DAI Leader Supports Safe Haven Initiative for Ukrainian Women Entrepreneurs

July 13, 2022

A DAI Chief of Party from a project in Georgia is volunteering his time to help women entrepreneurs in Ukraine.

Mark McCord in action-84da06.jpg Mark McCord, who leads the U.S. Agency for International Development Economic Security Program in Georgia, has partnered with representatives of a Silicon Valley accelerator called US Market Access Center and with StartupGrind Georgia to launch the Safe Haven initiative—in coordination with a DAI-led sister project in Ukraine, the Economic Resilience Activity.

The initiative will enable 12 female university entrepreneurs, mostly from eastern Ukraine, to participate in a 12-month immersive innovation and university experience in Georgia. The initiative could grow to as many as 20 entrepreneurs before the end of the summer.

“I approached [ERA Chief of Party] Tim Madigan and the team at ERA Ukraine to determine their interest,” said McCord. “Tim and his team embraced the initiative immediately, allowing it to gain momentum, after we brought on board other partners including a major Georgian bank, hotel group, transportation companies, universities, and private citizens to make the Safe Haven initiative a reality.”

The 12 women are due to arrive in Georgia in mid-July to participate in a summer acceleration experience in which they will fine-tune their own startup ideas; work with Georgian counterparts to design a concept to aid in the economic reconstruction of Ukraine once the war ends; participate in a European Innovation Academy Boot Camp in Batumi, Georgia, where faculty from the University of California at Berkeley’s Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology will provide acceleration services and market access to 100 international and Georgian entrepreneurs; and continue their university studies with free tuition and fees provided by Georgian partner universities.

“The Safe Haven initiative would not be possible without support from Tim and his team at ERA Ukraine, as well as support from DAI headquarters,” McCord said. “These young women will have the opportunity to change their lives and also participate directly in the rebuilding of their country because of the vision and generosity of DAI, the ERA Ukraine team, and the initiative’s many supporters.”

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