Kelley Opportunities in Africa (Part 1)

At first, it may not be clear what kind of business learning opportunities might be available in Swaziland, Africa for Kelley School of Business students. The southern African nation is relatively poor, with the highest prevalence of AIDS in the world and, as a result, a large orphan population. But this population, and Africa as a whole, is looking to the future.

“Seven out of 10 of the fastest-growing economies in the world are African and half of the people entering the workforce in the next 10 years are going to be African,” says Kelley Indianapolis Executive Dean Phil Cochran. “The U.S. imagination hasn’t really discovered Africa yet. In Africa, you’re talking about over a billion people - really an emerging economic powerhouse.

“A lot of our students are currently working and going to China and Southeast Asia. In another 10-20 years it’s going to be Africa.”

Dean Cochran is among a handful of IUPUI Deans who have traveled to Swaziland to consider potential study abroad programs to aid the country (IUPUI Honors College has sponsored study abroad there for three years.) How can American students make an impact?

The trips are led by Cynthia Prime, a former management consultant who left her corporate career to start the nonprofit Saving Orphans Through Healthcare (SOHO) in Swaziland. Cynthia can connect IUPUI programs with local civic leaders, educators, government, as well as healthcare and business leaders. Cynthia takes the deans on tours of facilities, and is working with IUPUI schools to create educational opportunities that help the young Swazis.

“Over half the population is under 18 and many have lost their parents due to the AIDS pandemic so they’ve taken on a lot of responsibilities,” explains Prime, an Indianapolis resident.

“Entrepreneurship is key to their survival. You see them starting early - going to store and buying chips to sell them to their classmates at school. Selling something for more than you buy it is deeply ingrained in them. Their minds are fertile as far as entrepreneurship is concerned.”