Business and Business Schools Working Together at the Local Level (Part 3)

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 20.50.41Goal 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) focuses on revitalising global partnerships for sustainable development. Two key stakeholders already working on issues relating to the SDGs are PRME and the United Nations Global Compact. Both groups operate as a network of networks, with local offices focusing on rooting both the Principles of PRME and of the Global Compact within different national, regional, cultural and linguistic contexts. Together they can have a significant influence at the local level.

In fact, business schools and companies are increasingly working together to further sustainability goals within different national contexts as well as facilitating outreach learning, policy dialogue and collective action. Partnerships between Global Compact Local Networks and PRME signatories have been, and increasingly will be, an important tool in moving the sustainable development agenda forward.

For the next couple of weeks we will feature a very small selection of some of the many ways that these two groups can and are working together. In Part 1, we looked at how business schools are working with Global Compact offices locally and promoting the Ten Principles of the Global Compact. In Part 2 , we looked at how business schools are promoting and providing training around the Ten Principles of the Global Compact. Here in Part 3 we look at how schools are working with Global Compact Local Networks on specific sustainability issues.

Working on Specific Global Compact Issues/Projects

All PRME signatories are undertaking research that connects to the Ten Principles of the Global Compact as well as the SDGs. Many, such as the Universidad del Norte in Colombia and Kemmy Business School in Ireland use the Ten Principles of the Global Compact as a base for the development of new research proposals. Externado University Management Faculty, for example, has an agreement with the Global Compact Local Network Colombia to do research focused on the companies participating in the Local Network.

  • Research on specific sustainability issues: The University of New South Wales worked on the development of the Business Reference Guide to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in collaboration with the UNGC and the Global Compact Local Network Australia. The reference guide was developed to help businesses understand, respect, and support the rights of Indigenous peoples by illustrating how these rights are relevant to business activities
  • Organising events for further discussion and action: Glasgow Caledonian University’s New York campus hosted a series of Fashion Sharing Progress ‘Town Hall’ events focused on social responsibility, ethics and sustainable fashion in collaboration with the UNGC. These involved teams of academics and professionals collaborating with students and industry experts to bring different perspectives to bear on existing problems and facilitate new learning. IEDC-Bled School of Management partnered with members of the UNGC Local Network Slovenia to organize workshops around the theme of “Health promotion in the workplace as part of the corporate social responsibility and sustainable business development.” They also launched a Declaration on Fair Business that introduces the principle of anti-corruption and provides guidelines for creating and improving compliance programmes in signatories of the UNGC.
  • Mobilizing business action on the SDGs: PRME schools in Portugal and Spain are collaborating with the Global Compact Local Network Spain on a joint project called “Map of Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals,” which aims to make the 17 goals more understandable for corporations, especially SMEs. Companies and universities are working together to identify the strengths and weaknesses related to each of the SDGs to facilitate their implementation in the Spanish socio-economic environment.

 

For more examples of how PRME Signatories are working with Global Compact local chapters see:

The First Report on PRME Chapters

Where to find Business Partners for your Sustainability Projects

8 Tips for Developing Strong Business-Business School Partnerships

Partner with Business Schools To Advance Sustainability

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Business and Business Schools Working Together at the Local Level (Part 2)

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 20.50.41Goal 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) focuses on revitalising global partnerships for sustainable development. Two key stakeholders already working on issues relating to the SDGs are PRME and the United Nations Global Compact. Both groups operate as a network of networks, with local offices focusing on rooting both the Principles of PRME and of the Global Compact within different national, regional, cultural and linguistic contexts. Together they can have a significant influence at the local level.

In fact, business schools and companies are increasingly working together to further sustainability goals within different national contexts as well as facilitating outreach learning, policy dialogue and collective action. Partnerships between Global Compact Local Networks and PRME signatories  have been, and increasingly will be, an important tool in moving the sustainable development agenda forward.

For the next couple of weeks we will feature a very small selection of some of the many ways that these two groups can and are working together. In Part I, we looked at how business schools are working with Global Compact offices locally. Here we look at how business schools are promoting and providing training around the Ten Principles of the Global Compact.

