On 16 October 2014, as part of the World Investment Forum, Palais des Nations, Geneva, UNCTAD announced the launch of the Business Schools for Impact initiative to bolster the contribution business schools and management education can make to development.
The initiative, undertaken in partnership with the Global Alliance in Management Education, the Global Business Schools Network and top business schools around the world, is part of UNCTAD’s proposed action plan for investing in the sustainable development goals – the set of targets being formulated by the international community to guide development efforts for the period 2016–2030.
According to UNCTAD calculations, meeting these goals will require annual investments of $250 billion in sectors such as infrastructure, energy, agriculture, water and sanitation, health and education in least developed countries.
To activate this level of investment will require an enormous pool of entrepreneurial and managerial skills on the ground. However, a dearth of business schools in low- income countries means that not nearly enough of these skills are honed where they are needed most.
Introduced to schools, students and impact investment practitioners under the banner Business Schools for Impact, the initiative seeks to reorient business education to teach skills students can harness to find solutions for the development challenges in low-income countries.
Mr. Zhan called on business schools to form partnerships with UNCTAD and contribute to the initiative to amplify its impact.
A network to share knowledge and opportunities
The initiative sets up a network of business schools, and develops courses, case studies and internship opportunities to prepare students for the challenges of doing business in low-income environments and motivate students to work and invest there. Ultimately, the programme will set up a Global Impact Masters curriculum to give students a complete grounding in impact-oriented business methods.
The initiative will make available:
Mr. Zhan said: “It is not only about making students aware of business opportunities in the poorest countries or about different business models. It is essential for them to acquire the competencies that they need to operate in a challenging environment, build partnerships with local organisations, use unconventional distribution channels, or deliver basic services in the most remote places.”
About 110 participants attended the Business Schools for Impact launch event. On this occasion, more than 40 people or institutions expressed their wish to contribute to, or partner with, the initiative.
It was announced at the meeting that the Business Schools for Impact initiative and its elements will be introduced to business schools and students in different regions of the world through five pilot workshops to be held in 2014 and 2015:
Speakers at the meeting
PANEL 1 - Which role can business schools play to advance sustainable development goals?
Keynote: Dr. Robert Glasser • Secretary General, CARE International
Moderator: Mr. Richard Bolwijn • Division on Investment and Enterprise, UNCTAD
PANEL 2 - What needs to change in management curricula?
Keynote and moderator: Prof. Ted London • Director, Base of the Pyramid Initiative, University of Michigan
The UNCTAD World Investment Forum is a multi-stake-holder biennial gathering designed to facilitate dialogue and action on the world’s key and emerging investment-related challenges.
Recognised by governments and businesses as one of the most important events for the international investment community, the World Investment Forum brings together State leaders, top-level policy makers, global CEOs, thought leaders and other investment stakeholders, serving as a high-level platform for dialogue and policy formulation on global investment challenges.
The 2014 edition was held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 13 to 16 October 2014. It discussed investment needs and strategies for the post-2015 development agenda. The meeting aimed to define the role of the private sector to help meet the Sustain-able Development Goals (SDGs). Its outcomes will feed into the formal UN process of formulating the SDGs.
The World Investment Forum 2014 attracted over 3’000 participants from 150 countries, and heard from 300 speakers in 50 events. Previous events were held in Ghana (2008), China (2010) and Qatar (2012).
More pictures of the event
Doing business in emergent economies presents particular challenges, not always the same as in developed countries. In this sense, traditional business models gradually need to turn into socially inclusive businesses as, in most of the cases, poverty, exclusion and inequalities are part of the daily landscape. Hence, the poor are surely part of the value chain either as suppliers, business partners, clients or as part of the workforce. This means that business as usual is not the answer, not only if a firm wants to be effective and efficient delivering a value proposition relevant for those markets, but also if it envisions its crucial role in building welfare and sustainability. Furthermore emerging markets are more than a challenge to developed countries´ business models; they can become a real source of innovation where scalable innovative solutions are born.
