By Karen Guzman
For more than 20 years, Claude Grunitzky has used the levers of business to advocate on behalf of disadvantaged communities. As CEO of Equity Alliance, Grunitzky leads an investment fund dedicated to providing capital and education to enterprises founded or managed by women and people of color. He is also founder of TRACE and TRUE Africa, a media platform that features African voices. This past year has seen the birth of what may be his most ambitious undertaking yet—a remote platform to bring higher education to more of the African continent.
“It’s the project of a lifetime,” Grunitzky told a Yale School of Management audience during a virtual discussion on April 7. The venture, dubbed TRUE Africa University, is a remote-learning platform with a “made-in-Africa curriculum” that Grunitzky hopes will educate a generation to address the continent’s longstanding economic and social issues.
TRUE Africa University is currently being incubated in a Massachusetts Institute of Technology education lab. The COVID-19 pandemic has provided valuable lessons about virtual learning that are informing the project, Grunitzky said.
“My dream is to provide quality education to thousands, and eventually millions, of young Africans,” he said. The ultimate goal is to foster economic empowerment so that the African continent—which is home to an exploding young population—will be self-sustaining.”
Grunitzky spoke at Yale SOM as part of the Colloquium on Business and Society, which brings alumni and other practitioners in a variety of fields to Yale SOM to discuss issues at the nexus of business and society. Julia DiBenigno, assistant professor of organizational behavior, moderated the discussion
Grunitzky discussed his experiences navigating transcultural relationships and organizations, and his ongoing work to create a more equitable world. He described his role guiding more venture capital into startups run by people of color and women, as well as startups launched in the developing world. He said he has been disappointed in the leadership of countries in Africa and by trade agreements, such as recent ones with China, that have exploited people there.
The past year has brought new urgency to solving issues of inequity and racism around the world, Grunitzky said: “The way to move the needle is through capital and education.”