Thinking outside the box: African B-schools

Guy Pfeffermann, writing in Business Week, urges charitable donations to business schools in Africa. It actually makes a lot of sense:

Sadly, most of Africa's health organizations and local NGOs —— many of which receive millions in aid —— suffer from a lack of management skills. According to news reports, a key partner in the Global Fund to Fight HIV—AIDS, Malaria & Tuberculosis suspended operations in Uganda in August because some funding had gone astray. This was in part the result of corruption, but it also was due to a shortage of local accountants able to book foreign exchange receipts correctly.

This dearth of management training also hinders micro, small, and midsize businesses. These are the largest source of jobs in most developing countries. Yet in Africa few of them ever grow into larger companies. Research conducted in East Africa shows that the one factor that is strongly connected to the growth of small companies is whether owners or managers have university training. This finding cuts across ethnic differences and is true for locals, persons of Indian descent, or expatriates. In China, in contrast, most owner—managers of small companies have had some access to higher education. In short, business training pays off immeasurably.

The Report of the Commission for Africa, which British Prime Minister Tony Blair submitted to the Group of Eight last July, rightly flags management weakness in nearly every sector: water, health, transportation, and education. Yet nowhere does the report mention the need to strengthen local management schools. Leaving out South Africa, in all of the rest of sub—Saharan Africa —— with one—tenth of the world's population —— there are only a dozen small, high—quality business schools. No one expects any of these to become the next Harvard Business School. Rather, these schools aspire to provide basic management skills at affordable costs. But they can't supply business, governments, or NGOs with even a fraction of the skilled staff they need.

Ed Lasky  12 16 05

Guy Pfeffermann, writing in Business Week, urges charitable donations to business schools in Africa. It actually makes a lot of sense:

Sadly, most of Africa's health organizations and local NGOs —— many of which receive millions in aid —— suffer from a lack of management skills. According to news reports, a key partner in the Global Fund to Fight HIV—AIDS, Malaria & Tuberculosis suspended operations in Uganda in August because some funding had gone astray. This was in part the result of corruption, but it also was due to a shortage of local accountants able to book foreign exchange receipts correctly.

This dearth of management training also hinders micro, small, and midsize businesses. These are the largest source of jobs in most developing countries. Yet in Africa few of them ever grow into larger companies. Research conducted in East Africa shows that the one factor that is strongly connected to the growth of small companies is whether owners or managers have university training. This finding cuts across ethnic differences and is true for locals, persons of Indian descent, or expatriates. In China, in contrast, most owner—managers of small companies have had some access to higher education. In short, business training pays off immeasurably.

The Report of the Commission for Africa, which British Prime Minister Tony Blair submitted to the Group of Eight last July, rightly flags management weakness in nearly every sector: water, health, transportation, and education. Yet nowhere does the report mention the need to strengthen local management schools. Leaving out South Africa, in all of the rest of sub—Saharan Africa —— with one—tenth of the world's population —— there are only a dozen small, high—quality business schools. No one expects any of these to become the next Harvard Business School. Rather, these schools aspire to provide basic management skills at affordable costs. But they can't supply business, governments, or NGOs with even a fraction of the skilled staff they need.

Ed Lasky  12 16 05