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25 Million Sparks: Andrew Leon Hanna on Refugee Entrepreneurship

Book talk with Entrepreneur and Author Andrew Leon Hanna and Executive Director of the Immigration Policy Lab, Dr. Adam Lichtenheld.

Event Details:

Thursday, October 26, 2023
12:00pm - 1:00pm PDT


Gunn SIEPR Building


This event is open to:

General Public
Trade and Migration
work, Entrepreneurship, and finance

The King Center on Global Development and the Immigration Policy Lab invited the Stanford community to hear from Andrew Leon Hanna, entrepreneur, author, and professor, about his book 25 Million Sparks: The Untold Story of Refugee Entrepreneurs (Cambridge University Press). A Financial Times Best Book of the Year, it tells the stories of Asma, Malak, and Yasmina, three Syrian women entrepreneurs living in the Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan. Building from these personal stories, the book discusses the broader refugee crisis and the research behind why refugees are 1.5 to 2 times more entrepreneurial than native-born citizens, traveling to more than 20 camps and cities around the world to show the magnitude of refugees’ contributions to their adoptive homes.

“Refugees are among the most entrepreneurial people on Earth, despite facing the most extreme challenges. But beyond relaying the major economic value refugees provide and the incredible talents they possess, this book seeks to tell a human story that points to a more important truth: refugees are equal human beings deserving of dignity, simply for who they are.” 
—Andrew Leon Hanna

After reading a passage from the book, Andrew Leon Hanna was joined in conversation by Adam Lichtenheld, Executive Director of the Immigration Policy Lab at Stanford University. They discussed the refugee entrepreneurship phenomenon highlighted in the book before opening up the discussion to questions from the audience.

11:30 AM - 12:00 PM Lunch and Book Sale and Signing 
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM Conversation and Q&A

About the Speaker:

Andrew Leon Hanna, Award-Winning Entrepreneur and Author

Andrew Leon Hanna

Andrew Leon Hanna is a first-generation Egyptian-American entrepreneur, Harvard-trained lawyer, Financial Times award-winning author, and adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He is the founder of Mona, a global social venture that connects underrepresented entrepreneurs with access to capital, distribution opportunities, product investment, and design support. Andrew is also the co-founder of DreamxAmerica, which connects immigrant, refugee, and first-gen entrepreneurs to zero-interest loans and whose documentary short film on PBS was nominated for a Chicago Emmy® Award. His debut book, 25 Million Sparks: The Untold Story of Refugee Entrepreneurs (Cambridge University Press), was named a Financial Times Best Book of the Year and won the Bracken Bower Prize in its proposal form. It has been called “a powerful story of hope” by Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee; a chance to “discover humanity at its best” by PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff, “inspir[ing]”; “sharply topical, “original,” and “novelistic” by the Financial Times; and “uplifting” by Publishers Weekly.

Hanna received an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he was an Arjay Miller Scholar, Knight-Hennessy Scholar, and Siebel Scholar; a J.D. with honors from Harvard Law School, where he was an Editor of the Harvard Law Review; and an A.B. with highest distinction from Duke University, where he was a Robertson Scholar. He has been named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 List, and his work has been featured in or on the BBC, PBS, Fast Company, Forbes, Financial Times, and more.

About the Moderator:

Adam Lichtenheld, Executive Director of the Immigration Policy Lab (IPL)

Adam L Lichtenheld

Dr. Adam Lichtenheld is the Executive Director of the Immigration Policy Lab (IPL) at Stanford University. In collaboration with the faculty co-directors, Lichtenheld leads IPL’s global research and innovation agenda. He also designs and guides the experiential training that IPL provides for postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduates at Stanford. He brings to IPL wide-ranging experience working at the nexus between policy and research on migration and some of its underlying causes, including conflict and violence.

Lichtenheld received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and he is an affiliated scholar at the Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University. He has published studies on forced displacement, conflict, and evidence-based interventions in journals such as International Organization, the British Journal of Political Science, Political Geography, and Economics & Politics, along with media outlets like the Washington Post and Foreign Policy. Prior to joining IPL, Lichtenheld led research teams and projects for the humanitarian NGO Mercy Corps; served as a senior conflict advisor for the World Bank; taught courses on migration and conflict at Berkeley and Yale University; and worked as a research analyst for USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives in Syria. His approach to research, leadership, and management is informed by his deep policy engagement and close collaboration with local researchers, non-profits, and displaced populations in more than a dozen countries.

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