Promoting the Global Compact

  • Raising awareness about the Global Compact: The Universidad Del Pacifico in Peru organizes a yearly “Support Week for Global Compact.” During this week, students and teachers from the different faculties present their research and projects related to the Six Principles for Responsible Management Education and the Ten Principles of the Global Compact. Global Compact companies participate in the event as well. In Korea, Kyung Hee University School of Management regularly organises field trips where students have the opportunity to visit companies that are part of the UN Global Compact Network Korea. During these trips they have a chance to see the company’s sustainability work.
  • Engaging students in the Global Compact: Students involved in the undergraduate internship programme at the University of Wollongong Faculty of Business in Australia are required to focus on the Ten Principles of the Global Compact at their workplace as part of their assessment. Internships are arranged with corporate partners who are also part of the Global Compact and have a strong focus on sustainability, such as Westpac and National Australia Bank..
  • Promoting the Global Compact to academic institutions: As an early signatory to the Global Compact, Ivey Business School in Canada is leveraging its extensive publishing case collection by matching up the cases with the Ten Principles of the Global Compact. You can now search for cases related to the different Principles.
  • Integrating the Principles into teaching: Instituto Superior de Educacion Administracion y Desarollo in Spain is taking a lead in a project involving the PRME Chapter Iberian, looking at indicators to implement Six Principles of PRME into business schools, including the Ten Principles of the Global Compact and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The University of New England in Australia annually monitors their courses to ensure that they address the social, governance and environmental objectives of the Global Compact.

Training for Global Compact Companies

Business schools are increasingly tapping into opportunities to work with Global Compact Local Networks and companies to provide needed training and raise awareness around the Global Compact Principles and their application. For example:

  • Training around specific issues for UNGC: Several years ago, Copenhagen Business School initiated a Board Programme with the UN Global Compact that aimed to support boards of directors to effectively oversee and help drive their company’s sustainability strategy. This is now part of the UN Global Compact offerings. In the UK, Aston Business School provides human rights training for companies through their Global Compact Local Network.
  • Assisting with the integration of the Global Compact generally: Since 2013, Universidad EAFIT and the Colombian multinational SAGEN have worked together on an initiative called “First Contact Pilot Programme” to promote sustainability under Global Compact parameters amongst ISAGEN suppliers. They also designed a Global Compact programme for Responsible Suppliers, a 10-hour programme focused on the Ten Principles of the Global Compact open to managers from companies in their Local Network. Registered participants received accreditation for participating.
  • Providing specialized diplomas: Externado University Management Faculty offers a diploma in Business and Human Rights, in collaboration with the local network, aimed at deepening participants’ understanding on human rights and their relationship to business. The university also invited small and medium sized companies to take part in their First Steps in CSR programme, also in partnership with the Global Compact Local Network. More than 250 SMEs have participated in this programme.

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Business and Business Schools Working Together at the Local Level (Part 1)

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 20.50.41Goal 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) focuses on revitalising global partnerships for sustainable development. Two key stakeholders already working on issues relating to the SDGs are PRME and the United Nations Global Compact. Both groups operate as a network of networks, with local offices focusing on rooting both the Principles of PRME and of the Global Compact within different national, regional, cultural and linguistic contexts. Together they can have a significant influence at the local level.

In fact, business schools and companies are increasingly working together to further sustainability goals within different national contexts as well as facilitating outreach learning, policy dialogue and collective action. Partnerships between Global Compact Local Networks and PRME signatories have been, and increasingly will be, an important tool in moving the sustainable development agenda forward.

For the next couple of weeks we will feature a very small selection of some of the many ways that both works can work together.

Business Schools Working with Global Compact Offices Locally

Business schools are increasingly connecting with their Global Compact Local Network offices in a range of ways. The first is in assisting the Global Compact locally to be as effective as possible. For example, schools are involved in the following ways:

