From the window of a train, the vast wheat fields of Ukraine looked familiar to Edmond CPA Mike Bell.
“It looks remarkably like western Oklahoma,” Bell said.
Bell is one of a group of local businessmen who have traveled to the Ukraine several times during the past few years with the group Global Leadership Inc. to speak to up-and-coming community and business leaders in the country.
The businessmen keep going back year after year to speak with everyone from university students to local chambers of commerce groups.
The goal of the trips is to foster a new business environment in the country, which still lacks strong business leaders decades after the fall of communism, said Brad Yarbrough, Oklahoma City businessman and Global Leadership Inc. board member.
In Ukraine, businesspeople are often treated with suspicion, Yarbrough said.
“Over there, if you say you are a businessman, they think you are trying to steal from people,” he said.
The group speaks to business leaders and students in the Ukraine the importance of community leadership and the ethical business practices, such as the golden rule.
“For us, something like that is an intrinsic value, but it's a new concept for many people there,” Bell said.
Jesse James, the Atlanta-based founder of the nonprofit Global Leadership Inc. began organizing trips to former Eastern Bloc countries including Ukraine in 1992 with the group Campus Crusade for Christ, now known as CRU.
After founding Global Leadership Inc. in 1997, James began organizing trips for business leaders to Ukraine to help mentor students and business leaders in the country.
Global Leadership is now seeking more men and women in Oklahoma City who want to travel to Ukraine. Women business and community leaders are especially needed, James said.
A Global Leadership trip to Ukraine scheduled for April is already full, but James hopes to schedule additional trips later this year.
More information about Global Leadership, Inc. can be found at www.global