International Studies & Programs

MSU and African partners receive U.S. Department of State grant to empower Eastern and Southern African women in agribusiness

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Published: Tuesday, 18 Jan 2022

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Michigan State University, in partnership with the University of Rwanda, University of Zambia, University of Pretoria, and Chinhoyi University of Technology in Zimbabwe, was recently awarded a U.S. Department of State Professional Fellows Program grant to increase women’s economic empowerment in Rwanda, Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and the U.S. Alliance for African Partnership will be the home for the program, which will be implemented in partnership with MSU’s Department of Community Sustainability and AgBioResearch in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.


The Advancing Young Women Agribusiness Entrepreneurs and Innovators program will bring 24 young agri-preneurs and other professionals who support them to the U.S. for an intensive five-week program. Aimed at building the fellows skills in agri-entrepreneurship and agri-food system innovation, the program also addresses economic empowerment.


While in Michigan, fellows will take part in individually tailored professional experiences with local and state government agencies, agrobusinesses and nonprofit organizations. They will also engage with U.S. leaders in economic development and in the food and agriculture sector. Michigan-based host organizations will then participate in a reciprocal exchange trip to the partner countries to visit their fellows and learn from African leaders in the agribusiness sector.


Dr. Rob Glew, associate dean for academic programs for MSU’s International Studies and Programs said, “hosting multilateral exchange programs such as the PFP is essential to our mission of creating global citizens on-campus and builds upon over six decades of MSU collaborating with African institutions to innovate solutions to our shared challenges.”


This program is one of several awarded under the U.S. Department of State’s Professional Fellows Program (PFP). The PFP is designed to promote mutual understanding, enhance leadership and professional skills, as well as build lasting, sustainable partnerships between mid-level emerging leaders from other countries and the United States. This is MSU’s second PFP award, having previously hosted 59 fellows from Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.


“We recognize the critical role emerging leaders—especially women—play in their communities and countries and we are honored to help foster their development and prosperity through social and economic empowerment,” said Wynne Wright, associate professor of Community Sustainability and Sociology at MSU.


The next generation of leaders—particularly in Eastern and Southern African nations, where agribusiness and entrepreneurial forces are growing—can sustain recent economic gains, help encourage wealth creation and lead to more a resilient and inclusive future for Africa.

To learn more about the Professional Fellows Program please visit: U.S. Department of State: eca-press(at)

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