  •  Strengthening the operations of the Global Compact Local Network: A cross-disciplinary team of students from Haas School of Business at the University of California Berkeley (USA) engaged with the UN Global Compact Local Network in the US to refine the organization’s value proposition and expand its membership and partnership engagement levels. They also proposed a new funding mechanism, which was taken into consideration.
  • Assisting in preparing Communication on Progress Reports (Global Compact’s SIPs): The American University of Cairo provides a full day training session for students to qualify to assist the Global Compact’s participants in generating their Communication on Progress reports. In Canada, students at Ivey Business School worked with UN Global Compact LEAD companies to document their sustainability goals and progress in real time.
  • Maintaining an advisory role: ISAE/FGV plays an active role in the UN Global Compact Local Network in Brazil. The President of ISAE, Norman Arruda Filho, is also the Vice President of the Global Compact Brazilian Steering Committee. They coordinate the Education Group of the Global Compact Brazilian Committee and held a series of lectures to promote PRME and the Global Compact. ISAE was also involved in reviewing and redesigning the organizational structure and governance model of the UN Global Compact Local Network in Brazil, including researching Brazilian members’ perceptions of UN Global Compact Principles and how to improve the performance of the local committee. The American University of Cairo also sits on the UN Global Compact Egypt Board.
  • Actively participating: Business schools are encouraged to engage with their Global Compact Local Networks. For example, Sabanci University in Turkey is a member of the Global Compact Local Network Turkey Task Force on Women’s Empowerment Principles, which ties in well with their extensive programmes in this area. Universidad EAFIT, a leading member of the Global Compact Local Network Colombia, participated in a national working group on the UN Global Compact’s Anti Corruption Principle in collaboration with some of the largest companies in the country.

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Training a New Generation of African Entrepreneurs – ALTIS and E4Impact

2-GraduationCeremony 2Sub-Saharan Africa is a region with enormous growth potential, but there are significant challenges to assure this growth is inclusive. In Africa, SMEs generate only 17% of the GDP and 30% of employment, while in OECD countries figures ram up to 50% and 60%, respectively. The «migration phenomenon» from the African continent is, in part, a consequence of the lack of local businesses able to generate sustainable employment opportunities and wealth for communities.

In response to this, ALTIS Postgraduate School of Business and Society launched E4Impact, a special MBA programme aimed at training a new class of African leaders who will be able to create jobs in the sustainable private sector in their countries. This perfectly fits ALTIS’ mission to foster impact entrepreneurship and management for sustainable development. I recently spoke with Jessica Vaghi, Communications Manager at E4Impact Foundation, about the impacts of this initiative.

What is the E4Impact MBA

E4Impact, launched in 2010, became a Foundation spin-off of Università Cattolica (ALTIS) in 2015 with the contribution of Securfin, Mapei, Salini-Impregilo, Always Africa Association, ENI and Bracco. The Foundation offers the Global MBA in Impact Entrepreneurship in collaboration with Università Cattolica and a local university from the host country. The first MBA was offered in Kenya in 2010; now it’s also offered in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Ethiopia.

The MBA is a unique 12-16 month executive program that guides active and aspiring entrepreneurs in starting or scaling their businesses, providing them simultaneously with an academic and business acceleration experience. It is comprised of a flexible blend of class lessons, distance learning, mentoring and networking events. Furthermore, participants are supported by a Business Coach: a dedicated business consultant that assists them in developing their business plan and establishing an industry network. There are also several occasions for participants to pitch their project to investors and the financial community in order to foster relationships of trust with these actors.

How did it come about?

Would-be entrepreneurs, owners of existing SMEs and successful impact entrepreneurs are hindered in various ways in Sub-Saharan Africa. They lack the business acumen necessary to have dialogue with financial institutions and struggle to find the structure and guidance to systematically test their ideas in the marketplace. Most MBA programs for African people are not aimed at entreprenuers and focus more on theory than on practice. African universities need to enhance their ability to offer educational programs for entrepreneurs, thus becoming a long-term driver of change.

The E4Impact MBA helps attenuate these problems and weakens the probability of collapse of new enterprises. It supports local universities in offering action-oriented entrepreneurial education and in becoming part of a pan-African system. The MBA is not an academic exercise, but applied learning, where entrepreneurs are guided in verifying the feasibility of their business project and in drafting an investor-ready business plan. The program is built around entrepreneurs’ business ideas and each academic module works on a particular aspect of running a business (Strategy, Marketing, Accounting & Finance, Operations, HR).

The first iteration of this course was set in Italy. In 2005, ALTIS launched an MBA program for African entrepreneurs. However, many students remained in Europe after the course instead of going back to their countries. Therefore, the program was moved to Sub-Saharan African countries and E4Impact was born with the goal of becoming the leading Pan-African university alliance for training and coaching a new generation of impact entrepreneurs capable of combining economic success with positive social impact.

