EMBA students impressed with entrepreneurs in South Africa

More than 120 students from the Executive MBA and Global Executive OneMBA Classes of 2017 at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) travelled to South Africa for a study tour in early July 2016. Through experiential learning during the trip’s seminars, township visits and company tours in Johannesburg and Cape Town, the Executive MBA students deepened their knowledge on emerging economies.


For the South Africa study tour, which took place 4 – 8 July 2016, the RSM MBA students were split in two groups; one group visited Johannesburg and the other travelled to Cape Town.

Strategic decision-making in emerging markets

The business professionals had the opportunity to develop awareness of challenges firms face within the context of an emerging market. They also enhanced their understanding of the opportunities to develop and conduct business in South Africa, and strengthened their analytical skills, in particular when faced with strategic decision-making in a very different environment.

Rwandese EMBA student Emmanuel Mudahemuka is one of the 68 MBA participants who went to Johannesburg. He said Johannesburg is “a city on the move which is leading the emergence in Africa.” Although he found it disturbing to see inequalities between rich neighbourhoods and townships, he was impressed with the budding entrepreneurs and artists in Alexandra Township.

Taking a new approach

“It’s difficult to copy business models that we have in western countries that are designed for high-end and middle-class markets and apply these to the bottom of the pyramid market,” said Mudahemuka. “Companies need rather to take a new approach to understand their needs and aspirations and develop products from there.”

The EMBA student, who is a digital microfinance consultant for PHB Development in the Netherlands, said the study tour broadened his view of what business means and how it works from different perspectives.

Global competitiveness

The Executive MBA and OneMBA participants attended seminars at the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) in Johannesburg about global competitiveness in South Africa, innovating at the base, and HIV/AIDS and its implications in the workplace. Participants explored Johannesburg-based companies Nandos, Comair, MMI Holdings, Nedbank, Bidvest and Premier Foods during parallel business visits as part of the study tour.

Entrepreneurship in townships

The 58 participants who travelled to Cape Town were hosted by the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business (GSB). During seminars, the Executive MBA students investigated emerging market topics such as business strategies for Africa, political leadership, and Africa’s mobile revolution. In addition to exploring entrepreneurship in townships, the group’s company visits were to Villiera Wines, First National Bank, Old Mutual, Reach Trust, Zoona, and Mezzanine/Vodacom.

In addition to experiential learning, the study tour in South Africa also allowed for Executive MBA students to network and exchange ideas. “I had a really amazing bonding experience with my colleagues and made some new friends,” said Mudahemuka.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s leading research-based 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 carry their innovative mindset into a sustainable future thanks to a first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes. 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, Media & Public Relations Manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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