MBA Graduates Volunteer in Emerging Markets to Gain Competitive Global Business Skills

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MBA Graduates Volunteer in Emerging Markets to Gain Competitive Global Business Skills

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013 - 9:15am

CAMPAIGN: The New Global Citizen

CONTENT: Press Release

WASHINGTON D.C., August 7, 2013 /3BL Media/ – On July 29, MBA graduates from Penn State, The George Washington University, Darden School of Business, and other major business schools gathered in Washington D.C. to kickoff what promises to be the journey of a lifetime, both professionally and personally.  These graduates are the most recent cohort of MBAs Without Borders (MWB), a program that sends individuals with MBA degrees to countries such as Mozambique, India, and Bhutan as pro bono business advisors for good.  Each MWB Advisor will spend from five months up to one year working on a project for a social enterprise, NGO, or government agency.

“Helping a social enterprise like Sustaintech in India expand its sales, while growing as a company is an amazing opportunity. It gives me experience working in an emerging market with a company selling a product to the base of the pyramid,” says MBAs Without Border Advisor, Paul Belknap.  “In the long term, I hope to build on this experience and start my own socially-motivated company.”

For those looking to stand out in a hyper-competitive job market, MWB develops highly coveted global management skills.  McKinsey Quarterly recently pointed out that “some 30 percent of US companies admit that they have failed to fully exploit their international business opportunities due to insufficient internationally competent personnel.”  A recent study by Leadership Research Institute found that leadership behaviors such as the ability to develop business strategy, foster innovation and creativity, and drive for results are critical skills in assessing global leaders.  The MWB program is designed to cultivate these types of skills, while delivering social benefit.

Before departing for Sri Lanka, India, Tanzania, and Mozambique, the cohort underwent a three-day intensive training at MWB headquarters to prepare for the experience.  The training covered topics such as:

  • Management consulting in emerging markets
  • Cultural competency
  • Empathetic-driven approach to learning
  • International development
  • Photography and digital media

The participants’ travel and housing costs are covered by local clients or external funders and a living stipend is also provided.  Among those departing the US this week include:

  • Kathryn Svobodny (MBA, University of San Francisco): Svobodny heads out on a five-month, three-country engagement in India, Nepal, and Bhutan with READ Global.  READ, an international nonprofit, partners with communities in rural Asia to develop community libraries and resource centers that drive social and economic empowerment.  Poised for expansion across Asia, READ is seeking to become more efficient.  Rather than launching a different type of business in every community, Svobodny will identify the types of READ models are sustainable and can be replicated throughout Asia.  
  • Jessica Custer (MBA, HEC Paris):  Custer will work with Kara Weaves, a fair-trade organization that sells hand-woven clothes and linens designed by the local weavers of Kerala, India.  Custer’s assignment is to expand Kara Weaves’ market share locally and internationally, while identifying new distribution channels and increasing sales through their online store.

MBAs Without Borders Advisor Belknap also notes, “As an MBAs Without Borders Advisor, I have the chance to work with a growing social enterprise in India whose products deliver tremendous social and environmental benefits.  I’ll combine my engineering background and business skills to help these enterprises grow. I believe that these markets and businesses have enormous potential to transform economies around the world.”


About MBAs Without Borders

MBAs Without Borders (MWB) is a division of the nonprofit, CDC Development Solutions, which specializes in private sector engagement in international development.  MWB matches individuals from around the world who have completed their MBA degree with skills-based volunteer projects in emerging and frontier markets.  Through MWB, graduates from schools such as Stanford, New York University, Oxford, and London Business School have provided pro bono consulting services in strategy, sales, project management, finance, and other core business areas to social enterprises, NGOs, and government agencies.  MWB has fielded over 1000 MBAs on international assignments.


Katie Levey
+1 (917) 593-1989
CDC Development Solutions
Keywords: Responsible Business & Employee Engagement | CDC Development Solutions | Darden School of Business | Education | Innovation & Technology | Jessica Custer | Kathryn Svobodny | MBA | MBAs Without Borders | MWB | McKinsey Quarterly

CAMPAIGN: The New Global Citizen

CONTENT: Press Release