Spotlight on Anderson in Africa

by Carolyn Gray Anderson

What draws Anderson students, faculty and alumni to work in Africa? Lucy Allard (GEMBA '06), executive director of the Center for Global Management, says, "Emerging markets, including many African countries, present an especially ripe opportunity for students to apply their business school knowledge and skills to make a positive and impactful difference in the world." The CGM supports field study projects focused on community impact and entrepreneurial development in emerging markets. "Anderson's business expertise is welcomed by NGOs, national ministries of health, and SMEs and startups making forays into venture capital and international trade."

In February 2015, Bloomberg Business released its list of the fastest-growing economies, with Kenya in third place and Nigeria at number six. A mid-2015 report by rating firm Moody's had Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique in the top 10, and Business Insider counted Rwanda and Tanzania among its top 13, with Ethiopia in the number one slot. Some of the African countries in which the CGM has supported field study projects have included Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Liberia, Morocco, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Black@AndersonGlobal Witness was the client for an analysis of the impacts of industrial logging in Cameroon.


Professor Sebastian Edwards is arguably Anderson's resident expert in global emerging markets — and not just in Latin America, the topic of many books and articles by the former chief economist for Latin America at the World Bank. In 2014 Edwards published Toxic Aid, an extensive economic history of Tanzania that charts the country's collapse and recovery since its independence in 1961 — from the policies of African Socialism, rocky relationships with the IMF, and significant reforms of the 1990s and 2000s. Edwards is also co-director of the National Bureau of Economic Research's Africa Project, launched in 2007 to study economic success stories in Africa.

But rapid and even successful economic growth in a developing nation doesn't necessarily benefit the whole population, especially where people might be particularly disenfranchised following civil war or in the face of resource conflicts and health crises.

One of the main areas where Anderson's research, management and teaching expertise is shared productively in Africa is in the health care sector. Anderson's most venerable and established formal partnership with African countries is administered by the Harold and Pauline Price Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. The UCLA/Johnson & Johnson Management Development Institute, a landmark leadership and management development program for health care professionals in East Africa, West Africa and southern Africa, enhances the entrepreneurial and management capacity of sub-Saharan African health organizations to care, treat and support disease-stricken populations.

MDI, developed in 2006 by founding faculty director Victor Tabbush, UCLA Anderson adjunct professor emeritus, and led since last year by Associate Professor Miguel Unzueta, just marked its 10th anniversary with a celebration in Kenya. MDI was established by core partners Amref Health Africa (formerly African Medical and Research Foundation or AMREF) and the Price Center, with J&J providing generous financial support.

Read more about MDI’s 10th anniversary

UCLA/J&J Management Development Institute Celebrates 10 Years Learn More

Meeting African Nations’ Health Priorities in the Face of Scarce Resources Learn More

Learn more about AMR and SMR teams’ work in Africa

Piloting an MHealth Project in Kenya with UCLA School of Nursing Watch Video

Improving Breast Cancer Care, Ethiopia Watch Video

Strengthening Systems for Distribution of Health Care Services with Intra Health, Kenya Watch Video

Developing Sustainable Retail Distribution with Mercy Corps, UgandaWatch Video

Global Witness: Analyzing the Potential of the Industrial Logging Sector and Alternative Forest Uses in LiberiaWatch Video

The Global Health Market in UgandaWatch Video

SMR Team Partners with Women and Health Alliance International to Evaluate a Life-Saving Motorcycle-Ambulance Program Learn More

International Field Study Projects Engage Partners for Innovation Worldwide Learn More

Meet some enterprising Anderson students and alumni

Sheeva Sairafi (’15), social enterprise entrepreneur collaborating with artisans in Rwanda Learn More

Brian Wasige (’17), impact investor from Kenya by way of Glasgow Learn More

Tabbush was well positioned to lead the formation of MDI because he had been on the faculty of the University of Nairobi and the region was familiar to him. And, he says, MDI's capacity-building effort met a major need: Despite ample antiretrovirals and clinical training, in some regions where HIV/AIDS were most prevalent a serious dearth of management and leadership skills prevented deploying them to their potential. To date, nearly 870 participants from 32 African countries have graduated from the program.

Tabbush says the collaboration's chief accomplishments include "success in streamlining service delivery to allow more individuals to access more and better care."

