Africa’s top business school seeks free thinkers for radical innovation

By University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business

Africa's top business school, the University of Cape Town's Graduate School of Business (GSB), is looking for a special kind of person to join its 2015 intake of the Master of Philosophy specialising in Inclusive Innovation (MPhil).

Now in its third year, the MPhil is an interdisciplinary, research-based degree designed to enable free thinking individuals with big ideas to work collaboratively on the development of sustainable solutions to Africa's most intractable problems.

To further support the achievement of this goal, the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship is offering two scholarships for the 2015 programme – to be awarded to outstanding candidates from across Africa.

“Innovation is now firmly recognised as the key driver for growth in both developed and developing economies – but the reality is that the take-up of innovation in Africa, as a key solution to socio-economic issues, is low,” says Dr François Bonnici, director of the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the GSB. The MPhil is positioned to change this.”

Bonnici says that the MPhil creates the conditions for creative people from across the spectrum of disciplines to work together on complex challenges in what is a vital first step in allowing innovation to thrive in Africa.

Students on the MPhil will collaborate with entrepreneurs in the Solution Space, an innovation and entrepreneurship hub located on the GSB campus where learning and action converge to support the development and the incubation of new business models.

“The fuel to innovate is created when individuals who are deeply committed to changing the world for the better and have the right expertise, life experience, passion and ideas, come together and are given free reign and in an environment unconstrained by set cultures and poised to support new possibilities,” says Professor Kosheek Sewchurran, director of the Executive MBA at the GSB.

Candidates on the MPhil can explore inclusive business model innovation across several themes, ranging from healthcare, education, finance, housing, the environment and sustainability. The solutions generated are however, not only limited to new enterprise creation but could be taken up by government or civil society. “We are not placing limits on anything,” says Sewchurran. “Our goal is radical innovation and sustainable solutions for Africa – we aren't concerned with what shape or form these take – only that they work.”

Classes are delivered in four modules and for the majority of year students will spend their time in the field on research activities and the creation and live demonstrations of their inventions. Each student will be expected to develop a creative idea by prototyping and testing the product or service via a pilot and then further developing an inclusive business model.

Walter Baets, director of the GSB, says that the MPhil is part of the GSB's commitment to being rooted in responsiveness relevant to the needs of the continent.

“We are looking for people who are bright and who are extremely passionate about making a difference,” said Baets. “Not your average student, but someone who has proven themselves and now wants to think big, and learn how to apply these ideas to create radical business models, services and products.

“This will help put that into action, through the ideas and innovations it aims to generate nurture and realise. We are seeking to generate world-class innovations to build Africa's future.”