GE2 Virtual Summer Workshop Draws 120 Students from 14 Countries

screenshot of the Zoom screen from the GE2 finale
Faculty and students from the Global Entrepreneurship Exchange program's summer workshop come together on Zoom for the closing pitch contest awards.

By Ed Brennen

Nabihah Khalid’s ambition is to become CEO of her own company someday.

If and when that day comes, the Manning School of Business student says UMass Lowell’s Global Entrepreneurship Exchange (GE2) program will be one of the reasons why.

Khalid was among 120 students from 14 countries who participated in the recent GE2 summer workshop, a free, weeklong, virtual program that teaches students entrepreneurial concepts as they work in teams to build a global venture plan.

Competing against 14 other teams in the culminating pitch contest, Khalid’s team won with “Borrowing Bollywood,” a digital platform that would allow users to buy, sell and rent South Asian clothing.

Khalid, an MBA student, says she came up with the idea after struggling to find ethnic clothing stores in the U.S. that sell garments to wear to South Asian events.

“The GE2 program allowed us to build upon this idea through the use of financial forecasting, marketing, strategic thinking, creative problem-solving and lean design techniques,” she says, referring to the business plan model of testing, reviewing and revising an idea. “We were able to take a deep dive on a simple idea and implement it.”

A female student speaks on webcam while waving her left hand in front of a red curtain
MBA student Nabihah Khalid talks about her group's winning project, "Borrowing Bollywood," during the GE2 summer workshop finale on Zoom.

Khalid’s team included her sister — and fellow MBA student — Nimra Khalid, Nan Su Su Naing from Myanmar, and Sai Kondapalli, Arjun Arora and Gangadeep Rana from India.

India was the best represented country at the workshop with 70 students, followed by Algeria (18), Cambodia (10), China (5) and the U.S. (3). Participants also came from Japan, Myanmar, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Nigeria, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Guyana and the Dominican Republic.

The workshop included 90 minutes of classes and mentoring each morning with Prof. Yi Yang, Assoc. Teaching Prof. Ashwin Mehta, Assoc. Prof. Michael Ciuchta and adjunct faculty members Bill Yelle and David Vatalaro.

Jeurys Santiago, a senior business major from Lawrence, Massachusetts, teamed up with Kunthea Teang from Cambodia to work on “Minds With Purpose,” a venture he started last year to create networking opportunities, such as community service and social events, for local businesses, entrepreneurs and artists.

“It was a great experience learning how students from different countries operate,” Santiago says.

Rabia Tas, who is from Turkey, says finding time to connect and collaborate virtually with her two teammates from India was a lesson in itself.

4 images of the Borrowing Bollywood phone app screens
The Borrowing Bollywood team's winning pitch included mockups of their proposed app.

“It’s not only learning the perspective of marketing or business models, it’s also learning to do something international. It’s time management and so much more,” says Tas, whose team earned second place in the pitch competition for “Check-Box PPE Access,” a government-coordinated service that would provide personal protective equipment to low-income families.

Mehta, GE2’s founding program director, was impressed with how much the students were able to accomplish in just one week. While he hopes GE2 programs can resume in-person next year, he says the virtual events are still valuable.

“Forming the network of connections around the globe, you never know how those will work out for you in your future careers,” he told students.

Khalid is certainly glad she participated.

“No doubt, this program has given me the confidence and resources to pursue my entrepreneurial dreams of being the CEO of my own company,” she says.