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Four Days Before our Departure to Dakar, Senegal

I ask my phone how far away Dakar, Senegal is and Siri chimes back that it is 5,936 miles away. I let that sink in. I have been that far away from home before, but that trip was to Europe, not West Africa. Going with me across the Atlantic Ocean are my fellow Master of Global Management colleagues at the Thunderbird School of Global Management, Mr. Billie Fox (USA) and Mr. Ruben Mazariegos (Guatemala). 

In four days, as part of the Thunderbird Emerging Markets Laboratory (TEM Lab), my talented and highly skilled team will travel to Dakar, Senegal where we will spend five weeks consulting for the Agence Nationale pour la Promotion de l’Emploi des Jeunes (ANPEJ- Senegal’s National Agency for the Promotion of Youth Employment). This work is sponsored by U.S. non-profit Winrock International and the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer Program. Our assignment will require us to visit 16 business incubation centers all over the country run by ANPEJ. We will assess each of these centers in terms of how effectively they are serving the needs of the young entrepreneurs in their communities. We will conduct interviews with ANPEJ executives, the teachers/mentors that work at the incubation centers, and the people that use the services of the incubation centers. A team of translators will assist us with interviews conducted in French (official language of Senegal) and Wolof (the most commonly spoken language in the country).

In the first few weeks of our assignment, our goal is to develop a deep understanding of the business climate in Senegal, the culture and needs of the community members, and the capacity and effectiveness of the incubation centers. It is essential that we cultivate strong working relationships with the key stakeholders in this ecosystem so that we can best collect the information we need to come up with realistic and sustainable recommendations that will enable these incubation centers to improve the economic and social well being of the young Senegalese people who use their services. We may have the opportunity of suggesting the locations and industry concentrations for future incubation centers.

After having developed a syllabus and training module that can be used by incubation center staff, we will spend the last five days of our assignment conducting in-depth workshops for 10 ANPEJ employees who are responsible for teaching the best-practices of business to local farmers. These 10 attendees will be a mix of men and women. We hope that these workshops will enable better management of current centers and that community members receive the best training and business resources possible. 

We are all very excited to be taking part in this great opportunity to transfer our business knowledge and experiences to this important emerging market. Stay posted over the next six weeks for updates on our project.

A little about the team:
Billie Fox has a degree in Criminal Justice and has studied Arabic, Hebrew, and Islam. He has worked for the U.S. Air Force managing communications and for Amazon managing the construction and assembly of robotic equipment. Billie is the Leader of our team. 

Ruben Mazariegos has a degree in Business Management with a focus in Supply Chain. He has experience with agriculture in emerging markets, having grown up on a farm in Guatemala. He has worked as a supplier to Chiquita, and in retail and logistics for Walmart and ConAgra Foods. Ruben is the Lead Interviewer for our team.

I have a degree in Economics and Spanish/Portuguese and have work experience doing office management and client preparation for private law firms practicing criminal and civil law. I am the Social Media Manager and Archivist for our team. 

Our primary contacts at ANPEJ are Director General Amadou Lamine Dieng and Director of Strategy and Operations Papa Magaye Gaye. Working with us at Winrock International are Country Director Ndeye Mama Toure and Program Officer Papa Tall. Supporting us from Thunderbird are TEM Lab Program Director Charles Reeves, Professor Tom Hunsaker, and Librarian Allison Leaming.