Once upon a time, there was a government lawyer who was very unfulfilled in her career. She wanted to transition into a career in social business, specifically geared towards poverty alleviation in developing countries, despite lacking any relevant work experience. So she went on a journey from Washington, DC, to Port Harcourt, Nigeria, with several stops in between. This is her story.
It’s my story, of course, and it started at IE Business School, in Madrid, Spain. I chose business school in order to gain the foundational knowledge and tools I needed to make the big leap, and I chose IE for two reasons. First, IE has myriad opportunities for students interested in social business and sustainability. Second, the school’s location in Madrid and diverse student body would give me the chance to live in a foreign country, learn another language, and work with multinational teams.
During my year at IE, I did all those things and more, availing myself of every possible opportunity to get involved in social enterprise. As a member of the Board of Net Impact, I organized Impact Weekend, a social business plan competition. That summer, while some of my classmates interned for multinationals, I participated in the Emzingo NexGen Program, a fellowship that placed MBA students on consulting projects with social enterprises and NGOs in South Africa. My project entailed developing a strategic plan for a new product rollout for Zazida Institute of Entrepreneurship, an educational institution for aspiring entrepreneurs in Africa, as well as undergoing leadership training and advising on a social business case. Because of my Zazida experience, I was invited to join the founding team of Next Generation Lab, a start-up that reached the finals of the school’s VentureLab start-up incubator competition. Next Generation Lab is an accelerator for family businesses and SMEs in emerging markets that is now operating in Johannesburg. Its mission is to transform family businesses and SMEs into engines for economic development and job creation.
Taken as a whole, my IE experience was valuable not for the coursework alone, but for the opportunities it afforded me to plunge headlong into the worlds of social business and entrepreneurship in emerging economies. It was these opportunities, rather than the courses or the degree, that enabled me to change location, sector, and function. I first took on a short-term consulting project at Yunus Social Business, a Frankfurt-based company founded by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus. At YSB, I helped launch a social business incubator fund in Tunisia in conjunction with the African Development Bank, conducting a search for social business incubates and incubator staff, and training stakeholders in creating, incubating, funding and facilitating social businesses……..- to be continued
Check back soon to see how Yvonne´s story continues!!!!!