Building on an early record of success, the University of
Virginia Darden School of Business is taking its
innovative approach to teaching MBAs about global social innovation
to an expanded list of countries. Recently developed Darden
Global Field Experiences (GFEs), enable Second Year
students to help people in various countries conceptualize, develop
and maintain sustainable businesses.
A group of students recently returned from Tunisia, where they
worked on a business development project. Darden's
Center for Global Initiatives (CGI), which manages GFEs,
will send more student teams to Memoto in Stockholm, Sweden, and to
the University of Venda (UNIVEN) in Thohoyandou, South Africa,
in January 2014.
- In Tunisia, Darden MBA students
worked alongside MBA for Executives (EMBA) participants from the
Mediterranean School of Business (MSB) in Tunis, helping to develop
business plans for the proposed launch of a new social enterprise
called INASanté - the country's first health care services
- In Sweden, students will help
creators of the recently launched Narrative wearable camera,
a tiny device that can clip onto clothing. They will co-create
marketing plans to promote the product in military and medical
device customer segments.
- In South Africa, students will
work with UNIVEN on
complex issues related to the development of a third income stream
so that the university can diversify bases of support and enable
"This project gave our students a unique window into the
challenges of health care services in North Africa," said Marc
Johnson, executive director for CGI and faculty leader for the
Tunisia assignment. "I know from our partners that the Darden team
helped them think through some of their challenges in launching
this new social venture and helped advance their aspirations to
have a sustainable organization that will improve health outcomes
for people in Tunisia."
"What most resonated with me was how much I learned about a
country through a one quarter-long project. Building a financial
model and presenting a new venture to potential clients are skills
we learn in class. Yet, these skills are only useful if you know
the cultural context, and I quickly realized I did not," said
Second Year student Leslie Viano. "It's up to us to ask the right
questions, do the research, and most importantly, adapt quickly to
the circumstances provide the most effective
Darden GFEs During the Spring Term
In spring 2014, teams of students will head for Austindo
Nusantara Jaya in Jakarta and Papua, Indonesia; ETI in Istanbul and
Eskisehir, Turkey; Freeset in Kolkata, India; and will work with
the company MediaWave to help develop markets for their digital
media platform in the United States, Europe and the Middle
- Students will work with Austindo Nusantara Jaya on
new business development activities.
- Students will assist ETI, the largest food
manufacturers in Turkey, with strategic market research
- Students will help Freeset Global with
issues related to retail growth of their U.S. business.
- Students will partner with MediaWave to develop
business strategies for operating in other parts of the globe.
"These electives are a direct response to our internal and
external stakeholders as well as student feedback requesting more
experiential programming and global opportunities in their
curriculum and MBA program," said Michael Koenig, senior assistant
dean for degree programs. "These are innovative in that they have
significant flexibility in the duration of the client consulting
engagement at the heart of any GFE, as well as a strong focus on
socially responsible engagements, which are making a difference in
people's lives around the world."
A Look Back at the Inaugural Year of GFEs
In the global program's first year, students were afforded an
impressive set of experiences in business development.
- In spring 2013, six students
traveled to Baruyan Barangay, one of more than 400 villages within
the Philippines' Oriental Mindoro province.
- Further west during a GFE in
Zambia, Darden students helped Buffalo Bicycle Company enhance its
financial model, raise new capital and seek new investors.
- During Darden's first GFE in
Tunisia, students teamed up with students from Darden partner
school the Mediterranean School of Business and developed business
plans in support of branchless banking and to help families facing
- In Tanzania, students worked
with the World Bank on ways to spur economic development through
training and education in the realm of Microwork - small jobs
completed over the Internet by many different people that compose a
single large project or effort.
At the end of their endeavors, Darden's students learned
significant lessons about business creation and how it can enhance
the lives of their fellow global citizens.
Looking ahead, Darden will continue to engage its alumni to help
in the identification of new GFE locations.
"We will also be actively working with the internationally
focused student organizations, such as the
Darden African Business Organization and the
Darden Emerging Markets Development Club, to identify new
opportunities," added Koenig.
About the Darden School of Business
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business is one of the
world's leading business schools, offering MBA, Ph.D. and Executive
Education programs. The unique Darden experience combines the case
study method, top-ranked faculty whose research advances global
managerial practice and business education, and a tight-knit
learning environment to develop responsible and complete leaders
who are ready to make an impact.
For questions or information, contact Abena
Foreman-Trice at or a member of the
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