Yale School of Management

First Africa Business Practicum Brings Together Student Perspectives

After attending several conferences focused on doing business in Africa, Barkot Tekle '15 thought something was missing: a real conversation. "We wanted to make something where the audience could be engaged and not just spoken to."

Tekle, along with Alisha Rahemtulla '16 and other members of Yale SOM's Black Business Alliance created the first Africa Business Practicum, to be held November 1 at Evans Hall. The practicum is a mix of case competition, conference, and workshop; business school students from across the Northeast will work collaboratively on a case study focused on a mobile payments company in Zambia, before presenting their ideas to a panel of Yale SOM faculty, Yale World Fellows, and industry experts for review. The case is designed to prompt discussions about African business problems like customer retention and creating sustainable business models, Rahemtulla said.

I think that over time, the more engagement we can get from Global Network schools based in Africa, the better.

Participants include students from Yale SOM and other business schools, including Wharton, Columbia, and MIT Sloan, as well as students from Yale Law School and representatives of Yale's MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies.

Students from University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business in South Africa and Lagos Business School in Nigeria, both members of the Global Network for Advanced Management, will participate via videoconference. "The goal is to have much more input from people actually on the continent," Tekle said. "I think that over time, the more engagement we can get from Global Network schools based in Africa, the better."

The goal is to create an event where a variety of perspectives can be assembled, Rahemtulla said, which is critical to finding feasible solutions to the problems presented. The event also provides an opportunity for students to start building meaningful relationships with their counterparts at other institutions, both domestically and abroad, who are engaged with issues relating to business in Africa. "We need to get their perspective," she said. "In order to see if the solutions are going to be viable, we need their input."