I decided long time ago that South Africa for me will be learning about life beyond the classroom. Though I am deeply grateful of the chance to take a MBA semester in a top school, I believe that Africa has more to offer to me than what I will learn at classes. However, one course, Business in Society, has proved to highly inspiring for me (which is always the motivation for me to carry on something). It is about realising the role of business in making a positive impact to its surrounding society, and the extent, nature and responsibility of this role.
On Wednesday we kicked off our course project by visiting South Africa’s largest Township, Khayelitsa. Townships refer to urban living areas that were originally reserved for non-whites, built on the periphery of towns and cities. They are supported by the government. Townships have the reputation of facing issues that risk people’s basic needs of well-being, such as not having functioning sanitary and electricity distribution. It is also a demanding environment for a business as safety is an issue. USB wants to be part of establishing a entrepreneurial culture in townships to make them flourish and provide better environment for its residents.
We will consult local entrepreneurs in business dilemmas they are facing – be it franchising vs organic growth, marketing efforts and beyond. It was such a great experience to meet these entrepreneurs, hear their stories and see their business environment. So many great success stories of ambitious, determinant people. The most important message I took from the speakers was that persistence and standing out from the crowd will pay off. The value proposition for all stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, society, government and owners – is crucial.
“Lufefe Nomjana also known as the Spinach King in Khayelitsha is the young person to look out for this week. This innovative baker has turned a concept as weird as spinach bread into a thriving business. if this doesn’t shout Alive with Possibilities to you, I don’t know what does.“
We also met founder of Department of Coffee, wishing to establish a coffee culture to townships, a men choir, beauty & salon owner, wishing to empower women, and manager of an affordable education program that has enabled education for thousands of people.. Such inspiring stories. Can’t wait to start consulting our case company. 🙂
(What am I doing?!)