What have been some of the challenges of E4Impact MBA? 

The biggest challenge has been finding an academic formula that suits not only to country’s context, but also to the entrepreneurs’ needs. The first two MBA editions in Kenya had a full-time formula. Although entrepreneurs liked the programme, it was soon clear that this wasn’t the right formula because they had no time to work on their businesses.

Moreover, the old editions followed a continental approach in the sense that people from all over Africa moved to Kenya to attend the MBA. However, creating a network around the entrepreneur and his/her business was not easy if he/she was out of the country.

In its third edition, E4Impact implemented its current academic formula: always aiming to assure students have an African CV that meets International standards.

The current formula is part-time (39 working days in class and distance learning modules) and has a country approach (participants are residents in the country where they attend the MBA). It enables entrepreneurs to keep on with their daily jobs while working on their business projects and helps establish a solid network of partners that are useful for business development, model testing and validation.

What about some of the successes? 

E4Impact counts 196 impact entrepreneurs under training and 185 already trained, 35% of which are women. We calculated that the 73% of alumni have a business in place and they provide 497 jobs.

There are seven local university partners: Tangaza University College (Nairobi), Catholic Institute of Business and Technology (Accra), University of Makeni, Uganda Martyrs University (Kampala), Centre de Recherche et d’Action pour la Paix (Abidjan), Saint Augustine University of Tanzania (Mwanza) and Institute Supérieur the Management (Dakar). E4Impact has trained 35 people among local university staff and professors; in 2017 this figure will rise to at least 63.

In 2012, E4Impact was the first non-American program awarded with the Ashoka Innovation University Award.

E4Impact’s greatest success, though, is represented by its entrepreneurs and their impact businesses. For example, Jacqueline Kiage, entrepreneur from the 2nd edition of the MBA in Kenya is the co-Founder of Innovation Eye Centre, a health social enterprise that offers high quality, affordable and accessible eye care services to the community in the South Western Region of Kenya and beyond. Osei Bobie, entrepreneur from the 2nd edition of the MBA in Ghana,is Chief Operation Officer & Founder of Farmers’ Hope, a Ghanaian enterprise that produces a potent and affordable organic fertilizer with local raw materials that improves the soil structure over long period of time. Similarly, Jody Ogana, entrepreneur from the 4th edition of the MBA in Kenya, is General Manager of The GoDown Arts Centre, a non-profit enterprise that provides the first Kenyan multi-disciplinary platform for arts, and there are many more.

How are these shared in Italy with students as well?

In 2012, E4Impact launched an internship program for students of the Università Cattolica in Milan to take part in the E4Impact programme. Twenty-four Italian students have already been sent to different African partner universities during the MBA academic year. They have assisted business coaches in his/her job and helped the African entrepreneurs transform their business ideas into bankable business plans. Some of the students also worked on their theses, developing case studies based on successful businesses of E4Impact impact entrepreneurs.

Given the relevance of the experience, E4Impact aims at extending the internship programme to students of other universities focused on sustainability and sustainable development.

What’s next for the initiative?

E4Impact aims to offer the MBA in at least 15 African countries by 2020. The final objective is to become the leading Pan-African alliance of universities focused on sustainability, able to support a growing basin of African impact entrepreneurs. In 2017, E4Impact MBA will be offered also in Ethiopia, Rwanda and South Africa; by 2020,in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Congo DR and Angola.

Thanks to its MBA, E4Impact facilitates the expansion of African and International SMEs oriented to sustainability in the sub-Saharan area. By matching them with reliable local entrepreneurs, E4Impact offers small businesses a low cost, low risk opportunity to enter African markets in countries where the MBA is offered.

E4Impact launched the first pilot project, “First-Step Africa,” in the 2014/2015 academic year with the Italian enterprise, SIPA, which is interested in exploring Ghana’s market of plastic containers. They are currently working with 5 companies and there are already 20 interested companies for the upcoming academic year.

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Adamawa Peacemakers Initiative and the American University of Nigeria

AUN

The American University of Nigeria sees its role as a “Development University.” It focuses on the traditional roles of repository and transmitter of culture and knowledge as well as the creation of new knowledge. But, it also focuses on the practical role that universities must play in the development of a nation. One such role is to promote peace in their region. I spoke with Dr. Vrajlal Sapovadia, Dean at the American University of Nigeria about their projects in this area.

