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Entrepreneurship In A Cross-Cultural Context: Summer School EAFIT Colombia – FHNW Switzerland

Innovative business ideas, inspiring exchanges, Swiss raclette and Colombian graffiti: the virtual summer school was a unique experience.

With ongoing travel restrictions, creating an international experience that is interactive and inspiring for students poses quite a challenge. The weeklong summer school with students from FHNW and EAFIT enabled collaboration across great distances and time zones. Here, the participants and organisers share their experience in their own words.

Kourosh Vuarnier (FHNW – MSc Business Information Systems)

Entrepreneurship has always interested and at the same time intimidated me. When I heard about this summer school, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to take a deep dive in the subject. Over the course of a fully packed week, it covers the key aspects of how to successfully develop and implement business ideas. In addition, the collaboration with the EAFIT university in Colombia offers an international and cross-cultural dimension. This makes it an excellent opportunity to learn from other cultures and exchange different ideas. I believe it is important to have a group with different views and backgrounds to create something new, original, and complete.

Although it was a virtual setting, the practical group work where we developed a business idea made the whole week feel very real. What I found important is that there are no bad ideas as long as we stay true to ourselves and come up with a business idea that corresponds to our beliefs and personality.

My biggest takeaway was to learn how to find potential investors and how to pitch an idea for them. It is very different from the presentations we do in class as those have a more academic approach. However, when we pitch, we only have five minutes to convince the audience of our idea.

Virtual raclette session in Switzerland (left) and Colombia (right).

María José Agudelo Cataño (EAFIT – Product Design Engineering)

I am very interested in entrepreneurship and have had already participated in different courses on the subject. The special thing about this programme is that it offers the opportunity to interact with and learn from people from other countries who have different perspectives. That’s very important today as we are constantly connected to the whole world.

It was very nice to work with the professors and students from Switzerland and to exchange different opinions and ways of approaching a problem. I made new friends from Switzerland and from Colombia and hope to see them in person soon.

Presentation by MercaLAB EAFIT.

Marius Giger (FHNW – MSc Computer Science)

Coming from a startup background myself, I am keen on developing new business ideas, innovating, rethinking existing structures and finding solutions to problems. Doing this with people from different backgrounds and cultures is an inspiring and motivated me to participate in the EAFIT-FHNW summer school.

Having a diverse group of people leads to more comprehensive results and solutions. It is very beneficial when developing a business idea, because the hard questions are more likely to be asked. This programme provided new perspectives that I enjoyed a lot, especially because Colombia and Switzerland are quite different culturally. We can definitely learn a lot from each other when we build something together.

Virtual Colombian Graffitour (tour of graffitis and murals).

Prof. Dr. Rolf Meyer (FHNW)

Our students are eager to work in cross-cultural and inter-disciplinary teams. They enjoy being active and developing business models with other students from completely different degree programmes, disciplines, and countries.

Entrepreneurship is my topic and I am always motivated to offer an additional programme to our students with entrepreneurial ambitions. Moreover, I enjoy working together with colleagues from abroad with all the inter-cultural challenges. It can sometimes cause some headache and regularly some unexpected extra work. Still, I find it very rewarding and inspiring and it has led to many friendships.

Summer school introduction and topics.

Prof. Carolina Ardila Lopez (EAFIT)

For me, the best way to contribute to the world’s development is through entrepreneurship. Every person should be able to develop ideas that can improve society, especially in emerging markets such as Colombia, where not enough opportunities exist for everyone. This course gives students, from many different backgrounds and disciplines, the opportunity to find their creative potential, to learn how to handle teams within a cross-cultural environment, to know about feasible funding options and to develop a business model methodology that can lead to success.

Even when being so far away, with different time zones and environments, we could still get together and run a successful course taking advantage of the available technological tools and channels. I enjoyed the cultural moments like the Swiss raclette and the Colombian Graffitour that merged virtual and real spaces.

Virtual city tour of Medellin by bike.

Further information

Website Summer School EAFIT – FHNW