Young African Leaders Take the Capstone® Business Simulation Challenge

Post by Capsim
August 6, 2014

Challenged with helping young African leaders expand their business acumen in six weeks, professors from Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame University decided to offer hands-on experience as well as theory, by using Capstone® Business Simulation.

Chicago, Illinois – August 06, 2014

Dr John Michel, Associate Professional Specialist at Mendoza, said it was obvious the carefully selected group of 25 Business and Entrepreneurship Fellows – part of a flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) set up by President Obama in 2010 – was “enormously talented” and yet their “business knowledge and experience was often tightly confined along functional lines.”

“For many, Capstone was an eye opening experience at the integrative elements of business success,” Dr Michel said. “The simulation is carefully designed so that it is not possible to generate desired business success from excellence in a single functional area, all areas must be aligned. Several participants commented that this significantly altered the way they think about their businesses and are planning immediate changes upon their return.”

Takunda Chingonzo, co-founder of NeoLab Technologies which is working to provide free community Internet access, said his goal was to take the simulation experience home to Zimbabwe because “we need strategists now, and this forces a leader to think about the bigger picture, about five, six, seven different departments and their effect on the end goal.”

Visiting Professor of Marketing Dr Peter Opio, who co-taught the simulation program, said the experience helped participants “break their assumptions because they have to think broad, they have to think on their feet, and they have to look at all the different aspects of business at once.”

“Capstone gives the opportunity for them to practice what team leadership, decision-making using robust data and evidence is all about,” Dr Opio said. “I’ve taught human resources management, I’ve taught strategy, but no product brings this out more realistically and more robustly than Capstone. It is fun – but it shakes them.”

According to editor and writer Lerato Tshabalala from South Africa, “the University of Notre Dame has been great in teaching us to come together…saying Africa can get better by bringing everyone together….and what the simulation did for us was to say ‘we are running a company’, it’s not your company, it is not my company, it’s our company. When we lose, we lose together. You can’t point fingers.”

Lerato said the simulation taught her that just having a great business idea is not enough. “I think the idea is not enough…you actually need to be practical about how you are going to take this amazing thing and turn it into something practical.”

For further information, please contact Evan Meyer at Capsim evan.meyer(at)capsim(dot)com or call +1 312 477 7200.

About the YALI program

The Obama administration’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is an investment in the next generation of African leaders. Nearly 1 in 3 Africans are aged between 10 and 24, and approximately 60 percent of Africa’s total population is under 35. President Obama launched YALI in 2010 to support young African leaders as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa.

The Business and Entrepreneurship Institute is part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship program. It selects aspiring leaders who have set up or plan to start their own business ventures in Africa. The Institutes expose participants to business and entrepreneurial approaches in the United States, building technical and leadership capacity in areas such as strategy, operations, supply chain management, business ethics, social entrepreneurship, microfinance, organizational development and management, marketing, innovation and technology, emerging markets and risk analysis, strategic business planning, and corporate social responsibility

The program at Notre Dame in the summer of 2014 was funded by a grant from the State Department and sponsorship from IBM, Coca-Cola and support from Capsim Managment Simulations, Inc.

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