Fellow Mary Catherine Boehmer, who’s based in Baku, teamed up with local startup incubator Barama Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center in leading the first of several English for Business & Entrepreneurship online open-course groups. This group of future business leaders and entrepreneurs included the founders and staff of local startups and university students majoring in business and marketing. Participants applied a hands-on approach to learning business English. They conducted informal market research on American services like Green Chef, conducted market research for their own businesses using Google forms, analyzed survey data, and identified whether their product or service met the needs of their target demographic. They also discussed alternative forms for financing business ventures and critiqued pitches from the American TV show Shark Tank.
In Azerbaijan, there is huge income disparity, making it difficult for those who don’t already have resources to become successful in the business world. Securing outside funding can change that. Participants in this series learned how to describe their products and services in English, how to pitch their projects, and—most importantly—how to locate alternative forms of funding for startups. Many of the participants did not realize that funding could come in the form of angel investors, venture capitalists, and microfunding. As entrepreneur Bahruz Ibrahimov put it, “As co-founder of [my own startup], I need to improve my English level ASAP. This course helped us to have strong communication with new investors and achieve new peaks.”