State expands E-Mentor Corps

Friday - 9/3/2010, 10:40am EDT

Steven Koltai, Senior Advisor, Global Entrepreneurship Program, State Department

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By Olivia Branco
Internet Editor
Federal News Radio

The State Department is looking at new ways to expand foreign policy.

Steven Koltai, the senior advisor of the Global Entrepreneurship Program joined The Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris to discuss the new program and what it means both here and abroad.

The mentoring program brings prominent U.S. Companies including IBM, Intel and Earnst and Young together with budding entrepreneurs from developing countries.

"(It) is devoted to bolstering economic development and particularly creating jobs for those developing countries that have very substantial unemployment, particularly youth unemployment. It stems originally with a focus on Muslim-majority countries and is an outgrowth of President Obama's famous speech in Cairo in june 2009 where he announced a new beginning for the U.S. to interact with Muslim countries around the world."

The program, only months old, already has a solid network of partners through the world that it uses.

"We're using all of those partners, which include everything from civic organizations, universities, technical institutions," Koltai said, "and of course we are also sending thousands direct emails to our own network for example including students who have come to or from the US and have studied entrepreneurship"

Koltai said the program is best compared to an online dating site. The more open and honest you are, the better chance the mentorship will be beneficial and helpful.

The program is entirely free and simply requires the entrepreneur to explain exactly what sort of help they are looking for. It could be with business plans, financing, logistics, sourcing or marketing.

The benefits of the program are simple. For the entrepreneurs, they have access to some of the top companies.

And for the mentors?

"(They) get the satisfaction of having helped an entrepreneur in a developing country. This is very much a give back sort of process. In this case, for people that have business experience, who are interested in helping the U.S. government achieve one of our objectives which is to provide economic growth and the jobs and frankly the political stability and growth of civil society that all those things bring."

"Entrepreneurship is central to the fiber of American culture that is not necessarily true in developing countries. So one of the things that we are trying to do in the Obama administration is use this old-fashioned, American entrepreneurial spirit in our foreign policy."

For more information, check out the State Department website.