Claflin University Establishes Partnership With University of Calcutta To Promote Eco-friendly Entrepreneurship Development Among Women in West Bengal, India

Dec 04, 2015
In another example of Claflin University’s effort to strengthen its global initiatives, Provost Dr. Karl S. Wright and three faculty members traveled to India for the inauguration of the U.S.-India 21st Century Knowledge Initiative Project in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta).  In addition to Wright, the Claflin contingent included Dr. Harpal Grewal, Dr. Mitali Wong, and Dr. Benjamin Yumol.
Claflin Participants in India Trip

During their visit, Claflin established a partnership with the University of Calcutta and collaborated on an entrepreneurship development project titled, Promoting Eco-friendly Entrepreneurship Development Among Women in West Bengal, India. The University of Calcutta was awarded a grant for approximately $250,000 for three years to train and support sustainable entrepreneurial development among urban women from diverse communities in the state of West Bengal. The grant proposal was originally developed by Grewal, Wong, and two faculty members from the University of Calcutta -- Dr. Sanjukta Dasgupta (principal investigator), professor of English and Dr. Ishita Mukhopadhay (co-principal investigator), professor of economics and director of the Women Studies Research Centre. 

"The Indo-U.S. international grant program was started four years ago," said Wong, a graduate of the University of Calcutta. "Each year, eight projects are funded. Claflin is the only HBCU selected for funding."

The other U.S. universities selected are University of Illinois, Indiana University, UCLA-Berkeley, Tufts University, Mississippi State University, Chicago State University, and University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

"The Indian Women’s Eco-Entrepreneurship Program (IWEP) is an outreach, education, and engagement initiative that will focus on Indian women entrepreneurs to promote business growth and increase trade both regionally and internationally," said Grewal.  "The goal also is to create better business environments and empower Indian women entrepreneurs to become voices of change in their communities. There will be an emphasis on promoting environmental sustainability through the development of recycling micro business among women."

Claflin's participation in the project further enhances the University's growing international reputation in academia and research.   The partnership with the University of Calcutta, which was founded in 1857 as the first university of modern India, expands the global perspectives of Claflin students and faculty who will visit India to conduct research to achieve the goals of the grant.   Claflin has other faculty and student exchange programs with universities in Brazil (2), Kenya, Portugal, China and Taiwan.  During the 2014-2015 academic year, Claflin students participated in study abroad programs in Great Britain, Brazil, India, Japan, Columbia, Argentina, Italy, South Africa, Spain, Australia and China.

"A specific objective of the grant is to establish long-term collaboration between the University of Calcutta and Claflin to build capacity and expertise among the faculty in sustainable eco-entrepreneurship," said Grewal.  "Faculty from both institutions will conduct research on the data collected from the programs.  The University of Calcutta will host an annual conference to promote research on sustainable entrepreneurship with women’s eco-entrepreneurship as a significant area of focus. This project will not only promote eco-friendly entrepreneurship development but also create long term collaboration between the two institutions in the areas of environment friendly small/micro business research and community development."

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