MBA students from IESE, Strathmore Business Schools (SBS) key partner school, arrived in SBS for the annual exchange program. For a period of two weeks they will engage in the Doing Business in Africa Program. It is is a program designed by SBS to provide executives with a unique exposure to the African continent by providing practical skills and knowledge required to successfully operate and grow a business on the African continent.
In his welcome remarks, the dean of SBS Dr. George Njenga advised the students to discard any misconceptions they may have about Africa. Instead, he challenged them to be open to learn anew what Africa truly is. He gave a brief history of SBS, intertwining it with the history of Africa, with special focus on Kenya. In line with the mission of SBS of Service to society through developing virtuous leaders by providing world class executive management education in a local setting, the Dean assured the participants that SBS is here to solve real problems that we are grappling with in Africa.
Dr. Njenga further took the participants through the introductory session, titled Africas Changing Political and Economic Environment. He asked the students to mention the opportunities that exist in Africa, as well as the problems faced by the continents economy. The lively session that resulted from this gave quite some incisive results.
The opportunities fielded included the youthfulness of the continents population, the openness of the market, transport due to the large market, the proliferation and growth of SMEs. The challenges were, among others, the complexity of African demographics, health problems, poor education, high cost of transport, taxation and poverty. Emphasis was laid on the fact that almost all the challenges are, in fact, also opportunities.
The fact that corruption is rampant provided matter for a lengthy discussion, drawing views from many participants. Dr. Njenga gave an interesting angle, suggesting the existence of an understandable rationale behind it. In his view, although corruption itself is a problem, it is the manifestation of a much bigger problem and, as long as this problem is not uncovered and solved, corruption will likely persist. He added, corruption isnt necessarily an indication of moral corruption.
In conclusion, he outlined the peculiarities of the African economic environment, humorously taking the students through the modus operandi of their new land. Throughout the session, one thing that was quite clear was the fact that the students were comfortable with the new environment, and eager to learn as much about Africa as they can.