What is the Adamawa Peacemakers Initiative and how did it come about?

The Adamawa Peacemakers Initiative (API) is non-profit, non-political organization working to foster unity, harmony and prosperity in Adamawa state. After a nationwide strike against the removal of fuel subsidies in 2012, AUN President Dr. Margee Ensign and then Chairman of the AUN Board, Ahmed Joda reached out to religious and community leaders of Yola to understand the sources of tension and find ways to defuse them and promote peace and stability. API members identify “vulnerable youth” in the community who are then offered training and support in a number of AUN funded and organized initiatives. As at-risk youth are frequently targeted and recruited by Boko Haram, API’s peace model focuses on bringing youth back into the fold, enhancing their tolerance across social, ethnic and cultural divides through sports and peace workshops, and preparing them for education and practical training programs.

Who is involved in the Initiative?

The Adamawa Peacemakers Initiative is a partnership that unites academic leaders of the University and religious and community leaders of API in the pursuit of peace and reconciliation. Members of API are drawn from religious groups, business and government across Adamawa State, including representatives of the Lamido of Adamawa, the Traditional Ruler of the Adamawa Emirate, the Society for Support of Islam, Christian Association of Nigeria, Inter-Faith Mediation Center, Muslim-Christian Forum, Muslim Council, Traders’ Associations, and the American University of Nigeria.

OurPeace work derives from the philosophy of the university that is to set itself as the first development university in the country where students are trained to understand and solve problems in accordance with their deepest values and beliefs, using interdisciplinary approach to education.” This philosophy commits the university to helping its community and society achieve equitable and sustainable prosperity, where all have the freedom and opportunity to pursue their dreams, based on respect for the traditions, religion and cultural heritage of the students.

What are the key features of the programme and how does it work?

API has a number of ongoing projects, including:

  • Peace through Sports: Recruiting marginalized youth to attend peace studies workshops and participate in soccer and volleyball tournaments in order to promote cross-cultural communication and understanding.
  • IT Training Programme for students from at-risk communities at the AUN’s African Center for Information and Communications Technology Training & Innovation
  • Entrepreneurship Training Program teaches students the basics of entrepreneurship, including financial literacy, market research, entity formation and proposal development
  • Grand Alliance for Employment coordinates and develops projects that will increase employment in the region, especially for the vulnerable

API has ongoing projects such as “The Peacemakers” television show, annually celebrated Peace Day, Peace Lecture Series, IT training and literacy programs, tutoring programs aimed at combatting high illiteracy rates in the state and a programme to motivate students towards science-related careers.

What have been some of the challenges?

One big challenge is local language. Few faculties know Hausa or Fulani. Local volunteers are used to translate key messages during conversation. Transport to interior part of the region is another challenge, particularly under security threats. The roads, electricity and telephone work also contributes to our challenges..

Successes?

The university has made a huge investment in information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure. It has one of the best data centre in the world. The programme leverages this excellent ICT infrastructure through a range of programmes aimed at providing ICT-based entrepreneurship training. Youth from the community take part in an 8-week free training course where they learn basic ICT skills and training to set up small businesses. So far, over 2000 youth have been trained through this programme. It also provides training principals and teachers in ICT. Likewise, over 100 teachers have been trained on how to use ICT in the classroom. We just recently completed a six-week literacy programme for staff (drivers, cleaners, gardeners) and members of the community identified through our poverty programmes.

What advice would you have for other schools thinking of putting something similar into place?

The world is so big and problems are many. No one institute can cater to all the needs of the community. Any school can do what AUN is doing. We all need to be willing to learn from the experiences of others and willing to share our own. Everything is replicable. If we cannot eliminate poverty, literacy and environmental problems, at the very least we can reduce it and Universities and business schools play such a key role in this.

What’s next for the initiative?

We have several plans moving forward. We are looking at providing training and coaching of women entrepreneurs as they really have the potential to greatly contribute to the development of our communities. We are also looking into putting in place a programme to help commercialize local low cost innovations that often go unnoticed. We would also like to reach out more to small businesses in the community to identify problems that they have and work with teams of senior students to come up with possible solutions.

 

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Indigenous Business Examples from New Zealand and Australia

Gilimbaa: “Our History. Our Story. Our Future” Reconciliation Australia Animation from Gilimbaa.

