HOPE New York Market CEO Mary Hagerty Ehrsam Discusses Entrepreneurship for African Youth


While Operation HOPE’s network of national HOPE centers and programming emphasizes a commitment to financial dignity throughout the United States, we are equally proud of our commitment to the advancement of young entrepreneurs globally. Through both programming and consultation, we help young people contribute to the growth of their communities.

Mary Hagerty Ehrsam, who serves as the President of Youth Empowerment and Chief Executive Officer of Operation HOPE’s New York market, participated last week in the U.S. Department of State and Meridian International Center Young African Leaders Innovation Summit in Washington DC. Panelists discussed ways in which the United States could assist Africa’s youth population to enrich their potential to contribute to economic, social, and political development across the continent.

The Summit hosted sixty-two young African social and business entrepreneurs and built on the First Lady’s Young African Women’s Leaders Forum in June, 2011. Mrs. Ehrsam served as a panelist on the Financial Management Tools for SMEs (Small Medium Enterprises) moderated by Assistant Administrator and Special Advisor for Innovation, U.S. SBA, along side fellow panelist, Leanne Viviers, SME Toolkit Program Manager, International Finance Corporation.

Ehrsam focused her remarks on the importance of young entrepreneurs investing in themselves while they invest in their businesses. Since over 60% of SMEs are self-funded from personal resources, Ehrsam argued that the vitality of the individual entrepreneur is fundamental for the success of his or her small business.

Mrs. Ehrsam emphasized the importance of services like HOPE’s Business in a Box in the wellbeing of young African entrepreneurs. Interventions like HOPE Business in a Box, which provides young people both the capital and skills to create a small business, make it easier for young people to live a life of dignity while living out their entrepreneurial dreams.

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