Busoga Trust & Westminster Business School
In early 2012, BT and Westminster Business School formed a valuable partnership that would see two groups of MBA students, as part of the Social Entrepreneurship module, work with BT to help deliver new and innovative development ideas. Coming from a business background the MBA students are able to apply real world business experience to development issues. They provide a fresh pair of eyes with which to survey the social and infrastructure problems that often stymie the progress of developing nations.
Over several successful projects, they have brought their academic research and professional skills to help Busoga Trust evaluate and expand into new project areas. The students benefit from the life experience of working in a very different environment and the practical experience of working within a new paradigm, something that often forces them to think in an entirely new way. Peter Clarke, MBA graduate and founder of skills & development organisation, WE2, suggests to new students preparing to undertake the challenge that, ‘when you find yourself in a totally alien environment thinking outside the box is not optional, it’s mandatory’. For those from the corporate world rural development has a different pace, scale and economic structure. The goals and priorities for a charity like BT are very different to those of a large commercial organisation. Dimsoy Cruickshank, Westminster MBA graduate noted that ‘nothing in a classroom could have adequately prepared us to deal with the complexity and uncertainty that we faced. It was an enlightening life experience for all of us’.
BT have gained new perspectives from students who come from a variety of business backgrounds and cultures. This variety really helps to shape new and exciting ideas, ‘the students may come up with 10 ideas – 3 of which wouldn’t really work in the context of Uganda, 4 that we have already thought of and 3 that we would never dreamt of. This is the real prize and has enabled us to create new programmes that have made a big difference to our community’, Johnson Waibi, BT Country Manager.
The experience for the students also brings additional benefits for BT and the local community. The students learn the reality of the situation in Uganda and help evangelise the situation and needs to their friends and colleagues back in their home countries and a number have continued to raise funds for BT and follow up their work in the community.
The September student group have just returned from Bugembe and their projects are already looking as exciting and innovative as the previous years’. One group of students have been applying their research, analysis and skills to evaluate a new business model for sanitation. Whilst another group have been focusing on the commercialisation of waste products from sanitation to help build a revenue stream which, in turn, can help self-fund the wider sanitation project.
It is hoped that these field trips not only enrich the learning process but, more importantly, help to improve the lives of those less fortunate. BT and Westminster know that we are not going to change the world but, by leveraging different world experiences against challenges, both new and old, we might just make a small difference to a few with whom we share this earth.