The challenges to address are varied, from breaking important barriers related to cultural differences, to the complexity of communications with stakeholders; geographical barriers for accessing technologies , the quality of local infrastructure, the availability of public services as well as lack of understanding about the complexity involved in dealing with communities with no access to the minimum standards of quality of education and health care, underdeveloped social capital, violence, discrimination, massive unmet basic needs, absence of local authorities and corruption. As a paradox, these same communities represent a huge opportunity in terms of markets with unattended needs (a perfect field to implement the so called “blue ocean strategy”), suppliers with an enormous amount of available natural resources and a heritage of local wisdom and cultural richness, hard-working local entrepreneurs well prepared to survive even in the worst scenarios of scarcity and lack of opportunities and, finally, a large population of young people eager to work and find a path to their life improvement.
This scenario poses also important challenges for business schools as the success of the leaders for these new business models require both technical capabilities (the “knowing”), and to experience a formative process centred in a curriculum designed for reinforcing the “doing” and the “being” of a student profile. A change in mindset is required to extend the profit maximization mentality to the maximization of sustainable social impact. On one hand, our students should develop resilience to get ready to work in a context of uncertainty, mistrust and underdeveloped capacities. On the other hand, they need to build the ecosystem needed to make these business models survive in the long run. They should be able to find out that a sole brilliant mind will not do a better job than strong teams performing in cooperative models; they should stand on solid ethical principles to avoid taking the role of powerful actors in asymmetrical relations and resist the temptation of the short term incentives for visible economic success as opposed to sustainability and long term aim.
Thus, business schools should be able to develop curricula that combines three key elements: the development of analytical and critical thinking; access to the most relevant knowledge and, simultaneously, a space for creativity –both required for innovation. Business schools should reinforce their sensibility, foster empathy and support experiential learning so students can have the capacity to work in environments were diversity and proactivity are a must. – The purpose is to extend the University experience to outside of confined walls and national borders where students can get in close touch with alternative realities while generating the needed passion to assume the role of transformational leaders and reinforcing relevant personal and social values, as well as much required soft skills.
The real goal is to accompany students in the process of developing innovative result oriented schemes that co-create simultaneous economic, social and environmental value.
A School of Management must address a broader range of issues than a business school; the more so if it is based in an emerging economy, such as Colombia. From its founding in 1972, University of los Andes School of Management (UASM) has committed to academic excellence in management education.
A broad perspective is a tradition at los Andes, since 1948 the first university in Colombia to require two years of liberal arts for all undergraduates pursuing a professional degree. The complex cultural, economic and political context of our society has driven UASM to broaden the MBA content. We address issues concerned with civic, social and environmental responsibility in order to fulfil our mission to educate leaders capable of delivering value to businesses, public agencies and not-for-profit organizations.
Following are UASM milestones in broadening our commitment to sustainable development since the start of the twenty-first century:
In 2011, the School’s mission statement was revisited. An assembly of the UASM faculty forthrightly committed themselves to “the innovative and sustainable development of organizations.” This explicit declaration was in keeping with what differentiates UASM from other business schools. The new mission reiterated was already under way. Beyond being part of international networks and initiatives such as those described, the School plays a lead role in preparing change agents for the Latin American region, influencing public policy in Colombia, organizing field projects in poor communities, and aligning all its academic and Executive Education programmes to ensure that the sustainable development discourse goes beyond words, and is instilled in the behaviours of our students.
