Thursday, April 9, 2009

Interim Report on Wits-Duke Grow Your Business (GYB) programme

An update from Professor Will Mitchell:
This is a quick report on the Grow Your Business (GYB) programme that John Lynch and I taught at last week (with great support from Keisha Cutright, a marketing PhD student), in Johannesburg, along with two members of the Wits faculty, Sean Temlett and Rasoava Rijamampianina. This was the first module of the pilot GYB programme (the module focused on strategy, marketing, and leadership), which will be followed by a second module in April (with an emphasis on finance and pan-African business) and then an applied project. David Robinson and I will be teaching in module 2, along with several Wits faculty members.

I have attached a brief overview of the GYB programme, which lists the faculty and has some background about the students.

Module 1 was a strong success. We had 29 students from varied business backgrounds -- mainly from South Africa, with one from Mozambique. Some students were from the "entrepreneurship" sector  and others from "social entrepreneurship", though frankly I am not sure that distinction is meaningful in an emerging market. Half of the students were fee-paying, while half were on fellowships (though one of the fellowship students came to class on day 2 with a cheque book, and said that she wanted to pay because the course was worth the value to her).  In addition, two faculty members from Wits sat in to pick up ideas about teaching and research. The students were motivated and enthusiastic -- an absolute delight to teach. Strikingly, all but one were there on the last day, at the end of an intense four-day module in which they were trying to balance class, work, and family obligations. Sean Temlett from Wits circulated the course evaluations, which were outstanding. More importantly, we all came away from the session with a deep sense of excitement and enthusiasm, both from the students and among ourselves. I am very much looking forward to module 2.

We hope to launch a second offering of the GYB programme in July. Wits is engaged in seeking fee-paying students, with the help of Sasfin Bank, which supported marketing efforts for the first programme. One of the learnings of the pilot is the need for relationship-based marketing in this sector, rather than media-based efforts. We had dinner with the executive director of Sasfin, Malcom Segal, who was excited about the progress and will lend support for seeking delegates for the next offering of the programme.

We have three goals for building capabilities via this programme and the other programmes we are engaged in: (1) developing our students' capabilities to manage their organizations, (2) developing our own capabilities, both to understand business in emerging markets and to create scalable educational programmes in those markets, and (3) developing our partners' capabilities to create scalable educational programmes (over time, we plan to reduce Duke direct engagement in teaching, with the partner taking the lead in managing and delivering the programme). I believe that the GYB program is helping us make strong progress towards all three goals.

Please let me know if you have any questions.



--  Will Mitchell J. Rex Fuqua Professor of International Management   Watch our video at 

1 comment:

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