase 2, Dr. Delboni and her Graduate Assistant, Luiz Fantini have furthered entrepreneurial education by engaging faculty to address areas of attention that were identified as important for the female entrepreneurs.

“For example, they had finance and marketing professors speak on how to help a startup with their finances, and what marketing tools are appropriate for a small business” said Dr. Conway Dato-on, who along with Mesbah visited Brazil in early December for a check-in on Phase 2.

In the first month of Phase 2, which Dr. Conway Dato-on calls the “honeymoon phase”, the students and female entrepreneurs first get to know each other, learn about the business, and participate in workshops.

The next three months in the field are very experiential, when the students take on more of a consulting role advising the female entrepreneurs, like Crummer students do many times throughout their MBA programs. For many of the Brazilian students, this applied learning is something that is new to them.

“At Crummer we try to prepare students through consulting projects. That’s not a model that we’re seeing in the three nations we have worked with through Global LInks,” said Dr. Conway Dato-on. “This program provides students with an opportunity to implement their academic learnings.”

The top five Brazilian students who demonstrate professionalism, positive attitude, application of knowledge and great peer reviews earn the opportunity to come to the United States for Phase 3 along with Dr. Delboni, where they will be immersed in the Crummer, Rollins environment.

Although Phase 2 is just getting underway in Brazil, the universities are already seeing transformation among the students.

“The leadership at the Brazilian universities are already seeing the impacts. It speaks volumes to the dedication Dr. Delboni and her amazing Graduate Assistant, Luiz Fantini have put into this phase of the program,” said Mesbah.

The Mission Perseveres in India

After two successful Global Links cycles and thousands of lives changed in India, former Global Links scholars Dr. Sharmistha Banerjee and Dr. Rumpa Chakraborty were motivated to continue the impact achieved in Kolkata, India with new, grant-funded programs.

The first program funded by U.S. Consulate in Kolkata, called Alumni Connect 2019, is an extension of Global Links aimed at empowering students and small businesses in underserved communities with skills necessary to improve business success and economic livelihood. A second program, “Chain of Change” was developed from a grant through the University of Nebraska’s initiative, Partnership 2020, Leveraging US-India Cooperation in Higher Education, enabled the work of empowering marginalized communities through education entrepreneurship to be extended beyond Kolkata into West Bengal.

“The fact that we have the grants speaks to the positive impact the local [Indian] market that we are impacting with this program,” said Dr. Conway Dato-on. “As a result of our established credibility: we know how to work in India, we know how to run a program that is multi-national, multi-institutional, and still educationally drives social impact, funders want us to continue the work.”

At the conclusion of the Alumni Connect 2019 program, instead of a two-week immersion to Crummer, the top performing students can earn a chance to attend Crummer.

“There’s an opportunity for the two top students to receive scholarships to Crummer in the Early Advantage MBA program,” said Dr. Conway Dato-on.

The Global Links program’s “train the trainer” model is on full display with a program like this, where the Global Links team itself is providing help with strategy and planning, but the bulk of the program is carried out via the people previously trained in Global Links cycles.

“We might not be giving classes to the people in India, but the Crummer mission is living in them,” said Dr. Conway Dato-on.

Future Partnerships

A program like Global Links is dependent on having corporate sponsorships that allow each cycle of Global Links to transform over 2,000 lives.

“The impact we have is changing participant’s life trajectory,” said Dr. Conway Dato-on. “I haven’t seen very many programs that do this across multiple sectors. We are changing the lives of the students, the professors and the entrepreneurs.”

Dr. Conway Dato-on says the Global Links program has a goal of completing another cycle in Brazil after the current one is over in Spring 2020, but they need corporate sponsors.

Yasmin Mesbah says she has seen the impact in the transformation of former Global Links changemakers first hand.

“We had a student who started the program very shy and not very confident in English. As she went through the program, she transformed to speak on a live, recorded panel in front of 50 people in English with questions on the spot; it’s amazing to see that,” said Mesbah.

For any corporation that is dedicated to making real, sustainable impact, Dr. Conway Dato-on says Global Links is a program that does just that.

“The Global Links program, which embodies Crummer’s mission of educating globally-minded, innovative and responsible business leaders, is a perfect match for a like-minded company seeking to create positive multi-sector, multi-generational impacts at home and abroad. I hope someone in our Crummer network interested in making a long-term deep impact would consider reaching out to me; sponsoring the Global Links program that will undoubtedly help them achieve their mission and enact their values.”