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EDHEC Global MBA Participants Visit South Africa To Learn About Sustainability

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The EDHEC Global MBA at Nice, France, is a full-time 10-month-long program with a special focus on sustainability. In November 2018, the Class embarked on a week-long learning expedition to South Africa.

During their brief stay in Cape Town, they were to learn about sustainability through lectures and meetings with local businesses.

According to Bastiaan van der Linden, associate professor at EDHEC, the concept of sustainability has transformed the way we envision business. The new challenge for any organisation, large or small, is to create profitable ventures that are able to protect and fit in their environment.

Now more than ever, the use of natural resources and social impacts must be taken into account to grow businesses that will help their ecosystem to thrive, he pointed out.

By understanding the political, social and investment challenges of the South African environment, local companies and governments provide perfect examples on how to overcome these obstacles in sustainable ways.

“The challenge of sustainability is to develop businesses that not only serve our needs right now, but that also anticipate our future needs. There are unprecedented opportunities in creating business solutions that serve their natural and social environment; investors start to understand this and to invest accordingly,” he added.

EDHEC’s partnership with the University of Stellenbosch Business School allowed the Global MBA participants an opportunity to understand the key trends, influences and insights affecting sustainable business through a series of lectures and presentations from key experts.

By understanding the political, social and investment challenges of the South African environment, local companies and governments provide perfect examples on how to overcome these obstacles in sustainable ways.

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On the third day of the week-long trip, the class split into small groups to interact directly with local entrepreneurs, each with a specific business challenge such as fundraising, marketing a new business or managing a growing franchise.

Each group applied their knowledge to the specific problem and shared ideas and solutions in accordance with each venture’s social and natural context.

“The businesses were very small and trying to figure out how to grow. We worked in teams to help them develop their projects, for example, our team met a clothing designer who wanted to grow his business within the community and was planning to run a fashion show on a very limited budget. We helped him think about free resources he might have access to such as using social media and contacting local influencers,” Jess Foss, Global MBA participant said.

For many participants, the insights acquired during this trip will have a long-lasting effect on their work. “Business schools have an important role to play in sustainability,” Bastiaan said.

“It is crucial for the new generation of leaders, entrepreneurs and corporations to create new models that are profitable and sustainable,” he added.

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