11 flags blowing in the wind at sunset

Emerging Entrepreneurs Cultivate Skills in UT’s 2021 Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative

  • Apr 30, 2021
  • Jenan Taha

Confronting critical challenges in their communities and home countries, 18 emerging entrepreneurs representing nine countries across Southeast Asia will participate virtually this spring in UT Austin’s Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development program to cultivate their leadership skills as part of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Academic Fellowship, sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) at the U.S. Department of State.

YSEALI is the U.S. government’s signature program to promote cross-border cooperation to solve regional and global challenges across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region. The program allows Fellows to exchange ideas, develop their leadership and teamwork skills and create networks while focusing on critical topics including civic engagement, sustainable development, education and economic growth.

In partnership with the University of Connecticut, Texas Global is providing Fellows with a 7-week virtual program from April 12 – May 27. Session topics include U.S. society and culture, leadership and diversity, business sustainability and economic development, and tips for a social enterprise to help Fellows grow their ventures.

“We are pleased to welcome UT Austin’s first cohort of YSEALI Fellows—a diverse and talented group of innovative leaders committed to addressing complex challenges in their home countries and beyond,” said Sonia Feigenbaum, senior vice provost for global engagement and chief international officer. “The YSEALI program supports Fellows in maximizing their full entrepreneurial potential and broadens the university’s extensive network of stellar U.S. Department of State program alumni.”

This spring’s YSEALI Academic Fellows represent Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Laos, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam. These Fellows will leverage the program to advance their enterprises in fields such as business, fashion, sustainability, education and technology. Upon completion of the program, the Fellows will be eligible to attend a follow-up two-week program in Spring 2022, which will include one week on the UT Austin campus and a one-week cultural study tour of New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

"Throughout the program, Fellows will gain experience working in a collaborative environment to strengthen their leadership skillset and network in Southeast Asia,” said Glenn Robinson, academic director for YSEALI at UT and assistant director of the Global Innovation Lab. “I look forward to learning how these emerging leaders are working to bring about positive change in their local, regional and national ecosystems.”

There are more than 5,000 alumni of YSEALI programs and nearly 150,000 young people in the YSEALI network worldwide. Texas Global has also been awarded grants to administer other programs of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, such as the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders (MWF-YAL) and the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative Professional Fellows Program (YLAI).

Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government, administered by the University of Connecticut (UConn). UT Austin is a sub-grantee of UConn.

For specific information on the YSEALI program at UT Austin, email global@austin.utexas.edu.  For more information about YSEALI, visit https://asean.usmission.gov/yseali. For more information on ECA programs, visit https://exchanges.state.gov, or contact eca-press@state.gov.