Key to the School’s commitment to sustainability is a diverse, interdisciplinary and increasingly international faculty: Biologists, Engineers, Historians, Psychologists, Economists, Philosophers and Sociologists, and a distinguished core of business leaders in residence, who challenge and contribute to build the School’s broad perspective. In sum, at los Andes we challenge Kenneth Amaeshi’s proposition, published in The Guardian earlier this year, entitled: “Business schools: ‘the silent but fatal barrier to the sustainability agenda’. UASM has neither been silent nor a barrier to an agenda that is opening new opportunities to businesses, indeed to every organization. We cordially invite Professor Amaeshi, who is visiting fellow at Cranfield School of Management and director of the Sustainable Business Initiative, to visit Colombia and suggest feasible ways whereby our School’s research and education efforts can make an even greater impact on sustainable development.
“A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development” – this is the title of the 2013 report of the UN High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. This is its challenge to the global community as it made a critical appraisal of the modest achievements and many shortcomings of the Millennium Development Goals.
As the shapers of future business leaders and institutional thought leaders on the discourse of the role of business in society, business schools need to rise up to this challenge. The Business Schools for Impact Project is an important step in this direction.
In the Philippines, I have been involved in initiatives with business and management schools to pilot new programs such as a Master in Entrepreneurship for Social and Development Entrepreneurs at the Asian Institute of Management; a Master in Public Management Major in Social Entrepreneurship and a Diploma in Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo de Manila University School of Government and lately, a Master in Social Enterprise Development at the Ateneo de Manila University Graduate School of Business.
The introduction of these kinds of innovative programs is one track of changes in business school curricula. The other track is the introduction of changes in the curriculum of the MBA.
While a comprehensive review of the entire MBA curriculum is in order, I have 3 proposals that may be pursued immediately: the offering of “Business and Society” as part of the core courses; the inclusion of “An Internship Program in Social Enterprises in Developing Countries” as option for Action Consultancy; and the offering of “Social Entrepreneurship” as an elective course.
Business and Society as a Core Course: This could introduce business students to various perspectives and practices of corporations and business leaders as stakeholders in the pursuit of the evolving Post-2015 Development Agenda. It could use the aforementioned UN HLP Report as basic reading in engaging students in defining roles and strategies to maximize the contribution of businesses in the Post 2015 process.
Through the case method and resource persons among social entrepreneurs and business leaders, the course could introduce various strands and models of Corporate Social Responsibility interfacing with Social Entrepreneurship; Inclusive Business and Social Entrepreneurship Models that engage the poor as stakeholders in economic development; and Impact Investment Platforms for pro-poor investments and inclusive growth in developing countries.
Internship Program in Social Enterprises in Developing Countries:
The option for MBA students to undertake internships in social enterprises in developing countries would expose them to the challenges and rewards of promoting pro-poor investments and supporting social entrepreneurship and social enterprise development, while fulfilling the academic requirement of applying the tools they have learned to assist in pursuing a project or initiative relevant to their social enterprise host. The Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia (ISEA) is exploring a partnership with UNCTAD and the Business Schools for Impact Project in this direction.
Social Entrepreneurship as Elective Course:
This course is intended to provide MBA students a broad overview of what social entrepreneurship is and its various schools of thought, showing how it has evolved differently in various contexts – in the US, in Europe and in various developing countries. In developing country contexts, it could introduce social enterprises with the poor as primary stakeholders (SEPPS) as a major type of social enterprise addressing poverty and inequality. Through a combination of cases and resource persons, the course could substantiate and deepen the understanding of students about models that demonstrate the interface between social entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility and feature the differentiated impact between transactional and transformational partnerships involving inclusive businesses, impact investment platforms and social enterprises, as they engage the poor as stakeholders.
A field trip to a social enterprise could be an important feature of the course.
1Input of Dr. Marie Lisa Dacanay, President of the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia (ISEA), based in Manila, Philippines, Lead Discussant during the Business Schools for Impact Launch at the World Investment Forum 2014, 16 October 2014, Geneva, Switzerland. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Hedda Pahlson-Moller, Impact Investor (OMSINT), board member of the EVPA (European Venture Philanthropy Association), EBAN (European Business Angel Network), LMDF (Luxembourg Microfinance and Development Fund and founder of the Impactory, co-working space for social entrepreneurs & entrepreneurs in Luxembourg
Academic Posts: Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship, Sacred Heart University Jack Welsh School of Business; Professor of Business Policy and Strategy, European University MBA program and lecturer at the Luxembourg University Social Enterprise and Social Innovation program.
