Insights on Entrepreneurship and Emerging Markets from Former President of Colombia

By Luipa Mondoka, MBA '24

By: Staff
Lourdes Casanova, Ivan Duque and 16 students standing in a lecture hall, smiling and looking at the camera.

Lourdes Casanova, Gail and Roberto Cañizares Director of the Emerging Markets Institute, and Iván Duque (front row, second and third from left) with Johnson Cornell Tech MBA and other students at Cornell Tech’s Tata Innovation Center

Iván Duque, former president of Colombia, 2018-22, and a Distinguished Fellow of the Emerging Markets Institute (EMI) at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, engaged in insightful discussions with students on the Cornell Tech campus in New York City on March 20. Cornell Tech, a hub for tech innovation and entrepreneurial education, welcomed Duque, who emphasized the importance of legality and entrepreneurship during his tenure as Colombia’s president. His visit was particularly focused on entrepreneurship, career planning, goal setting, and understanding the nuances of emerging economies.

During the morning of his visit, Duque engaged in one-on-one conversations with several students, offering them invaluable advice and perspectives from his experiences in governing and promoting growth in a developing country.

Tanisha Kulkarni, MBA ’24, a Johnson Cornell Tech MBA student and Emerging Markets Institute fellow, said she had “a really good chat” with Duque. “We talked about what motivates us in life, discussed setting goals, and exchanged book recommendations,” she said. “We then delved into some aspects of emerging economies.”

Another Johnson Cornell Tech MBA student, Luipa Mondoka, MBA ’24, discussed the opportunities and risks of doing business in emerging markets with Duque. Their conversation explored the lessons emerging African markets could learn from Colombia’s experiences. “It was enlightening to understand the blend of leadership and innovation needed to overcome economic challenges,” Mondoka remarked.

Radical reforms to foster the growth of startups

In the afternoon, Duque delivered a lecture highlighting his commitment to entrepreneurship and economic development to students enrolled in Entrepreneurship and Alternative Finance in Emerging Markets, a class taught by Lourdes Casanova, the Gail and Roberto Cañizares Director of EMI, and Peter Cornelius, managing director at AlpInvest Partners and EMI research fellow. Duque outlined the radical reforms implemented during his presidency to foster the growth of startups in Colombia, including incentives to support startup ecosystems such as reducing the credit period. His talk ended with a lively Q&A session, allowing students to engage directly with Duque over pizza and drinks.

The insights Duque shared were not just theoretical; they were grounded in his practical experiences of driving change and fostering innovation. His interaction with students was not only a testament to his ongoing commitment to education and improving the business climate in emerging markets, but also served as a source of inspiration for the Cornell Tech community. Participating students expressed a renewed motivation to apply the learnings to their own entrepreneurial ventures.

Cornell Tech looks forward to hosting more such interactions that broaden students’ horizons and prepare them for impactful careers. These events underscore the value of having global leaders share their experiences and challenges, enriching the academic environment and encouraging students to play a transformative role in the world.

About Luipa Mondoka, MBA ’24

headshot of Luipa Mondoka.

Luipa Mondoka is a class of 2024 graduate of the Johnson Cornell Tech MBA program at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management and a fellow of both the Emerging Markets Institute and the Institute for African Development at Cornell University. Originally from Zambia, where he was an entrepreneur and a private sector development consultant for the World Bank, Mondoka has a keen interest in the international political economy, the dynamics of emerging markets, and the role of innovation in driving economic growth. He is passionate about his work and actively participates in discussions and initiatives aimed at understanding and leveraging opportunities in global markets.