International MBA students visit SA

Posted on June 13, 2011

GIBS  recently hosted a group of 5 MBA students and their Professor from the Dominican University’s Brennan School of Business in Chicago from 29 May-3rd June. The aim of the study tour was to introduce students to an emerging market through a combination of classroom sessions and applied action learning.  To gain insight into the country’s historical, political, social, economic and cultural context, the students spent an afternoon in Soweto township - a place that was key to the struggle for freedom and has many sites of significant historical importance. They also visited the Apartheid Museum where they experienced what South Africa was really like in the Apartheid era. South Africa is believed to have the largest number of people infected with HIV/AIDS in the world. In her talk, Prof. Margie Sutherland outlined the implications this has on SA businesses and what impact our country’s leadership had in dealing with this issue. The students spent a day in Alexandra township, which is situated only 10 minutes away from the wealthy suburb of Sandton, and is one of the poorest urban areas in the country. They visited Youth Stand Together, a world acclaimed dance group company that was established in 1993 to get the youth off the streets and Mveledzo, a non-profit organisation that educates and assists communities in managing their ecological resources responsibly.      The group enjoyed a hearty meal at GC Fires in Alex and set about working on their consultation project with small business owners. The aim of the assignment was to expose the students to the business challenges and opportunities that exist within an economy very different to their own. The students’ role was not to solve every single problem facing each business, but to ‘offer an appreciative set of ears that allowed the business leaders to see something new through telling their own story’. They then had to present their suggestions and ideas to a panel, which included a representative from each business they consulted with. Mining in South Africa has been the main driving force behind the history and development of Africa’s most advanced and richest economy. A visit to the Bafokeng Rasimone Platinum Mine (BRPM) in Rustenburg thus proved to be one of the highlights of the group’s trip to SA.

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