Although slightly more than four months old, the war in Ukraine has already disrupted hundreds of thousands of lives, leaving civilians of all ages with interrupted futures and limited options. Specifically, Ukraine’s impressive innovation and entrepreneurship environment has been compromised as companies and entrepreneurs have fled the ongoing conflict, leaving vacuum in terms of the innovation ecosystem. Because of its work in building the knowledge economy, Georgia is a natural location to assist Ukrainian entrepreneurs in bridging the cap caused by the conflict.
The US Market Access Center and Startup Grind Tbilisi (a non-profit based in Tbilisi, Georgia) has partnered with:
- The Ministries of Education in Ukraine and Georgia
- Various universities (public and private) in Ukraine and Georgia
- The US Agency for International Development’s Economic Resilience Activity in Ukraine
- The Adjara Group (a major corporation in Georgia)
- TBC Bank (one of the leading banks in Georgia) and
- The US Market Access Center (USMAC), based in Silicon Valley
to create the “Safe Haven” program for female university entrepreneurs from the war zone in eastern Ukraine. Working closely with the Ministry of Education in Ukraine and the team at the Economic Resilience Activity, we have identified 18 student entrepreneurs to participate in the program. Prior to the war, they attended universities that have now been physically destroyed.
The Safe Haven program will bring these students to Georgia for a full year of education and entrepreneurial support. The following is a short description of the program.
- Phase 1 – The students will work in teams with over the summer with assistance from coaches to further their individual concepts, as well as to create a group concept to benefit the rebuilding of their country in the post-war context. They will be supported by volunteer mentors from Silicon Valley and other startup hubs.
- Phase 2 – The week of September 4, 2022, the students will attend the European Innovation Academy’s Leadership Boot Camp in Batumi Georgia. Tuition and travel for these students’ participation in the Boot Camp would be offset by funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The bootcamp will bring together 100 student entrepreneurs from around the region to develop their leadership skills as it relates to entrepreneurship. The bootcamp will be led personally by Ken Singer, the Managing Director of the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology at UC Berkeley. Additional faculty and mentors from UC Berkeley, Stanford and USMAC will be part of the delivery team.
- Phase 3 – Once the school term begins, the students will remain in Georgia and would be placed in university programs at participating Georgian universities that are suitable to their majors. Tuition and room/board would be fully covered for one year through donations from the private sector in Georgia. Each participant would have a Georgian partner of their own age who is a volunteer and who is vetted by the university partners who would ensure his/her integration into the community, assist him/her in navigating bureaucracy, etc.
For more information on the program, contact firstname.lastname@example.org