Students meet Johannesburg entrepreneurs

1739Last week 86 MBA students embarked on a week-long Global Business Experience (GBE) to Johannesburg, South Africa.

The theme for the week was Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth: The role of Micro-Businesses. The students worked directly with 15 micro-businesses, operating in Alexandra, a township of Johannesburg. These micro-businesses ranged from hair salons and an education centre, to an internet café.

The experience offered an opportunity to challenge the students’ preconceptions about contemporary business and society and showed the role micro-entrepreneurs play in fostering growth and transformation in emerging markets. With the aim of offering practical improvements, the students presented their findings and recommendations to the micro-entrepreneurs at the end of the week.

Rajesh Chandy, Professor of Marketing, who is accompanying the students on the trip, said: “By far the most common businesspeople on earth are the micro-entrepreneurs: those who run businesses with five or fewer employees. Micro-entrepreneurs are especially common in emerging markets that are experiencing dramatic growth today. They distribute products for other companies large and small, domestic and multinational. They supply to other companies, they buy from them, and when they band together, they are formidable competitors to them. Yet the business lives of micro-entrepreneurs are poorly understood. This trip gives students an experience most business executives never receive.”

The GBE is part of the MBA second year curriculum and students have the opportunity to choose from five locations around the world for a week-long learning experience. Each GBE is led by two senior faculty members from different subject areas. They are designed to be fast-paced, engaging and demanding, and to push students outside their comfort zone. At the end of the week the students will deliver a group-project after working in an unfamiliar environment with new peers.

For more information on the GBEs please click here.