As businesses become more and more engaged in sustainability around the world, we are presented with an increasing range of examples of active companies. However, when I speak with students and faculty, they say that they often hear about the same examples from the same international companies over and over again.

In an attempt to share some new best practice examples, and continuing with June’s focus on Indigenous programmes, I asked a handful of faculty members about their favourite classroom examples of local companies that were started by Indigenous entrepreneurs as well as companies working with Indigenous communities. To finish off our month focusing on Indigenous business, here are some examples from Australia and New Zealand.

Rebecca Harcourt, Programme Manager, Indigenous Business Education, University of New South Wales Business School, Australia

Gilimbaa fuses many of the riches and celebrations embedded within Indigenous knowledge-storytelling within contemporary cultural practices- with exemplary graphic design and communications to bring all this to the global stage, such as exemplified in Queensland in 2014 when world international leaders, including President Barak Obama, gathered here for the G20.

Inside Policy is a group of exceptional and experienced female entrepreneurs who create innovative approaches to provide solutions to complex problems.

The team at 33 Creative delivers media communications and various associated projects with excellence, vibrancy and self-determination. Their approach helps drive transformation to empower & improve many of the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Read more about Indigenous engagement at the University of New South Wales.

Barry Coates, Sustainability Programme Development, University of Auckland Business School, New Zealand

Ngai Tahu Holdings is an intergenerational and Aotearoa New Zealand-focused investor that operates as an investor, asset owner and active manager of enterprises. At its heart, Ngai Tahu is a values-based business that relies on its people and its partners to generate long-term returns while respecting its traditions and the principle of kaitiakitanga – stewardship of natural resources.

Miraka is a Māori-owned dairy company that reflects the cultural beliefs of its owners in the operations of its business. Miraka uses geothermal and sustainable energy to process milk from its local suppliers, with active programmes for composting and soil management, waste minimisation and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Luisa Lombardi, Senior Lecturer Accounting, and Barry Cooper, Associate Dean Industry Engagement and Partnership, Deakin University , Australia

First Nations Foundation is the only national Indigenous charity in Australia with a focus on financial wellbeing. Established in 2006 by a group of respected First Australian leaders, the Foundation focuses on assisting First Australians with money management, acting as a bridge between Indigenous people’s needs and the financial service industry as well as identifying and quantifying the financial needs and trends of First Nations people through research.

AIME (The Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience) is a dynamic educational program that is proven to support Indigenous students through high school and into university, employment or further education at the same rate as all Australian students.

Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative provides Aboriginal families living or in transit in Wathaurong’s traditional boundaries with assistance, increased and improved access to a range of culturally appropriate health, housing, education, employment and cultural services; contributes to improvements in community wellbeing; and builds the capacity of the community to control its own affairs and achieve self-determination.

Read more about about how Deakin is promoting accounting as a career choice with Indigenous students.

Debbie Roberts, University of Waikato, New Zealand

Stunnuz Clothing is a youthful streetwear fashion brand that is influenced by New Zealand culture. The business successes have been driven by passion for design, culture and youth. The journey of the business has opened many opportunities, national and internationally, and has a greater goal to further develop globally.

The Te Rau Aroha Omaio development project is a community owned and led enterprise that will bring to life the guiding principles of sustainable economic, environmental, social and cultural development through the systematic migration of 150 hectares of low-value maize growing into a truly sustainable enterprise linked to elite high-value food markets of the world.

The enterprise will aggregate together Maori owned traditional lands to create scale and use the world’s-best knowledge (including traditional knowledge), science and technology to integrate organic practices into the value chain and create more than 100 new full-time local jobs over five years.

Read more about University of Waikato’s work to contextualise the MBA with an Indigenous focus.

Mentoring a New Generation of Indigenous Leaders – Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience

AIME Annual Report.pdj.17.06.16.020 (1)

The Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) is a dynamic educational programme that supports Indigenous students through high school and into university, employment or further education. The goal is to increase high school graduation rates and university admission rates among Indigenous youth to bring them in line with the rates of all Australian students.
From 2015-16, 76 percent of AIME’s 533 Year 12 graduates transitioned to a university, employment or further education pathway. This exceeds the national non-Indigenous rate of 75 percent of 18-25 year-olds participating in post high-school education, training or employment, and the national Indigenous rate of 40 percent.

