BOSTON—Beginning with the MBA Class of 2018, Harvard Business School (HBS) will offer a Global Opportunity Fellowship (GO: Africa) to supplement the income of MBA graduates who go on to work in Africa following graduation.
The fellowship is designed to bridge the gap between a recipient’s annual salary and $100,000 USD. Students will be eligible for the fellowship for up to five years after graduation, with a maximum award of $50,000 per year and cumulative support of $150,000.
“We are eager to support HBS graduates who want to make a difference in emerging markets,” said Chad Losee, Managing Director of Admissions and Financial Aid. “This pilot program will help attract top talent to Africa and expand the School’s global impact.”
With more than 1,700 alumni and current MBA students from the continent, Harvard Business School has already established a global footprint in Africa that it plans to continue to build upon and enhance. Last year, the School opened its newest global research office in Johannesburg to help develop and strengthen its relationships with business and academic leaders across the continent and to offer HBS faculty support for the research and writing of African-related cases and other publications.
“The GO Fellowship is another example of Harvard Business School’s commitment to developing and strengthening its relationships with business and other leaders across Africa,” said Pippa Tubman Armerding, Director of the HBS Africa Research Office. “Providing students with this financial support will not only enable them to develop their careers in Africa but also allow many more African businesses to attract the vital management and leadership talent they need to drive growth and economic development across the continent.”
Africa has long been a focus of HBS student organizations as well, most notably of the 108-member Africa Business Club and its Africa Business Conference, the largest student-run conference at the School. Co-chairs Afua Ahwoi (MBA 2018) and Aminata Ly (MBA 2018) are expecting over 1,000 attendees from close to 30 countries as the conference celebrates its 20th anniversary in March of 2018, an event that will include a wide array of panels and a new venture competition that will bring 10 promising African start-ups to compete for a grand prize of $10,000.
“This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Africa Business Conference,” Ahwoi and Ly said. “For such a remarkable milestone, we chose the theme of ‘Values and Value Chains: Africa in a New Global Era’ that will focus not only on the amazing opportunities and developments in the continent, but also on how individuals, businesses, and the continent at large engage within the global ecosystem. We are excited about the speakers and panelists and are confident that this year’s conference will be one for the ages. It’s perfect timing that the 20th anniversary coincides with the launch of this exciting new fellowship.”
HBS is also taking steps to broaden its Africa-related offerings in the curriculum. In January, the School offered its first Africa-intensive course, Africa Rising: Understanding Business, Entrepreneurship, and the Complexities of a Continent. With some 30 African alumni returning to campus to participate and nearly 60 students immersed in the four-day offering, the course highlighted the School’s commitment to convening its African alumni and, under the direction of Visiting Professor Caroline Elkins, to training the next generation of Africa’s business leaders.
“GO: Africa is a uniquely important fellowship, since it will enable a cohort of HBS graduates to translate their deep interest in and passion for Africa into a career there,” Elkins said. “I can think of few other fellowships that have the potential to be as collectively transformative – for our students, our alumni, and the continent as a whole – as the GO: Africa opportunity.”
The Harvard Business School MBA curriculum has also extended into Africa. As part of the School’s FIELD Global Immersion (FGI) course, more than 300 MBA students participated in design thinking projects in four different African countries during the 2016-2017 academic year.
HBS offers a variety of financial support to students all along the “MBAid journey”—from need-based HBS tuition fellowships and summer internship fellowships to career support and exploration fellowships. The GO: Africa Fellowship will support students who want to make an impact specifically in Africa.