Press Releases

Young Leaders from Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia Selected for Inaugural USA Pavilion @ EXPO 2020 Fellows Program

Sponsored by PepsiCo, The PepsiCo Foundation, the USA Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, Observer Research Foundation America, and Observer Research Foundation, the program will empower a new network of young leaders driving global change DUBAI, UAE, Sept. 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — PepsiCo and its philanthropic arm, The PepsiCo Foundation, alongside the USA Pavilion at Expo […]

Sponsored by PepsiCo, The PepsiCo Foundation, the USA Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, Observer Research Foundation America, and Observer Research Foundation, the program will empower a new network of young leaders driving global change

DUBAI, UAE, Sept. 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — PepsiCo and its philanthropic arm, The PepsiCo Foundation, alongside the USA Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, are proud to announce the launch of the USA Pavilion @ EXPO 2020 Fellows Program. The Fellows Program is focused on empowering and educating young global leaders tackling the world’s most pressing socioeconomic issues by helping them hone their leadership and problem-solving skills.

Funded by a $500,000 (1,836,600 AED) grant from The PepsiCo Foundation, the seven month-long program is hosted by the USA Pavilion @ Expo 2020 and brings together 40 young leaders from 20 countries across the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia (MENASA). Focused on global issues explored at Expo 2020 Dubai – including trade, sustainability, and future cities – the program aims to foster dialogue across the MENASA region, spur debate, and ultimately enable the Fellows to build communities and solutions that will respond to the contemporary challenges that confront us all.

Participants are leaders who have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to improving the lives of those around them. They were nominated by U.S. diplomatic missions from participating countries and selected through a competitive application process run by the Observer Research Foundation America (ORF America), and Observer Research Foundation (ORF).

Eugene Willemsen, CEO of PepsiCo, Africa, Middle East, and South Asia, noted, “At PepsiCo, we are committed to raising the bar on talent and diversity. We want to inspire the next generation of leaders to help address issues of global importance and create a better future for us all. The Fellows Program will serve as a launching pad for exchanging and inspiring new perspectives and enable the next generation of leaders to achieve their full potential, enter today’s workforce and be successful.”

The four-phase program commences with virtual orientation sessions led by pavilion leaders that will introduce Fellows and lay the building blocks for their global network. Following virtual sessions, Fellows will be flown to Expo 2020 Dubai where they will meet with pavilion leaders, participate in panel discussions, and network across Expo. At Expo 2020, Fellows will also participate in hands-on instructional sessions that mirror a dynamic classroom style, and includes the development of a group project that Fellows will work on throughout the duration of the program.  For those unable to travel due to the ongoing pandemic, a virtual program has been developed to ensure they receive the same benefits as others.

Following their visit to Dubai, Fellows will return home and participate in a digital bootcamp led by AstroLabs, a company committed to building capabilities and upskilling individuals across the region. Designed as a virtual bridge between in-person segments, this phase will focus on mentoring the Fellows as they complete their individual and group projects. The program culminates in a fourth phase consisting of five days of in-person development at Expo 2020 Dubai, including the presentation of group projects. It is expected that more than 2,000 people will benefit from the work carried out in this program.

“The potential of these regional leaders knows no bounds, and with this program we will build an expansive network that will empower these young people and give them the tools and resources they need to advance their existing work,” said C.D. Glin, Vice President, The PepsiCo Foundation and Global Head of Philanthropy, PepsiCo. “Already, these leaders have proven to be catalysts of change in their home countries, and with the Expo 2020 Fellows Program, we will ensure that this incredible work can be further amplified in a way that will touch the lives of thousands. We are proud to be a founding member of this program and believe that it will serve as a global model moving forward.”

Upon completion of the program, participants will become part of the U.S. Department of State  exchange program alumni network. This community will allow the Fellows to engage with others who can provide guidance as they explore ways to be agents of change in their communities. Through their involvement in this distinguished program, Fellows will be integrated into larger ORF communities, including the Raisina Young Fellows Programme, also known as the Asian Forum on Global Governance, and have the opportunity to build multiple communities in and outside of the MENASA region.

