ENTERPRISE54 – As many local and multinational business spring up in Africa’s dynamic economic market, the quest for knowledge on management expertise continues to dominate the heart of many entrepreneurs and business leaders. To achieve this, some business leaders and entrepreneurs attend business schools. In Africa, multinational firms are annually spending millions to train their
ENTERPRISE54 – As many local and multinational business spring up in Africa’s dynamic economic market, the quest for knowledge on management expertise continues to dominate the heart of many entrepreneurs and business leaders.
To achieve this, some business leaders and entrepreneurs attend business schools.
In Africa, multinational firms are annually spending millions to train their staffs to meet up with the demand of the current business world. This recipe has worked well for them in developed nations like the United States and Europe, and so it becomes necessary to apply that in Africa too.
According to Africa Regional Director at Duke Corporate Education, Sharmla Chetty, “customers want to teach a new cadre of middle managers and strategize international expansion plans.”
In February, the Dean of Johannesburg-based Henley Business School, Jon Foster-Pedley pointed out the dearth in demand for business school in Africa.
“There’s an incredible shortage of well-trained business leaders and managers in the developing world,” he told Financial Times.
Nevertheless, there are still a good number of business schools in Africa that have churned out great business leaders of worthy mention.
Aside indigenous business academic institutions like the Lagos Business School and Kenya’s prestigious Strathmore Business School; foreign counterparts such as Duke Corporate Education, Webster University, the business school of Milan’s Università Cattolica and China Europe International Business School have established their presence in Africa while some have gone in expansion from one African country to the other.
The reason for this development is not far-fetched.
Africa is currently home to six of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world and the IMF has predicted 6 percent growth for this year alone.
Multinationals are also launching their businesses across the continent and successful entrepreneurs are emerging.
However experts have wondered if there is indeed a market for business school in Africa.
Although there is no straightforward answer to this, investors who have ventured into establishing a business school in Africa have declared it as a worthwhile risk.
Duke Corporate Education which opened in 2007, says it derives between 10 -20 percent of its revenue from training programs for African clients, such as banks, mining companies and telecommunication firms.
Inge Kerkloh-Devif, executive director of global business development for HEC Paris, whose school recently signed deals with Ivory Coast’s ministries of state and foreign affairs, and a consortium of private companies across the West African nation, reveals such programs generate about €1 million in revenue.
Also, Webster University which recently opened in Accra Ghana also expects to break even in three to five years.
In an article published by the Wall Street Journal, Tim Westerbeck, the president of higher education consulting firm Eduvantis LLC stated that: “Any business school going into that market (Africa) can’t be doing it for anything other than a longer-term play.”
However, Prof. Foster-Pedley warns that “what you have to do if you want to operate here (in Africa) is play by the rules,” adding that “Good business is not about exploitation, it’s about creating value.”
So how do you succeed with a business school in Africa?
Dr Nosakhere Griffin-EL, a lecturer in Inclusive Innovation at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB) in his key message at a week-long training programme for business educators from across Africa last month said “finding ways to make businesses better, not only financially but socially and culturally relevant should be one of the core functions of business schools in Africa.”
“We need to figure out how to make business education relevant… We need to think outside the box and push ourselves to explore new ways of thinking around business in Africa,” he added.