"The people we're working with are making decisions with scarce resources," adds Unzueta. "We talk about psychology and biases and how these things impact what you do with scarce resources. We put things in a bigger picture, give them a framework."

Until 2010, the MDI was focused solely on HIV/AIDS. In 2011, the focus was expanded to health systems generally and now invites the participation of those involved in implementing national health priorities in the areas of communicable diseases — of which HIV/AIDS is one — and chronic diseases as well.

Assistant Professor Elisa Long has investigated HIV-epidemic control measures internationally, including in South Africa and Ghana, and has built mathematical models to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of HIV screening — evidence the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cite in their recommendations for increased screening of high-risk individuals. She has also studied how best to eliminate mother-to-child HIV transmission based on evidence gathered in Ghana.

Several Applied Management Research, Strategic Management Research and Global Access Program projects, as well as the CGM's global immersion courses, also focus on analyzing issues and developing recommendations to the delivery of crucial medical care. Anderson students are enlisted to provide business solutions for these organizations, which may be serving populations with financial and other access constraints.

Many of these global field study theses present golden opportunities to team up with UCLA's world-class medical researchers and combine business knowledge with health care to improve the delivery of health services in the face of challenges confronting both providers and patients in regions where resources are limited and infrastructure may pose obstacles. For instance, a GAP team supported by the CGM conducted a study for the Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa to help determine how the organization could improve HIV and STI testing in rural communities. In association with UCLA Center for World Health, the team focused on ways that HSRC could improve outcomes through strategic partnerships and operations best practices.

CGM runs an exchange program for UCLA Anderson's FEMBA and EMBA students with the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town and welcomes students from the GSB to Anderson during the summer. UCLA Anderson MBA students will be visiting South Africa for the fourth time in September for a global immersion course. The previous three courses have focused on health care; the course that will visit Cape Town in September will focus on social entrepreneurship and social innovation in South Africa.

Black@Anderson
AMR students traveled to Ethiopia and Uganda, and made recommendations for developing the Hawassa University Referral Hospital Breast Cancer Unit as a model for oncology care.

Tabbush has no trouble envisioning the growth of business partnerships for U.S. and African entrepreneurs. He says, "Others now have woken up to the realization that Africa not only presents a need but offers opportunities for business school students."

In-country partners are essential, however. And this cuts both ways when African countries want to expand their trade overseas. One Anderson AMR team has been invited by the Republic of Zambia to research solutions for leveraging the African Growth and Opportunity Act, legislation enacted in May 2000 that significantly enhances market access to the U.S. among eligible Sub-Saharan African countries. AGOA offers incentives to build free markets and open opportunities for trade, and the CGM-supported Anderson team will help Zambia find the most effective ways to participate.

An EMBA SMR project in Tanzania is developing a strategic business plan detailing how the Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation Training Center could become a self-sustaining social enterprise. Another AMR team is working with the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town to determine how its initiative to advance social entrepreneurs fits into the ecosystem of innovation labs on the African continent and which components are scalable, adaptable and transferable.

Another AMR team is working with Colorado-based Bead for Life, a social enterprise started in Uganda, where the founders met a woman making rolled paper bead jewelry that they knew they could find her a market for. The Anderson team was engaged to expand Bead for Life's new Street Business School — a training program for women at the bottom of the economic pyramid that builds their entrepreneurial capacity and helps them start sustainable business ventures. Specifically, the Anderson students will research the market and recommend a recruiting strategy, as well as identify the Sub-Saharan countries and locations in greatest need of the SBS model.

Black@Anderson UCLA Anderson alumna and Larry Wolfen Entrepreneurial Spirit Award winner Sheeva Sairafi (FEMBA '15) jumped on the Business Creation Option when she enrolled at Anderson. Sairafi left a corporate career to launch Local+Lejos, a home décor startup that partners with artisans in the developing world to craft contemporary designs using traditional techniques. Her slogan is "empowerment through collaboration," and she does business with several collectives of weavers in Rwanda and other artisans in Latin America. "Local + Lejos ('local and distant,' roughly) is a for-profit company," Sairafi explains. "But it is designed first and foremost to create lasting employment for women in developing nations who are struggling to support their families. And I'm talking basics here: food, electricity, running water and education."

Binding these separate endeavors are Anderson's business acumen and its community's great interest in emerging markets. The influence and continental interests moving in both directions mean the odds are increasing that a firmer embrace of Africa is on the horizon.