African business leaders gathered in Barcelona this week for a module of the Africa AMP based at Strathmore Business School in Nairobi and Lagos Business School in Nigeria. The week began with a session by Prof. Lluís Renart on the history of IESE's links with Africa and the launch of The Africa Initiative in 2009.
Renart explained that IESE's engagement with Africa fits in with its overall mission as a global institution, with a special focus on human and ethical values. He said that IESE always teaches from a general management perspective and that it sought to teach in such a way that it creates a transformational impact.
It tries to achieve these goals either directly or indirectly through other institutions. Sometimes it starts by offering an AMP taught by IESE professors, then progressively begins to use local faculty with the eventual launch of a new business school. The aim, Renart said, is to create autonomous schools, not branches of IESE. Some of this is achieved through the International Faculty Program which was created in 1992. In 2009, it had 33 participants representing 22 nationalities, 10 of them from Africa. IESE also establishes joint degree programs, peer-to-peer cooperation and faculty development "in situ" in Africa.
For social and economic development to occur, Renart said, many factors need to be in place, such as health, education, political stability, infrastructure and a market economy. But it also needs well-managed businesses, for which business schools are needed to train leaders, and this is IESE's principal contribution. IESE has helped to establish 17 business schools in developing countries, mainly in Latin America.
In Africa, the first IESE connection was with the Strathmore Business School in Nairobi, as well as the LBS, which was launched in 1991. IESE also works with Nile University in Cairo and with the Angola School of Business in Luanda which was formally launched in 2010 with help from IESE in Lisbon. It is helping to develop the Institut des Hautes Etudes in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where the first AMP program will be launched in 2011 and will be taught in French. Through its connection with CEIBS in Shanghai, IESE has also been involved in launching the first MBA course in Accra, Ghana.
In 2009, IESE approved the Africa Initiative, which aims to provide academic assistance, develop new projects and programs and support social initiatives in Africa. It also strives to convince businesses to take Africa seriously.