IE Brown EMBA 2019 Heads to South Africa

And, they’re off! This week IE Brown Executive MBA Class of 2019 reconvenes in Cape Town, South Africa. As part of IE Brown’s regular curriculum, this immersion experience allows students to combine – in a real-world setting – frameworks learned in traditional business and entrepreneurship courses with their understanding of the importance of historical, economic, cultural, social and political contexts.

South Africa is a nation with first world infrastructure and postcolonial inequality, and a history of the most racialized system of social exclusion devised by human beings. It has undergone the extraordinary transformation from white majority to black majority rule but continues to face challenges of undoing centuries of racial and colonial subjugation.

This country’s richness in dichotomies makes it fertile ground for testing one’s capacity to design powerful new business models that advance industry and society.

Working in teams, the IE Brown Class of 2019 is charged with ideating new potential business solutions for Cape Town townships.

For nearly all IE Brown students, townships are worlds away from their standard operating environment. Venturing beyond their professional comfort zone, IE Brown teams discover that innovation comes from the creative process of rigorously applying different lenses to complex problem-solving.

This deeper understanding uncovers the faces, dreams, and aspirations of the individuals that make up markets. It adds nuance to data, an edge to business strategies, and a sense of responsibility to the lives of those our decisions impact.

The reward for this hard work: radical new business ideas with potential far beyond the townships. To find out how this process produces new ideas for today’s complex markets, read a case study about the IE Brown 2018 South Africa Data Team’s experience: A New Community Data Model for Townships and the Digital World.

In an era of mounting digital privacy scandals, data rights is as much an issue for the residents of townships in Cape Town, as it is for individuals operating in digital realms who lack control over the collection of their data – who it’s being sold to, for what purpose, and in whose interest. By asking the hard questions, our team’s data stokvel idea sheds light on opportunities far beyond the townships demonstrating the power of critical and interdisciplinary thinking to uncover innovative business solutions for meaningful change.

NATHANIEL ALLEN
IE BROWN EMBA ’18

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