UNCTAD brings together 95 business school in project to direct management education towards needs in low-income countries

Geneva, 16 October 2014 (UNCTAD press release) – Business Schools for Impact

“Business Schools for Impact” Prompts and Prepares Graduates to Use Skills to Make a Difference

UNCTAD today announced the launch of a global initiative at the World Investment Forum to bolster the contribution business schools and management education can make to development. The initiative, in partnership with the Global Alliance in Management Education (CEMS), the Global Business Schools Network (GBSN) and top business schools, is a key deliverable of UNCTAD’s proposed Action Plan for Investing in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) − the set of targets being formulated by global leaders to guide development efforts to 2030.

Introduced to schools, students and impact investment practitioners under the banner Business Schools for Impact, the initiative is a major push to turn the attention of business students towards needs in low-income countries and communities and reorient business education to teach skills students can harness to find solutions for the development challenges in these countries.

“To change the mindsets of global investors, business leaders and entrepreneurs, we need literally to go back to school,” said James Zhan, UNCTAD Director of Investment and Enterprise. “The role of business educators is fundamental to help equip a generation of entrepreneurs and managers to invest in communities where they can make a difference.” Zhan called on business schools to partner with UNCTAD and contribute to the initiative to amplify its impact.

The initiative sets up a network of business schools, and develops courses, case studies and internship opportunities to prepare students for the challenges of doing business in low-income environments and motivate students to work and invest there. Ultimately, the programme will set up a Global Impact Masters to give students a complete grounding in impact-oriented business methods.

“We have 7 billion people living on the planet. Business focuses mostly on only 15 per cent of this population. We need to change that mindset,” said Ted London, renowned expert on Base of the Pyramid teaching, who delivered a keynote address at the launch of the initiative. According to UNCTAD calculations, investment of $250 billion is required every year up to 2030 in sectors such as infrastructure, energy, agriculture, water and sanitation, health and education in Least Developed Countries (LDCs), to achieve the UN’s development targets. To activate this level of investment will require an enormous pool of entrepreneurial and managerial skills on the ground.

However, a dearth of business schools in low-income countries mean not nearly enough of these skills are honed where they are needed most. “It is not only about making students aware of business opportunities in the poorest countries or about different business models. It is essential for them to acquire the competencies that they need to operate in a challenging environment, build partnerships with local organizations, use unconventional distribution channels, or deliver basic services in the most remote places,” Zhan stressed. The project will make available:

  • A platform and network for business schools, students and development practitioners ers worldwide to share information and knowledge;
  • Freely available course content, research, modules and case studies;
  • A roster with project and internship opportunities in low-income communities and regions;
  • At the mature stage, a complete Global Impact Masters (GIM) curriculum with core and specific course elements relevant for investing and operating in low income environments.

For more information contact info@business-schools-for-impact.org