MBA Students Explore Business Ecosystem in Tanzania on the First African Trek
MBA students at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business travel domestically and internationally to network and learn about specific industries through Career Treks. Over winter break, 14 students headed to Tanzania — specifically to the cities of Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar — to learn how business is conducted in Sub-Saharan Africa by exploring the country’s financial, manufacturing, energy, and tourism sectors.
The students met with representatives from American Energy Group, MeTL Group, RE/MAX, and Vervet Global. The trek was led by the Georgetown Black MBA Association. The association’s president, Nomblé Coleman (MBA’18), shared details about the experience.
What motivated you to pursue and lead this opportunity in Tanzania?
Each year, the Georgetown Black MBA Association polls its membership to determine its annual goals and priorities. This year, an overwhelming number of students expressed a desire to travel to Africa and learn about how business is conducted there. Although there was no precedent, we decided to organize a trek to Africa that was open to all McDonough students. We chose Tanzania for the inaugural trek destination due to its growing economy, student demand, and Georgetown’s strong alumni network in the country. Having visited Africa before, I was excited to lead this trip because for most students, it was their first visit to the continent. I believe gaining in-region international experience is a critical part of our transformation into becoming global-ready leaders.
What companies did you network with, and what industries do they serve?
The MeTL Group is a $1.5 billion dollar conglomerate that serves a variety of industries, including agriculture, energy, financial services, real estate, infrastructure, and manufacturing. Mohammed Dewji (B’98) is president and chief executive officer of the MeTL Group, and Fatema Dewji (B’10) is the company’s chief marketing officer. The Dewji family hosted our group of 14 students for a private dinner. The dinner was exceptionally special because Mr. Dewji spent time sitting at different sections of the table to ensure he met every student.
Also, we had an educational and enlightening visit with Vervet Global, where we gained a better understanding of the emerging investment opportunities in Tanzania. At the American Energy Group, we learned about the wide range of solar-powered technologies that are sold for installations in both individual households and major corporations. On the island of Zanzibar, we spoke with the owner of a RE/MAX franchise to understand the booming tourism and real estate markets.
After our business visits, we hosted an alumni and prospective student reception in Dar es Salaam. At the reception, current students were able to share their experiences with prospective students and network with Georgetown alumni.
Which visit did you enjoy the most?
I enjoyed having the opportunity to visit three of the MeTL Group’s factories. We traveled to factories that manufactured sunflower oil, carbonated beverages, and sisal. I am used to being inside corporate boardrooms all day, so it was impactful to see the assembly lines up close and learn about the technology that enables an efficient supply chain and distribution process. Also, I liked sampling “Mo Cola” fresh off of the line!
What did you learn about the business ecosystem in the country?
We learned that the Tanzanian ecosystem is experiencing rapid growth across many industries, particularly in its energy and real estate markets. One similarity of note to the United States was the pride consumers had for buying from and investing in locally owned businesses.
Did this trip encourage any classmates to explore career opportunities in the region?
This trek opened many students’ minds to the possibility of doing business in and partnering with Africa for future ventures. Students were surprised to learn about the exponential growth in the region and were curious to explore investment opportunities.
Did you have time to enjoy the local culture? What impressed you the most?
Yes! We went on a Safari Game Drive and got up close with elephants, giraffes, hippopotamuses, and monkeys! In Zanzibar, we took a long-boat cruise to a disappearing island and had a fresh seafood lunch. Also, we interacted with the renowned Maasai warriors and participated in their traditional jumping celebration.
Do you have any words of wisdom for students who would like to pursue treks in Africa in the future?
Don’t hesitate, do it! Africa’s economy is flourishing, so building a network and understanding available investment opportunities will be extremely valuable in the upcoming years. Additionally, treks provide you with tangible experiences to complement your theoretical knowledge, thereby enabling you to have more meaningful conversations in future job interviews and discussions. Lastly, traveling internationally with your fellow MBA classmates creates long-lasting bonds that extend far beyond your years at Georgetown McDonough.