South Africa: Global Business Experience

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"Lessons from South Africa on the need for cooperation between the public and private sectors to grow an economy"

What will students gain from this program?

Students will experience South Africa by visiting Johannesburg, Cape Town and a few other locations.

South Africa’s history and outlook provide a setting for many important conversations at the intersection of business in a global society. Whether it is South Africa’s:

  1. stock of natural resources, which act as a buffer against uncertainty in the Middle East,
  2. biodiversity, which impacts the health of the biosphere,
  3. integration with the European economy, because of their colonial history,
  4. cooperation with China, its largest trading partner,
  5. social challenges (poverty, high employment and substandard public education) driven by past discrimination,
  6. need for an effective national healthcare strategy given the devastation caused by AIDS,
  7. extensive cultural diversity,
  8. political corruption that is embedded in a democratic system.

Academic Program Overview

South Africa is the largest economy in Africa and the 28th largest economy in the world with a GDP of 384 billion, more than ¾ in the service sector in 2012. In 2011, the United States was the economy’s third largest import trade partner behind Germany and China. While it boasts a relatively large economy, it suffers from 25%-40% unemployment and 25% of its citizens live on less than $1.25 a day.

Areas of Study will include:

Diversity

Observe the diversity in nature and culture beginning with a trip to Kruger National Park. Nature has many lessons to teach us about life and business if we are open to receiving them. Kruger National Park is world-renowned for its wildlife experiences that is among the best in Africa. The park was originally established to protect wildlife in 1898. It covers approximately 2 million hectares, has unparalleled wildlife diversity and world-class environmental management. We move to an appreciation of human diversity with a visit to Nelson Mandela Square and the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg and close with a trip to Robben Island in Cape Town.

Entrepreneurial Empowerment

Work with entrepreneurs in impoverished areas of Cape Town. Consider the role of business in addressing the social challenges surrounding poverty, education, and healthcare that are intertwined with the complex historical and current politics of South Africa. 

Telecommunication and Mobile Banking

A sound banking system is important for addressing poverty and growth, yet South Africa offers a scarcity of banks. However, South Africa is ranked #4 in Mobile Telecommunications services. Learn what happens when businesses innovate to meet needs. 

Foreign Direct Investment

Consider the strategic implications to South African companies and foreign companies in the post-Apartheid world. 

Sustainability

Consider how to create sustainable economic growth with depleting natural resources such as water and land as well as cheap labor resources. We will also visit vineyards outside of Cape Town to round out our understanding of businesses impact on social challenges, sustainable practices and import/export dynamics.

Faculty Leader

Mary Margaret Frank

Dates

Arrive: 4 March 2015       Depart: 14 March 2015

Host Institution

Stellenbosch University

What have students said about the program?

"I really liked that we had the opportunity to visit multiple companies and learn about different industries in South Africa. I feel as though a few hours with each company was the perfect amount of time to get an overview of their operations and ask questions to better understand the company's strategy and direction."

"Every single company visit we did was excellent. The business school faculty were great and very enthusiastic. I felt very welcomed the entire time I was there. And the tourist activities were also well worth it. The Darden faculty truly made the trip!"

"South Africa is in an interesting place in their history, both economically and culturally. Going to South Africa helped me understand a bit more about emerging markets, their advantages and disadvantages, and how businesses function in light of this. I had a great time with my classmates and professors, and learned a lot along the way."

"I loved that we had the opportunity to visit multiple companies in a variety of industries while still finding time to enjoy the culture and scenery of Cape Town. The group events and dinners in the evening were a great way to further bond with other students on the trip. The entire experience was both educational and enjoyable and I would definitely recommend visiting South Africa if given the opportunity."

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