Ever greater internationalization of business environments leads professionals and students of business and entrepreneurship to look beyond their home regions, learn about opportunities and challenges abroad, share experience and knowledge, and generally engage with local and expatriate counterparts around the world. In a recent article titled “Africa rising”, the Economist completely reversed its perception of Africa. Previously termed the ‘lost’ continent, it now speaks of the ‘hopeful’ continent, stating that, over the past decade, “six of the world’s ten fastest-growing countries were African”. Suddenly, Africa has become fashionable, and more and more international companies and business schools are realizing that they are losing out if they don’t expand their portfolio to include the continent.
The East Africa region is particularly in the spotlight. The 5-member East African Community is probably the most successful example of regional integration on the continent, benefiting, among others, from a common market that provides the four essential freedoms of movement of goods, labor, services and capital. Kenya is the region’s powerhouse and increasingly attracts major investments across a multitude of sectors. Perhaps even more fascinating, tiny Rwanda is frequently called the most inspiring success story of the developing world today. Here, visiting professionals and students can experience a live model of successful rapid development despite resource scarcity.
We develop and facilitate international educational and professional exchanges for business and entrepreneurship professionals and students. They range from study trips that focus on business environments and/or specialized sectors (e.g. social entrepreneurship, banking and microfinance, ICT, coffee, tourism etc) to hands-on service-learning, consulting or mentoring engagements. We are particularly proud of our signature business mentor program where we and our partners are supporting young local entrepreneurs, particularly women, to increase their skills and knowledge, and to run successful businesses. Read more by clicking on the next pages.
Recent years have seen an ever increasing internationalization of personal and professional environments, especially in the business world. Study trips respond to the growing need for international experiences and offer professionals and students the opportunity to visit another country, to meet with local and expatriate counterparts who work in related fields, and to explore new markets. This allows the visitors to gain valuable new perspective, to share common challenges and to generally connect on a one-to-one level. Itineraries regularly involvegovernment authorities, chambers of commerce, local and international businesses, embassies, development agencies, non-profit organizations and academic institutions – willing to interact with the visitors through guest presentations, meetings, lectures and site visits. This is embedded in educational, cultural and historical introductions as well as nature, leisure and fun activities.
We regularly host business- and entrepreneurship-related study trips from renowned business schools such as Harvard, Wharton, MIT, Stanford, Washington University, George Washington University and Johns Hopkins University, on general business environments and/or specialized sectors (e.g. social entrepreneurship, banking and microfinance, ICT, coffee, tourism etc). Additionally, we engage in market-related study trips for delegations of business clubs, chambers of commerce or investor groups.
Case study: Stanford Graduate School of Business
Stanford’s Global Study Trips are student-initiated international travel experiences that complement the classroom time by offering students the opportunity to interact with global leaders from around the world. A series of on-campus guest lectures is followed by travel to the destinations, where students broaden their international experience and knowledge. The visits include meetings with top government representatives, US Embassy officials and leading entrepreneurs, a range of site visits, cultural activities, safaris, and down time. A recent Global Study Trip combined Kenya and Rwanda.
Our Business Mentor Program offers foreign business professionals and students the opportunity to start a sustainable and frequently long-term engagement with young East African entrepreneurs and to accompany them with structured capacity building measures both from abroad and during visits. The program has a strong gender component, and the great majority of our mentors and mentees are female. It offers a unique opportunity to engage in a meaningful and personal relationship, and to make a difference by inspiring and supporting a young entrepreneur to reach the full personal and professional potential. Impacts are felt by individuals as well as their families and wider communities.
- Mentor benefits: eye-opening practical experience in a multi-cultural environment, hands-on coaching practice, greater job motivation and satisfaction, increased confidence and improved communication skills, enhanced understanding and knowledge
- Mentee benefits: personalized attention that addresses current personal and business needs and takes long-term business strategy into account
Mentors and mentees are matched according to their respective needs and skills sets. For the mentoring process itself, we provide guidance and a methodology that we have culturally adapted from Michael Gerber’s E-Myth, starting with the mentee’s primary aim and strategic objectives, and then step-by-step focusing on organizational, management, people, marketing and systems strategies.
In addition to our Business Mentor Program that is open to experienced professionals as well as groups of advanced students, we regularly also work with a range of business schools to facilitate their faculty-led service-learning and consulting trips to East Africa. Amongst our customers, we count the business schools of Harvard, Wharton, MIT, Stanford, Washington University, George Washington University and Johns Hopkins University.
We have the in-house capacity to support the curriculum development process, to identify suitable in-country partners and clients, to facilitate all preparations relating to both content and logistics, and to ensure an impeccable implementation through our experienced country teams. Additionally, we regularly team up with leading international partners such as WorldStrides.
Case study: Innovation for Humanity Project at Johns Hopkins’ Carey Business School
The Innovation for Humanity Project is a 2-credit course that provides a learning experience focused on the challenges of building sustainable, impactful businesses in emerging global marketplaces. After extensive classroom exercises, students spend two weeks in the project countries. In 4-6 person teams, they face specific entrepreneurial problem-solving tasks that they undertake for a sponsoring entrepreneur or institution. As outputs, they prepare a country-market-sector assessment report, a project report and a corresponding presentation. Projects frequently relate to the health and energy sectors. Rwanda and Kenya are amongst the chosen destinations.