There is a much to be gained where practitioners and academics join forces to tackle pressing issues. Now it is time for business and business schools to address a harmful lacuna in both systems – the responsibility business faces in addressing social and environmental issues worldwide.
MBAs are now the most popular degree in the US1, and that trend is picking up internationally. These programs have come under fire for drumming in the principle of shareholder primacy into its acolytes and polarizing business with the wellbeing of society.
We have woken up late; pressed snooze a bit too often. Not only have businesses misallocated resources and ignored externalities, but academic institutions have not guided students to recognize stakeholders stretch far beyond shareholders. We all share responsibility to support our local communities. We all have accountability to the global community, with whom we share a planet and intricate interdependencies.
As an entrepreneur/investor focused on positive social impact, I have had the fortune of being invited to teach at multiple MBA programs the last 8 years. I have at times awkwardly ‘force fit’ the issue of social impact (or at the very least social responsibility) into each and every subject. The reaction from the students was clear: this makes sense, this resonates with me – why is it not part of our curriculum and other classes we take in this program?
We can innovate our MBA programs – like wealth management courses that now include impact philanthropy, or Venture Philanthropy courses that are given a grant to deploy. It is OUR responsibility to provide students with an understanding of corporate governance that stretches beyond the confines of the boardroom. Our best and brightest can change the world we live in, and should be encouraged to do so. We must work together and collaborate to lead this critical change process.
Entrepreneurship is a major source of employment, economic growth and innovation, promoting product and service quality, competition and economic flexibility. The culture of entrepreneurship in Kenya holds promise for the youth, enabling them to be drivers of employment creation.
According to a January 2013 report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 80 per cent of Kenya's 2.3 million unemployed people are 15-34 years old. There are about 500,000 youth who graduate from various tertiary institutions every year. However, due to the sluggish economic growth, corruption and other factors, a large percentage remains unemployed. During the country’s budgetary 2014/2015 address, the government is committed on building on the continuous youth support initiatives . This was aimed to encourage entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity of the young people through The Uwezo Fund, Youth Enterprise Development Fund and Women Enterprise Fund which will be rationalized into an efficient and well capitalized fund to sustain the ever growing demands of our youth and women.
Currently, youth entrepreneurs are grappling with a umber of challenges. ‘Lack of capital at the early stage’ is a commonly cited problem by entrepreneurs in East Africa,but the underlying problem especially for many later stage startups are : challenges with teams, skills, management of funds and experience. In particular, investors find most business plans are poorly developed and many teams lack any track record or experience relevant for their business model. (GSMA 2014).
Business schools have introduced entrepreneurship as a unit in their courses or programs. A good example is Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore's ALTIS Postgraduate School of Business and Society which has partnered with local universities in Africa such as Tangaza University college(CUEA) among by having a hands on approach to learning new skills where they implement immediately/directly to their businesses. This has strengthened the leadership and management skills of SME's hence leading to thriving business environment, thereby impacting their communities by promoting employment hence empowerment. Incubators and accelerators are also partnering with business schools to create a networking environment , easy access to funding(investments), collaborations with cooperates and for budding startups. Some of these hubs include iHub, Mlab, Center For Social Impact among others.
I am a benefactor of the entrepreneurship programes in the business school and business growth hubs. The impact that Mfarm has had to date on its 15000+small scale farmer households include:
Entrepreneurship is at the center of technological research, scientific exploration, product creation and market transitions. Thus, entrepreneurship education program need to be accorded the necessary attention and support by all the institutions for immediate improvement in its overall performance in Kenya.
