In July, more than 100 top executives from all-over the world will visit South Africa as part of their executive MBA programme. The aim of the trip is to combine classroom teaching with meaningful community service – where participants can learn from local businesses as well as offer their own expertise.
The trip is organised by the RSM Rotterdam School of Management Erasmus University in conjunction with OneMBA – the world's only truly global executive MBA programme.
Over the course of a week, executives will work in teams with micro-businesses and not-for-profit organisations in the townships surrounding Johannesburg and Cape Town. Together they will explore the challenges and opportunities organisations face.
Each team will prepare a presentation in support of their allocated local organisation to win additional aid of 23.000 ZAR. The participants are not allowed to use traditional methods of presentation such as power point and are encouraged to find creative ways of persuading the audience to donate to their business.
Last year, one of the supported NGOs was the Kuyasa CDM Pilot Project , which involves the retrofitting of solar water heaters, insulation and energy efficient lighting to 2,300 low-cost homes in Khayelitsha. EMBA students raised an extra 15.000 ZAR (around £1,500) to donate to the organisations.
Dianne Bevelander who teaches on the OneMBA programme says:
"We can learn a lot about business from the inhabitants of the townships. They don't have a lot of money but there is so much innovation and creativity going on. Many have to think where they are going to get their next meal from or how they are going to pay the rent.. A lot of EMBAs at RSM as well as those who join us from the global OneMBA programmehave not experienced or seen poverty other than on TV. By taking our students to the townships of South Africa, by them working with the micro-businesses and trying to understanding the challenges many of these wonderful people face, how they survive, how innovative they are, we give our students a perspective on sustainable business. We are not attempting to tell people how to conduct their businesses better; rather, we are looking for our students to learn from people whose entrepreneurial and innovative achievements are exemplary precisely because of the circumstances under which they thrive.''
Onno Jongmans from the OneMBA class of 2014 said:
"This experience was inspiring, a true eye opener and a shock. It has changed my life.''
Eugene Mtshali from Alexandra Township said:
"A lot of people have undermining mentalities about us. They think all we do is crime but they should not judge a book by its cover. They should come and see how we live and what we do – there is so much positivity coming out of this place.''