By Gerrit Westland
Centers for higher education across the globe ought to take a page out of Strathmore Business Schools (SBS) book when it comes to offering opportunities for their students to succeed both in and outside of the classroom. By providing its students with the tools and skills needed to succeed in a modern business environment, SBS is making great contributions to the development effort in Africa.
Since its opening in 2005, the Nairobi-based institution, along with Strathmore University as a whole, has quickly established itself as one of the top performing schools in the region. In 2011, African Business Review named SBS as the third best business school in the continent behind the University of Cape Town and The American University of Cairo respectively.
Among the myriad components that allow for such recognition, including quality of professors, access to academic resources, etc., it seems that SBSs success stems largely from its founding principle of leading society to greater development through service to all people without discrimination. While on the surface, such heady promises surely do not differ significantly from those made by most schools, SBSs commitment to improving the lot of all Africans is deeply ingrained into its culture.
And what better way to stimulate development than to assure that Africas future leaders are prepared for the task ahead of them? SBS encourages an active learning environment for its students by promoting their involvement in business development projects concurrently with their studies. With the provision of programs and an open, creative space for engagement with the business community in the region, students are able to make headway on their careers under the supervision of Strathmores world class professors.
SBSs Students Enterprise Program (SEP) is evidence of the novel approach to education that Strathmore is undertaking. The SEP is a program that allows students to operationalize their business initiatives by giving them access to the capital, markets and training required for success. While the overheads for a startup can be overwhelming to the point of discouraging many prospective business owners from entering the market, Strathmore sponsors its students enterprises, charging a small fee of Ksh. 2500 ($29 USD) per year to cover some of the added expenses. Upon completion of their degrees, SEP students are then offered an additional two years of mentoring in order to ensure that their businesses remain in good order.
Strathmores commitment to development does not end within the classroom. SBS announced this week that at the end of September, it will be host to a new forum on devolution across Kenya entitled the Great Africans Gateway. The forum, drawing the countrys leading academics, alumni, and business leaders, will consider how best to distribute business investment across the state rather than continue with the Nairobi-focused investments that dominate markets today. A better distribution of development across Kenya would allow for the prosperity and betterment of all Kenyans a goal strictly in accordance with the founding principle of SBS.
In taking a closer look at SBS, to propose that it is the third best business school in Africa is rather misleading. It is a common misconception to take such rankings to suggest that those schools placing higher are in some way better able to prepare their students for their professional lives. That is not to say, of course, that a ranking of third is a small achievement. In fact, it is a massive accomplishment. However, given SBSs approach to education, it appears to operate within a class of its own. As a student myself, it is inspiring to see a school so committed to the success of its graduates and to the transformation of Kenya. As the administration recognizes in its online blurb: the potential of Africa lies here.
Source: Afri Culture