1. Introduction: ALTIS
ALTIS, the Graduate School of Business and Society of the Catholic University of Milan, was founded in 2005 with the aim of fostering entrepreneurship and management for sustainable development.
To pursue this mission, since the beginning, ALTIS started to create educational initiatives for students coming from emerging countries, with the intent to forge change agents and to create bridges between Italy and the new economies.
After some experiences in Italy, we noticed that students didn’t want to go back to their countries, but preferred remaining in Italy and Europe. This meant that a better way to bring about significant impact in those countries was to go there and partner with local universities.
E4impact (Entrepreneurship for Impact) initiative was created precisely with the intent of offering an MBA in Impact Entrepreneurship to a specific target, what we call impact entrepreneurs, people with strong attention to social and environmental issues, active in all industries (not only in the social sector).
Thanks to a continuous and deep learning process with our local partners, we gradually changed our formula, that is now quite unique. It can be resumed with the motto “We do not teach entrepreneurs, we train entrepreneurs”:
3. E4impact Today and Tomorrow
The program is currently in place in Kenya (4th edition) and Ghana (2nd edition). We were scheduled to start in Sierra Leone in September but we had to delay because of Ebola outbreak. At the moment we are also in contact with other 10 universities all over Africa and some others in the Indian area and Latin America. There is a demand to replicate the program in those areas in the near future, because:
The end result will be a large international alliance of MBA, entrepreneurs and universities united under the aim of fostering Impact Entrepreneurship around the world.
Social impact in Africa is constrained by deficits in human and institutional capacities to innovate, which are prerequisites to nurturing entrepreneurship. African business schools are not sufficiently prepared to meet the needs of inclusive business with emphasis on customer development alongside service/product development. The training does not include entrepreneurial experiential learning. Graduates often cannot create jobs or find employment while many small businesses lack staff with skills (for customer, service/product development, advocacy and networking) needed to drive innovation and entrepreneurship. The relationship between the demands of the private sector and what business schools teach and what research does is too weak. Nowhere are these deficiencies more critical than in agriculture, Africa’s dominant industry with millions of farmers, youths and women.
The creation of an agribusiness MBA option alongside an incubator is an attempt to break the barriers, bridge the gap and foster partnerships between business schools, business, research and government to create cultures and environments that will promote inclusive innovation and social entrepreneurship in especially agribusiness value chains. To this end, the private sector, the business schools, government and research institutions enter into a consortium as partners to create an agribusiness incubator to ensure that a former platform to strengthen their ties and effective channel of transformation is created.
An incubator, by way of facilitating can support many interventions ranging from reforms in curriculum, creation of successful social enterprises especially start-ups as small and medium enterprises and farmer organizations by providing them with business development support services, clustering and networking opportunities with financial institutions and development partners. The objective of an incubator is to facilitate creation of businesses/jobs and raise incomes through sustainable agribusiness development; enabling business schools, private sector and research institutions to jumpstart business ideas and commercialize innovations and produce graduates with inclusive entrepreneurial skills through incubator partnerships and enabling access to facilities or services that would otherwise be extremely difficult to access. The objective is attained by having, among other things, curriculum that responds to the needs of the private sector through production of graduates with the potential to become effective entrepreneurs, commercialisation of agribusiness innovations, up-scaling innovations, nurturing partnerships that contribute to entrepreneurial culture within a conducive policy environment using appropriate business models such as the farmer Ownership Model along the agribusiness value chain.
It was a great opportunity for the scholarship for me to study my MBA in social entrepreneurship of ALTIS Graduate School of Business and Society of the Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, where I was able to acquire more skills that have strengthened me in empowering over 600,000 coffee farmers in the market, influencing policy change and upscaling my business model; creating shared value as Uganda’s coffee revolution. I have established an agribusiness incubator with Makerere University and the National Agricultural Research Organization where so far over 100 agribusinesses for young men and women have been jump-started and are up and running.