IVLP Alumni Spotlight features U.S. Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) alumni as they reflect on the impact of the program and how it has affected their work and lives. Here we feature one alumna who participated in a regional project examining entrepreneurship. The participant spent three weeks in the United States exploring the roles and work of public, private and non-governmental organizations, trade association and grassroots organizations in supporting and empowering women.
Visitor: Ms. Asma Alaoui
Title: Chief Executive Officer, Africa Key Partners; Founder, Rose 66
Country of Origin: Morocco
Itinerary: Chicago, IL; Santa Fe, NM; Albuquerque, NM; Tampa, FL; Washington, DC
IVLP Project: Entrepreneurship as the Engine of Prosperity and Stability: Women Fostering Economic Stability, Regional Project, 2015
What have you been up to since your IVLP experience?
When I returned home I founded an NGO that I named after my IVLP experience – Rose 66. Several of the cities we went to are located on Route 66, such as Chicago, Santa Fe and Albuquerque. In Santa Fe I met an American Indian named Rose, who was a real source of inspiration for me.
Rose 66 helps “roses” (women) achieve success and become financially independent. Each rose benefits from individual support and coaching, either to find a job or to become an entrepreneur and start her own business. We identify the roses that need to be empowered, raise awareness about the importance of women’s empowerment, and coach them to achieve success and financial independence through our network of volunteer and mentors. We also hold meetings and events with them.
I have also started Africa Key Partners, a marketing consulting firm, to help international brands gain a foothold and grow in Africa.
My whole life changed after my IVLP experience. I left my marketing director position at General Motors and became an entrepreneur – inspired by the title of my IVLP program: Entrepreneurship as the Engine of Prosperity and Stability.
What one lesson that you learned or idea that you gained on your IVLP experience have you started to apply in your organization or your work? To take risks! Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new, as we heard during the project.
Also, to build cross-cultural teams for better results. Since my IVLP experience, I’ve been launching new platforms, trying new projects, working with new people and building teams from different backgrounds and cultures.
What message would you like to share with the people who hosted and met with you in the US?
I was very impressed by how open they are, their willingness to discover different people, different cultures …and I welcome them all to visit us in Morocco, firstname.lastname@example.org.