Experiential Learning in Cape Town, South Africa

Written on February 9, 2015 by Caroline Quintanar in News

During the 2nd week of January 2015, IE Brown Executive MBA students participated in an experiential learning exercise in Cape Town, South Africa.  During this trip students further developed business opportunities they had been working on in their Entrepreneurial Opportunities in Developing Economies course.

Students leveraged reflective learning skills gained throughout the curriculum in courses such as Ethnographic Research Methods and Globalization and the Arts to inform their business plan hypotheses while gaining a richer appreciation of the cultural, economic and political context of the region.

The trip included daily visits to Township sites as students investigated opportunities related to sanitation, retail, couture, food products and construction.  These visits were complemented with events arranged to highlight local musical and visual artists.

The week closed with briefings by student teams attended by many key players met during the visit.  Students continue to enhance their business plans, providing a foundation for future efforts and meaningful impact over time.

-Pat McHugh, Director IE Brown Executive MBA Program


Read more about IE Brown participant Nick DeLena’s experience:


Nick DeLena

IE Brown EMBA Class of 2015

Assistant Vice President, Montpelier Group


“Our Cape Town experience has been fascinating. We spent quite a bit of time in advance preparing for the project, but no amount of research could have prepared us for what we encountered. Our team focused on the challenges of getting over-the-counter medicines into the hands of poor township residents. We met with disadvantaged families, doctors working in townships, traditional healers, as well as project managers from non-profit foundations focused on pharmaceutical distribution. We learned a lot about the challenges facing township residents and the way western medicine is viewed. We also saw surprising examples of how entrepreneurial and resourceful people were. One family, running a hair salon in their garage, felt that they had secured sufficient resources to guarantee their own wellbeing and decided they could start an orphanage in their house to help disenfranchised children. It was quite humbling when you consider priorities often associated with the developed world. I hope we were able to contribute something valuable to the overall mission of supporting township residents and local entrepreneurs-  they’ve given us an experience we’ll never forget.”

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