All 25 IE Brown EMBA participants, 5 faculty, 4 IE Brown program staff and 3 local support staff met up last month to begin the long-awaited Cape Town immersion face-to-face. Participants reconnected with their teams, classmates and professors and met with the local facilitators from Reciprocity  to help set the context for their work in South Africa during this week, particularly in examining business opportunities in the townships. More than 25 million South Africans live on less than $2 per day (2010 Goldman Sachs statistics) making this an important opportunity and challenge for the nation.
Each IE Brown project team was challenged with developing a business opportunity, focusing on integration with the Bottom of the Pyramid via innovative models across 5 different themes: Investment Opportunities, Last Mile Distribution, Globalization of the Arts, Access to Healthcare, and Financial Services.
The key issue was for participants to examine “what is there, what isn’t there and what is needed” across the chain of stakeholders. Each group met with a series of representatives from different tiers within that chain. Healthcare team visited private and public clinics, township households, and representatives from NGOs such as Doctors Without Borders . Last Mile Retail conducted interviews in informal basic goods shops called “spazas” and in pharmacies and major wholesale centers. Field research and immersive visits culminated in the presentation of five innovative business ideas pitched to a panel of faculty and thought leaders from Brown University, IE and the South African community. Interested in the results? Stay tuned to the IE Brown Student Blog  for upcoming video highlights!