Public Service Entrepreneurship
In a few moments the Asian University for Women (AUW) in Bangladesh will close its first international conference; Imagining Another Future for Asia: Ideas and Pathways for Change. Imagine a conference where every speaker and panelist is informed, articulate, interesting, and thought provoking. Picture where the topics support the conference theme by connecting across sessions as diverse as climate change, nuclear threats building institutions, and redirecting science for development. Add in Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Cherie Blair, newly named as the AUW chancellor, the former First Lady of Japan, and the First Lady of Malaysia and you have a high powered launch. But the icing on the cake was the attendance of all 400 or so students of AUW. Overall, this conference has been an amazing convening of a very diverse set of constituents to learn, and laugh, together.
I’ve been an advocate of AUW since I first learned about it from its founder, Kamal Ahmad, and agreed to serve on the steering committee for the soon to launch graduate school in Entrepreneurship and Management. While I thought I had a sense of the school, being here gives one a true sense of what has been accomplished so quickly as well as what still needs to be accomplished. The young women are incredible. When asking questions they were confident and direct. They followed up with speakers after sessions. They were eager to ask for help for current and future projects. And they made every one of us feel accepted as an immediate member of the AUW family.
A few days before the conference started a group of us were able to visit the current home of the school in Chittagong and be a part of the dedication of the new site. Boston architect Moshe Safdie has created an inspired design for the new site that incorporates the various contours of the land. His design will eventually provide the students with an “uptown” dwelling closely connected to the “downtown” academic activities.
My panel on Public Service Entrepreneurship just ended. I had eaten lunch with the officers of the AUW entrepreneurship club so I already knew there was a large contingent passionate about the topic. They are already working on the launch of their businesses and NGOs and today had many questions about building in ethics and values into their new organizations. Given that I always end my definition of entrepreneurship with an outcome of the creation of value – I feel very positively about the value all these young women will create for their families and their countries. This was one of those special experiences of a lifetime. Check it out. www.asian-university.org.
President’s Distinguished Professor Of Entrepreneurship