"What an Introduction to Africa!"

     

Evening and Weekend MBA Students Study the Business Climate in South Africa

Cape of Good Hope

“What an introduction to Africa! We are three days into our Seminar in International Business trip to South Africa, and already, starting in Jo'burg, we have met with McKinsey's managing director for Sub-Saharan Africa…a finance executive from South Africa's largest private health insurer…and Ahmed Kathrada, one of the leading anti-apartheid leaders,” blogged Geoff Huang, MBA 12, a student in the Evening & Weekend MBA Program.

Huang and 19 fellow participants journeyed to South Africa for the Seminar in International Business, a course that introduces students to a country’s business environment, history, and culture through lecture and 1-2-week field visits. Their trip also included a meeting with the CEO of DeBeers, a tour of a Levi Strauss manufacturing plant, and a visit to the winemaking region of Stellenbosch. This year’s other Seminars included a summer trip to China and spring break trips to Brazil and India.

South Africa participants also connected with full-time MBA students working on HIV/AIDS prevention through the International Business Development (IBD) course and took in experiences from game drives (“wildebeest… elephants, and lions!”) to an evening of food and music in Soweto. “Business has never been so fun!” blogged Huang.

Business lessons also abounded. Huang noted that the students learned “a thing or two about entrepreneurial spirit in South Africa: A group of kids in Soweto delighted us with their impromptu rendition of the South African national anthem. Then they charged us for the performance (and tried to sell us a soccer ball as well).” Huang also observed that a severe shortage of skilled workers and investor perception that South Africa (and Africa in general) is too risky have stifled entrepreneurship at the top strata.

Entry into the African market requires an understanding of nuanced complexities, said Huang. “I'd like to think that our two or three weeks in the country have at least given us an introduction to these.” Read more on The South Africa Seminar in International Business on the Haas in the World blog.

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About The Author

From 2011-2013, Valerie Gilbert focused on sharing stories of Berkeley MBA student achievements and connection to the Haas Defining Principles. At Haas since 2004 and now Associate Director of Content Marketing, she still enjoys revealing the different facets of life at Berkeley-Haas to a variety of audiences.