Thunderbird to kick off first program for Jordanian women

October 12, 2009

Women entrepreneurs given skills they need to launch and grow their businesses

Twenty women entrepreneurs and businesswomen from Jordan will advance their business skills by attending Thunderbird School of Global Management Oct. 19-30 as participants in the inaugural Supporting Entrepreneurs and Enterprise Development Seminar (SEEDS). The program provides women with intensive entrepreneurial education, coaching, mentoring and access to resources that allow them to start or grow small businesses in their homeland.

The program is made possible by a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development to the Business Development Center in Jordan in 2008 through the USAID funded Business and Export Development Project for Jordanian Enterprises, Tatweer. The partnership also brings Thunderbird’s business education expertise into Jordan through executive education, scholarships for Jordanian students, and specialized training for Jordanian business owners.

“SEEDS is a unique opportunity for women in Jordan to gain exposure to a more global business environment while on Thunderbird’s campus and to see how business is done in the United States,” said Melissa Beran Samuelson, director of the program.

The program caters to the needs of two different types of women. Half of the women are in the first stages of establishing strong businesses and will focus on business plan development. Others are experienced businesswomen looking for effective growth and leadership strategies. Both groups will attend seminars that provide women with skills in leadership, marketing, management and finance. These seminars are developed and conducted by Thunderbird faculty and successful women entrepreneurs. Guest speakers and site visits will bring additional real-world experience into the program.

Prior to the start of the two-week program, each participant is matched with a mentor who has achieved success within the same or similar industry. The mentors will arrive for the last three days of the program to meet and work with the participants in person.

The women who attend this program have a variety of ideas and experiences and work in industries such as handicrafts, publishing, consulting, construction, security systems and consumer products. When they return to Jordan, they will have the tools to build not only their own business, but also to serve as role models to other aspiring businesswomen.

“We’re excited to expand on our successful strategic partnership with Thunderbird by providing a slew of critically important new global business programs,” said Nayef Stetieh, president & CEO of BDC. “Thunderbird has a distinguished history of preparing business professionals for international success. The BDC, through USAID funding, is proud to empower Jordanian professionals to take their businesses global. In addition, the new programs, such as the SEEDS program will allow the Jordanian women to benefit from an intensive training and mentorship program we believe will help them grow and sustain their businesses. This program reflects USAID ‘s commitment to empowering Jordanian women, whether by building their capacities, enhancing the competiveness of their business or by providing them with direct technical and business development services.”

A graduation ceremony will be held at the program’s conclusion.

“This program gives participants three main pillars that will impact the growth of their business,” Samuelson said. “Students receive classroom time, exposure to other female business leaders and mentorship.”

Some of the women attending the SEEDS program are:

  • Hala Shalan, who is deputy general manager and owner of Ideal Trading Group Company. The business sells, installs and services fire safety and security systems in residential and commercial buildings.
  • Muna Hindiyeh, who received a doctorate in environmental engineering. She wants to start a recycling and waste management company in Jordan that will employ poverty-stricken individuals in an effort to collect and recycle materials.
  • Lina Khalifeh, who is marketing manager at her family’s business that sells high-end educational and presentation aids such as writing boards and projection screens. 
  • Rima Qunsol, who co-founded Qunsol & Associates For Interior Design and Architecture in 1996.  

SEEDS is managed by the Walker Center for Global Entrepreneurship at Thunderbird ( in partnership with the Business Development Center in Jordan. A blog of the women’s daily activities and experiences during SEEDS can be found on the Walker Center blog at