Resilience and Resourcefulness: Entrepreneurial Success in Times of Crisis

6.18.2020, 9:00AM


No matter the environment or person, being an entrepreneur is a challenge and in times of crisis, these challenges are only exacerbated. In light of the outbreak of COVID-19, businesses around the world and of all sizes are adjusting to the “new normal” brought about. Preceding the outbreak of the pandemic, the world is in the midst of the worst refugee crisis since World War II and Turkey is at the epicenter. Often the skills that are helpful in navigating a new country in the first place can be pivotal in entrepreneurial success during times of crisis like that which we are experiencing today. To address the global refugee crisis, CIPE and a Consortium of international partners developed the Livelihoods Innovation through Food Entrepreneurship (LIFE) Project. The LIFE Project supports and encourages entrepreneurship, job creation, and cross-cultural engagement in the food sector in Turkey.

Join us for a conversation about how entrepreneurs, and those from the LIFE Project, in particular, are navigating the unexpected and are adapting and innovating to not only survive but thrive, in these challenging times. You can also listen to our latest podcast on the LIFE Project here.

Introductory remarks by Karen Kerrigan– President & CEO, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council and CIPE Board Member
For nearly twenty years Karen Kerrigan’s leadership and advocacy has helped foster U.S. entrepreneurship and global small business growth. She is president & CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, and is the group’s chief advocate. Kerrigan is a board member and former chair of the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE).


Moderator: Marie Principe- Program Officer, Middle East and North Africa, CIPE

Marie Principe is a Program Officer for the Middle East & North Africa at CIPE. In this role, she manages the Livelihoods Innovation through Food Entrepreneurship (LIFE) Project. With more than 10 years of experience working in the Middle East and North Africa, her work primarily focuses on economic and political empowerment in fragile political environments, and especially the economic empowerment of women. Prior to joining CIPE, Principe was with the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative at the Wilson Center and, before that, an Iraqi women-owned development consulting company in Baghdad, Iraq. Principe holds a Master of Arts in International Law and Diplomacy (MALD) from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, and a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science from Appalachian State University in North Carolina.

Dr. Eric Fretz- Faculty Affiliate, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan

Eric Fretz, PhD, is a Faculty Affiliate with WDI and teaches at the University of Michigan in Psychology, Education, Engineering, and Entrepreneurship. He teaches the core course in UM’s #1 ranked Entrepreneurship program, having coached over 2500 students in small teams to create innovative products and businesses. He owns and manages two small businesses and two small charitable organizations. Fretz is retired from 20 years of service as a commissioned officer in the United States Navy, and serves in multiple volunteer roles supporting Veterans.

Cullen Gilchrist- CEO and Founder, Union Kitchen

Cullen Gilchrist is the CEO and Co-Founder of Union Kitchen. Gilchrist oversees the operations and management of Union Kitchen’s accelerator program, commercial kitchen, distribution company, and grocery stores. Gilchrist graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College and founded Union Kitchen in 2012.

Guler Altinsoy- CEO and Co-Founder, IDEMA

Guler Altinsoy is the CEO and Founder of IDEMA. She has over than 15 years of experience in international development in Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt working with Save the Children, Habitat, and UNDP. Altınsoy is an entrepreneur, co-founded IDEMA – International Development Management, Needsmap – Platform Cooperative and INOGAR – a social cooperative and incubation center for social platforms. Altınsoy holds a MSc in Development Studies.

Nour Akkad- LIFE Project Coordinator, CIPE

Nour Akkad is the Mersin-based Project Coordinator for the LIFE Project with CIPE. Originally from Aleppo, Syria, Akkad studied Economics at the University of Aleppo and has lived in Turkey for the past seven years. Prior to joining CIPE, she was a Senior Project Officer and has experience working with humanitarian organizations where she coordinated livelihoods programs and built the capacity of partner organizations. Akkad knows the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Mersin and is well connected to the Syrian entrepreneur community and food sector in Mersin as her relatives own a chocolate factory in the city.

Closing remarks by Johanna Mendelson Forman – PhD
Johanna Mendelson Forman, PhD is an Adjunct Professor at American University’s School of International Service. She is also a Distinguished Fellow at the Stimson Center, where she heads the Food Security Program. Her frontline experience as a policy maker on conflict and stabilization efforts drove her interest in connecting the role of food in conflict, resulting in the creation of Conflict Cuisine®: An Introduction to War and Peace Around the Dinner Table. As a Consortium partner of the LIFE Project, she is managing the gastrodiplomacy component of the program to support Syrian refugees and the host community in Turkey who are using food as a tool for social integration. In 2019 she co-edited the LIFE Project cookbook: The Cuisine of LIFE: Recipes and Stories of the New Food Entrepreneurs of Turkey. Mendelson Forman is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She is also a member of Les Dames d ’Escoffier.

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