Deputy Commissioner General for the USA Pavilion, Matthew K. Asada, emphasized the opportunity for leadership development and entrepreneurial growth across the region saying, “The USA PAVILION @ EXPO 2020 FELLOWS PROGRAM offers a unique environment for young leaders from the Middle East and South Asia for skill development.  Expo 2020 Dubai is the first world’s fair in the region, and we’re excited to build on the global gathering’s location as a connecting point for countries to highlight their best and brightest people, innovations, and ways of living.  The USA Pavilion is proud to host this first exchange program of its kind as we tell our story of ‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of the Future.’”

ORF America Executive Director, Dhruva Jaishankar expressed, “ORF America is proud to be involved in this exciting new initiative in its first year of operation.  The Fellows Program will help foster a dynamic network of young professionals from across a pivotal region of the world, thereby helping the understanding and appreciation of sustainability, globalization, entrepreneurship, and innovation in a world changed by COVID.”

About PepsiCo
PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers more than one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world.  PepsiCo generated more than $70 billion in net revenue in 2020, driven by a complementary food and beverage portfolio that includes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker, and Tropicana. PepsiCo’s product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including 23 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales.

Guiding PepsiCo is our vision to Be the Global Leader in Convenient Foods and Beverages by Winning with Purpose.  “Winning with Purpose” reflects our ambition to win sustainably in the marketplace and embed purpose into all aspects of our business strategy and brands.  For more information, visit

About The PepsiCo Foundation
Established in 1962, The PepsiCo Foundation, the philanthropic arm of PepsiCo, invests in the essential elements of a sustainable food system with a mission to support thriving communities. Working with non-profits and experts around the globe, we’re focused on helping communities obtain access to food security, safe water and economic opportunity. We strive for tangible impact in the places where we live and work—collaborating with industry peers, local and international organizations, and our employees to affect large-scale change on the issues that matter to us and are of global importance. Learn more at

About the USA Pavilion
The USA Pavilion at Expo 2020 will celebrate the theme, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of the Future.” Exhibits will showcase the freedoms and opportunities that built a dynamic and open society, paving the way for American innovation and prosperity.  Expo 2020 Dubai is scheduled to run from October 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022.  For more information, please visit

About ORF America
ORF America was established in 2020 as an independent, non-partisan public policy institute based in Washington DC.  It is an overseas affiliate of the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), India’s premier non-government think tank.  Its objectives are to provide impactful research and commentary on issues of global relevance; strengthen cooperation between the developed and developing worlds; bridge diverse policy communities; and develop policy networks based on shared values.  For more information, please visit

About ORF
Based in New Delhi, the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) is one of Asia’s most influential think tanks driving policy discussions across India, Asia, and now globally.  ORF seeks to lead and aid policy thinking towards building a strong and prosperous India in a fair and equitable world.  For more information, please visit

About Expo 2020 Dubai
From 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022, Expo 2020 Dubai will welcome visitors from every corner of the globe to join the making of a new world, as it brings together the planet in one place to reimagine tomorrow.

  • With the purpose of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future,’ Expo 2020 will be the world’s most impactful global incubator for new ideas, catalyzing an exchange of new perspectives and inspiring action to deliver real-life solutions to real-world challenges
  • Expo 2020 will provide a visually striking and emotionally inspiring 182 days, as more than 200 participants – including nations, multilateral organizations, businesses, and educational institutions, as well as millions of visitors – create the largest and most diverse World Expo ever
  • Expo 2020’s sub-themes of Opportunity, Mobility, and Sustainability will inspire visitors to preserve and protect our planet, explore new frontiers and build a better future for everyone
  • Expo is committed to building a more equitable and just world for everyone, while keeping visitors safe by following the latest guidance of the world’s leading medical, science, and health experts
  • Expo 2020 is the first World Expo to take place in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (MEASA) region, located on a 4.38 sqkm site adjacent to Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai South
  • Built with a meaningful and measurable long-term legacy in mind, the Expo site will transform into District 2020 – a model global community that will rethink the cities of the future – after Expo 2020 closes its doors
  • Visit:

About AstroLabs

Established in 2013, AstroLabs is dedicated to driving digital growth in companies and people. Offerings include classes in digital and tech through AstroLabs Academy, custom-designed startup programs for large corporates and governments, and collaborative coworking communities in Dubai and Riyadh. AstroLabs also seeks to spur growth by helping organizations rapidly recruit superstars for their digital teams through AstroLabs Talent, and expand into the UAE and KSA through local company setup and soft-landing offices.