Professor Seeks to Help Africa by Supporting Business Education

June 22, 2010 Richard America

To Professor of the Practice Richard America, the key to solving many of Africa’s problems – ranging from poverty to technology to globalization – is to create institutions that teach the next generation of Africans to become modern effective professional managers.

“Weak management quality is a major reason for chronic poverty and underdevelopment. Improving the institutions that train modern managers is crucial,” America said. “It should be a World Bank and USAID priority. Major U.S. multinationals and foundations also should make it a priority. Until and unless they do, the problems that make negative headlines will continue with little improvement.”

Through what America calls the Africa Business School Initiative, he and colleagues at the University of Botswana and the University of Pretoria in South Africa have obtained funding from the Kellogg Foundation to create a network of business programs in Africa. They hold annual workshops in Johannesburg for business school faculty and deans about how to improve teaching, research, executive education, small enterprise assistance, and internal operations. Each year, 30 schools are invited, and about 15 have been actively engaged since 2007.

During the past four years, professors from Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business have donated and shipped large quantities of business school textbooks, case books, and journals to universities in Tanzania, Mozambique, the Republic of the Congo, Ghana, and most recently to Cuttington University in Liberia.

“Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business is becoming known in Africa for this work,” said America. “I hope to expand and deepen the work as funds become available. The goal is to engage 100 universities and produce 10 AACSB accredited business schools over the next 15 years. That’s a tough challenge, because getting AACSB accredited is a long, hard process.”

America has visited 25 countries and 40 universities in Africa since starting this work in 2001. He also has taught a course on enterprise development at the International School of Management in Dakar, Senegal, every year since 2005.