The best for Africa: finance and investment students take on developing economies

For master students of finance and investments, understanding how developing countries face their difficulties – and how financial institutions can help by investing socially responsibly and profitably – is a great way to learn how to become agents of positive change. For student Joan Enric Aumedes Gómez of the MSc Finance and Investments Advanced (MSCFIA) programme at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM), a real-life business case about Sub-Saharan Africa presented by Rabobank was an exceptional learning experience. This is his blog.

“The Food and Agribusiness department at Rabobank challenged us to invest a hypothetical 100 million euros to improve the agricultural value chain in Rwanda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Nigeria and Kenya). Our task was to develop a plan to improve the value chain through improving the cold chain logistics. Food waste is a serious problem in harvesting, storage and transportation of food in these countries, where the systems and technology are inefficient and in many cases perishable products rot on the way to the stores – or they can be left in the fields because the farmer cannot harvest them.

My team had to deal with Rwanda, a small landlocked country in Central Africa. It has struggled to recover from the genocide in 1994, suffers from overpopulation and the country’s economy is based mostly on subsistence agriculture. More than 30 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty, and more than half of the population lives below the poverty line.

It looks like a difficult one, right? First Rabobank organised conference calls with its co-workers who had had some experience in the field, perhaps with a connection with one of those countries or with expertise on project finance.

We also gathered our own information about problems in Rwanda’s agricultural products value chain, and decided how we could tackle them. We contacted experts who had already established corporations in Rwanda, or who had had some connection with the country through a project, or perhaps via a Dutch institution working there. These people gave us extremely valuable input; they knew the real issues in the country. Sharing our ideas with them also helped us to shape our proposal and decide on the best strategy.

The case is part of the Living Management Project course, during which students work with industry and propose business solutions for real-life challenges. It starts with the company briefing students to explain their current challenge. Students are invited to prepare a detailed proposal to be delivered within a few weeks. The final presentations take place at the company’s offices; students present their findings directly to the managers and answer their challenging questions.

Cases in the Living Management Project cover topics such as mergers and acquisitions, asset management and corporate social responsibility.

We performed a financial analysis of our ideas and created a report to present to Rabobank’s managers; the live presentation included questions from the managers, just as in a real presentation to a board. We were graded.

It was very challenging, but it was a fun experience that allowed me to work with some of my classmates for the first time. We learned a lot about Africa, about project financing and the value chain, and we applied concepts that we had learned about in our earlier courses.”

About the course

Students embarking on the next iteration of the MScFIA in September 2017 can expect the same combination of core courses and living management cases with leading financials and corporates. Career development coaching will start early in the academic year to help students to achieve the best career-boosting internships and job applications. Applications for the September 2017 intake of the MSc Finance and Investments Advanced closed at the end of March, but see the web pages for more information about applying to begin studies in September 2018.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top 10 business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at