August 19, 2008
Two non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Central America and central Africa benefited from the know-how and ingenuity of HEC Montréal students in the Intensive MBA program. The students travelled to Panajachel, Guatemala, and Banda, Rwanda, to help the NGOs develop business plans closely geared to their needs, as part of a supervised project.
These student initiatives, financed through individual or group fundraising activities, were overseen by MBAs Without Borders, which agreed for the very first time to send students still working on their MBAs on a mission. In the past, the organization had sent only MBA graduates.
“These first students proved to be enthusiastic, flexible and daring – the perfect example of the type of manager who is likely to really make a difference in the business world, around the globe. We are pleased that we undertook this partnership with HEC Montréal and we hope to see this pilot project turn into a longer-term co-operative arrangement,” says Tal Dehtiar, the organization’s co-founder and President.
In Guatemala, the team of Rana Abu Naameh, Fabio Carriero, Dominic D’Amata, Mauricio Idarraga and Jorge Robles lent a hand to Mercado Global, an NGO based in Panajachel, a city renowned for its talented weavers. The NGO co-ordinates the production of clothing and jewellery by a number of women’s co-operatives. “Our mandate was to improve the supply network by standardizing the quality and prices of raw materials, evaluating existing and potential suppliers and ensuring a steady flow of supplies,” explains Jorge Robles. “We also suggested some marketing tools to help Mercado Global carve out a distinctive position for itself in the main fair trade distribution channels, to allow it to break into the United States market.”
The Rwanda team worked in the village of Banda, without electricity or running water. Félix Boudreault, Stéphanie Émond, Annie Saumier, Jessica Sharafi and Claudel Tchokonté worked with Kageno, an NGO that is setting up an eco-tourism lodge in the Nyungwe National Park. “After visiting several ecolodges elsewhere in Rwanda, we looked at the tourism packages on offer, analyzed all their best practices and drew up a plan to make the Banda lodge stand out,” says Stéphanie Émond. “To distinguish the village from other tourist sites and round out what it has to offer, we suggested that Kageno develop a centre tailored specifically to bird watchers, given the abundance of bird life and the unique character of the nearby bird reserve.”
For a number of years now, HEC Montréal MBA students have had the opportunity to take part in different projects in other lands. Through educational trips like Campus Abroad or supervised projects like MBAs Without Borders, students are travelling more and more to soak up the business culture in other countries or share the expertise they have acquired at the School.
“HEC Montréal trains not only skilled managers who are up to date on the latest management trends, but also corporate citizens with easily exportable expertise,” says Jean Talbot, MBA Program Director at HEC Montréal. “Learning about new work environments, seeing the world differently and adapting their knowledge to a wide variety of stimulating contexts make these managers a very valuable resource for small, medium and large businesses looking to stand out from the crowd.”
To read more about HEC Montréal/MBAs Without Borders projects: http://hecmwb.wordpress.com/