Current Issue / DU Alumni

Alumna Jill Marquardt visited Africa as part of Digital Freedom Iniative

When she completed her graduate studies, Jill Marquardt, MBA ’02, thought it was a great time to do what she always regretted not doing after her undergraduate studies—explore the world.

After spending six months in Costa Rica, Marquardt had an opportunity to go to Senegal for three months as part of the Digital Freedom Initiative project, a joint program of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, USA Freedom Corps and the Peace Corps.

“I’d been intrigued by Africa for some time—the business climate, history, politics, culture—and also liked the idea of promoting economic growth through technology and small business development,” Marquardt says.

Marquardt’s work involved assessing the needs of telecenters and cyber cafés. Because the high cost of having a computer, Internet access or even a phone line in the house is beyond the reach of most Senegalese, these businesses have grown tremendously in the past five years.

“It was really eye opening and inspiring to see first-hand the business potential in Africa,” Marquardt says. “Many people tend to look at Africa and see only the problems and challenges, but not the opportunities.”

Marquardt returned from Senegal in February 2004 and now works in project development for a communications firm in Washington, D.C.




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