Henley Business School Africa has the most MBA scholarships of any business school in the Africa, having awarded 30 this year alone.
“It’s one of our competitive advantages, like our family-friendly MBA or our acclaimed MBAid programme,” says dean and director Jon Foster-Pedley.
“One day, we hope that we won’t be unique, that other business schools will be doing the same for no other reason than it makes the same kind of sense to them as it does to us.”
This year Henley Business School Africa recorded its highest intake yet for the MBA programme, at 317 enrolments.
“Some people think it’s crazy to give away 30 scholarships in a year, no one else does – and you wouldn’t if you were worried about money, but the fact is that once you have a class at a certain level, you’re not giving away someone’s position.”
Instead, says Foster-Pedley you’re greatly enriching the experience of the other students.
“All of a sudden you’ve got the ability to add massive diversity, infusing your seminars with top class creatives. Where else will you get to share a class with a world standard TV anchor, a fantastic comedian or an internationally acclaimed investigative journalist?” he asks.
The scholars benefit too, he says, because they will become cornerstones in their own industries, able to ensure the arts and the media in this case are sustainable on their return, while challenging the corporate conformance of the more traditional MBA students.
But it also allows Henley Business School Africa to salute and honour leaders in other fields, like NGOs and social activism, who have gone above and beyond the call of duty, making real contributions to society for no personal gain by people who would never have the opportunity to be able to study further to return and make an even bigger contribution than they already have.
Apart from recognising them, says Forster-Pedley, it makes a point to others that service to others is not just worthwhile, it should become the norm. Finally, there’s an element of trying to help shape the future economy, he says.
“Emerging industries by definition don’t have money, but they are the future. On the other hand, the current smokestack industries are sending people to learn how to maintain them. If you take it to the Schumpeterian theory of creative destruction, you want to accelerate these disruptors when there is a high degree of stasis or corruption, because corruption stops great talent and great innovation from coming through.
“As a business school, we can do something, we can be agents of positive changes. We are not here to serve corporations or governments but the people. We need to be teaching that the aim of business is prosperity – a better life, better economy and better hope for our children - and not profit.”