In the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we are re-posting an article from Fulbright Foreign Student and 2014 Fulbright-Millennial Trains participant from Yemen Ammar Mohammed, whose research in sustainable development focuses on promoting the leadership and entrepreneurship of African-Yemenis – a marginalized population in Yemen. We hope the Fulbright community is inspired by Ammar Mohammed’s – and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s – work in promoting positive change within their communities.
We are living the most technologically advanced generation of all times – yet have some of the most pressing challenges in the history of humanity – be it economic, environmental, social, or political. As a Fulbright Student in sustainable development, I always contemplate the solutions for those challenges. I believe that a sustainable solution is a combination of addressing the above challenges. I see social entrepreneurship as the key to solving economic and social challenges—putting into account preserving the environment—that creates new markets and promotes social integration and participation. Entrepreneurs are leaders who transform communities. Entrepreneurs can also multiply their impact by lobbying the government for more support for young people and legislation that encourages entrepreneurial ideas. I believe that this hybrid model of social entrepreneurship and policy advocacy will be my first priority to tackling present challenges.
During the past year, I’ve come to see how this generation has diversified mindsets. There is a tendency to change the status quo through various means available exclusively to the Millennial generation. There are numerous campaign initiatives to improve the life of the less fortunate and for social justice around the world. The most striking aspect, however, is that this generation tends to shift entrepreneurship to be more socially oriented, using technology to that end. Social entrepreneurship, crowd-funding and impact investing show how a business can solve a social challenge and at the same time be profitable. In fact, this is one aspect I will definitely take back with me to Yemen and work to promote it.
In my MTP project, I will seek to answer a question, “How do we integrate marginalized people in Yemen and what do they need to reach their potential?” To answer those questions, I will focus primarily on initiatives that gave the marginalized populations in the U.S. the opportunity to set up their own entrepreneurial ventures and how this economic activity is reflected on the micro and macro levels. I believe that the research will yield great results on how to design initiatives of integrating African-Yemenis in the society through leadership and entrepreneurship so that they can change the status quo through policy campaigns and social enterprises.
As the MTP greater mission is to benefit, inspire and serve others, I can see how this research project and the ensuing project proposals will benefit directly the marginalized as well as raise awareness in Yemen of the potential of marginalized youth’s contribution to the economic and social development. Such experience will also inspire other fellow Yemenis and Fulbrighters from different countries to apply to this enriching experience and benefit their respective communities. My research intentions also fit the MTP’s mission as I plan to share my research with interested organizations in Yemen and the U.S. The research outcomes will also be used to design proposals with some local organizations so I could put what I learned into action supporting the marginalized populations of Yemen.