Entrepreneurial success through cross-cultural education


With each technological advance, the world is shrinking. Companies are no longer limited by geography; in fact, business relationships with clients around the world are becoming the rule and not the exception. This makes a global cultural understanding a workplace requirement and a prerequisite for entrepreneurial success.

Achievement in the world market is improved when a variety of people groups and traditions blend to innovate and create new ideas made possible, not by similarities, but by differences. It is critical, then, for MENA leadership to see expatriates and immigrants as a boon to commerce and to promote cross-cultural education for both adults and children.

Choose to embrace

An important place to begin is with the education of both adults and children. Management training must increasingly include cross-cultural references because industry demands cross-cultural understanding due to its new global nature. Even when many projects are virtual – taking place only via a network of computers and clouds – there is a real need for collaborative human activity.

Expatriates and immigrants must be viewed as a vital ingredient in a blended culture, not as an intrusion. This is especially true in schools. Children are naturally open and curious about new people. Through education, they must be taught to make this kind of open acceptance the norm. It is important to encourage relationships between cultural and racial groups by allowing children to be educated together and to socialize together. Later, as they enter the business world, they will innovate together.

There is a shift-taking place in education from content knowledge to conditions of content creation. When cultural awareness transforms into real cultural appreciation, innovation thrives. This can only occur when children are educated together and not segregated by ethnicity or immigration status.

Choose to learn

Beginning in the late 1960s, Stanford University psychology professor Albert Bandura promoted a concept that he called "Social Learning Theory." The fundamental elements of his theory are more important in this global economy than ever before. Bandura wrote, "Most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling; from observing others, one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for actions."

In a global economy, this happens when people of differing cultural heritages embrace one another, giving attention to how blending elements of each culture can create a positive and mutually beneficial environment. This "cultural intelligence" allows for true collaboration and the interdependence that is necessary for any successful global entrepreneurial enterprise.

Choose to relate

Forming relationships between nationals and non-nationals can develop into beneficial commerce, improving the standard of living and providing more opportunities for both individuals and the country as a whole. Many expatriates and immigrants bring new ideas and perspectives with them, and those can invigorate a society.

Changing attitudes leads to increased collaboration that is mutually profitable. Being an entrepreneur requires the ability to conceive and access new ideas; what better way than to develop relationships with those who have different and fresh perspectives? Expatriates and immigrants frequently have entrepreneurial spirits that benefit the entire society when embraced. Integrating childhood education ensures generations of valuable partnerships, which will help strengthen and stabilize the economy.

Choose to engage

Allowing all children to learn and grow together promotes and fosters engagement. This helps achieve unity among the people, improving the community, which, in turn, benefits the country. Working together encourages the exploration of new ideas, which leads to innovation – an absolute requirement for any country that desires to be a powerful player on the world stage today.

Teaching children to treat all people with respect is a beginning to creating relationships that remove barriers. Entrepreneurial collaboration shows the world a united society, not in spite of cultural differences, but because of them. In their book on global leadership, “Managing Cultural Differences,” Robert Moran and Philip R. Harris say that appreciating cultural heritages through interactive relationships is a key to both peace and prosperity in the 21st century. They promote cultural synergy at all levels of education and well as through community forums, adding, "If bridges are to be built across cultural divides, all must reach out to learn about other religions and countries."

Choose to partner

It is interesting to note that entrepreneurs often have more in common with each other even if they are culturally disconnected. Bringing together two innovative minds with distinct points of view often leads to a stronger product. Similarly, bringing children together who have distinctly different cultures and ethnicities creates a unique and powerful bond between neighbors that ultimately leads to a stronger and more prosperous society.

Fostering a society where entrepreneurial opportunities abound for all cultural and ethnic groups creates networking partnerships that benefit existing businesses and promote new endeavors. A diverse population is a catalyst for new ideas and new business opportunities.

Finally, to move down this road, it is incumbent on all leaders to further the changes in our educational systems that will bring together all the diverse groups our country. In the end, all will enjoy the benefits.


About Hamzeh Al Fuqha:

Hamzeh Al Fuqha is a serial entrepreneur, inventor and angel investor. He founded Next Presentations and co-founded SmartAd. Hamzeh is a frequent speaker at industry seminars and guest lecturer at the American University of Sharjah on entrepreneurship and leadership. He has received several awards and won numerous national public speaking and debating competitions. Hamzeh has trained various public figures and high-level managers on executive communication skills and speech delivery techniques.



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