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Daniels College of Business alumni Michael and Kathy Azeez see Israel as a booming epicenter for innovation and business and seek to inspire students through travel to the country and programs that capture the entrepreneurial spirit. The couple donated $500,000 to the College at the University of Denver to fund two major projects at Daniels.

One gift will be used to fund Denver MBA students and faculty to travel to Israel as part of the global challenge of the MBA program. Students will meet with thriving start-up businesses in the country. The country of Israel, with just 7 million people, is said to hold the most patents in the world per capita. It’s an amazing opportunity for our students to see what this innovative and entrepreneurial culture is about.

“Michael and Kathy Azeez have a vision that connects the State of Colorado to the State of Israel through a start-up mentality,” says Daniels Professor Kerry Plemmons, who has traveled to Israel with the MBA program. “Israel has become a wonderful hub for creativity and commerce. By taking Daniels students to Israel, the Azeez’s generosity created bonds that start with business and then go far beyond to friendships and partnerships. It is quite amazing to see the transformation that happens when students study Israeli commerce, culture and history.”

The other half of the gift allows Daniels to raise awareness about and substantially intensify programming around Israel. The College will host two conferences centered on entrepreneurship—one held in Colorado and one held in Israel. The goal is to create a platform for the exchange of ideas and business opportunities that are unique to Israel’s and Colorado’s community members, businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs. These conferences will also give students opportunities to engage in cross-disciplinary work through innovative projects like pitch competitions, hackathons and CEO bullpens.

“We are so grateful for the generosity of Michael and Kathy,” Dean Brent Chrite says. “This gift will help us expand on our global and experiential opportunities for students. They are a critical component of the premier education at Daniels.”

This is not the Azeez’s first gift. They have supported scholarship funds and global opportunities for students at the Daniels College of Business over the past six years. Michael Azeez earned his bachelors in business administration and real estate and construction management in 1980. Kathy received her degree the same year in business administration and hotel and restaurant management. Michael Azeez is currently a private investor in technology companies and serves on several for profit and nonprofit boards as well is the Managing Partner of Vermeil Wines. Kathy Azeez is the owner of Unique Quilt Patterns.

“Kathy and I look forward to expanding the opportunities for DU students to learn more about the country of Israel including its cultural and business attributes,” Michael Azeez says. “There have been many successful companies and technology developments created in the country. It’s a fantastic opportunity to see and experience the country with their own eyes.”