An independent evaluation by KPMG found that AIME contributed $38 million AUD to the Australian economy in 2012; that’s $7 in benefits generated for every $1 spent.
Business schools across Australia and their students are involved in the programme, including the University of Wollongong. I spoke with Brenden Newton, AIME Centre Manager at the University of Wollongong, and Steve Mitchell, an Indigenous Business Graduate and Mentor for AIME who is now working as Program Manager at AIME, about this successful initiative.
What is AIME and how did it come about?

Ten years ago, a young Indigenous student at the University of Sydney connected 25 Indigenous and non-Indigenous fellow students with 25 Indigenous high school students at Alexandria Park Community School. Little did they know that this would be the beginning of an organisation that has since connected more than 4864 Indigenous kids and 1923 university students across five states and territories in Australia. AIME is all about young people working with young people, and the kids responded.

AIME provides a structured educational programme for Indigenous kids to access throughout their high school experience. Students completing the programme are proven to finish school and transition through to university, training and employment at the same rate as every Australian child – effectively closing the gap in educational outcomes.

How does AIME work?

AIME has three delivery modes. First, the AIME Institute offers six different courses tailored for each specific high school year group, which provide launch pads for real life opportunities for the students to extend themselves through. For example, in the past, opportunities have included internships for artists, performance opportunities for musicians, ambassador programs and more. The content for the AIME Institute has been designed and developed by Indigenous young people since 2005 and is enhanced and improved each year thanks to input from our mentees and mentors. The delivery of the Institute modules is undertaken by trained Indigenous facilitators who are supported throughout the Institute program by AIME mentors, staff and a variety of special guests.

Second, the Tutor Squad programme features our trained university mentors who head out to local schools to provide free academic support for 15 sessions throughout Terms 2 and 3 of the high school year.

Thirdly, we offer one-on-one coaching, career support and post-school transition. We pride ourselves in getting to know the kids throughout their high school experience, so that when it comes to their senior years, we can provide the best possible advice, support and targeted opportunities for each Indigenous student to transition into university, employment or further training.

During the course of each of year, we work with our partners to source post-school opportunities for our mentees. We continue to stay formally connected to each mentee and provide mentoring support for the first 6 months of their university course, training or employment.

On the employment side of things, we have partnerships with some of Australia’s biggest employers who are committed to increasing Indigenous employment. Once we have wrapped up our six months of post-school support, we then offer mentees the chance to attend our Staff AIME Institute once a year for up to 5 years.  This gives them access to world-class learning and development from the likes of Google, Coke and the AIME Team.

We are currently in the process of developing our Alumni programme so AIME mentees and mentors can continue to support each other as a community throughout their lives.

How are business school students involved in AIME?

All across Australia, with every partner business school, each student has the opportunity to participate as a volunteer mentor with the programme. It is the individual business student’s decision to be involved. This is what makes the magic happen: people wanting to connect with other people to assist in a common cause.

Business school students can directly support the Year 12 students that we work with at AIME and share real life experiences of studying at university in the field of business. This firsthand knowledge is invaluable for AIME mentees as it’s coming from a person that they trust and admire. Priceless. Inspiring the next generation.

The non-Indigenous university students who participate in the programme have the opportunity to connect to Australia’s future leaders. They are gifted with a unique opportunity to engage hands-on with Indigenous Australia that provides focused leadership, communication and cultural training. AIME partners offer direct opportunities to AIME volunteers, as they perceive these graduates as people that they would like to employ.

In addition to this, the non-Indigenous participants gain a sense of community with the university. There is a select group of students who stand up and grab the opportunity to act as a mentor. These students become a part of a social network that is supportive on all levels. You could say that they even become a part of a wider family.

How has Wollongong been involved in this programme? 

The University of Wollongong (UOW) was the first university partner outside of the University of Sydney – where the program initially started in 2005. This partnership was formed in 2008 and has been a stronghold ever since. Wollongong was the start of AIME’s exponential growth. It could be said that if UOW and AIME were not a success, we may not be where we are today. The expansion to Wollongong gave AIME the belief and confidence that the model worked outside of Sydney to the point where we are now working across the nation with 18 university partners and 325 schools.

What is the experience like as a mentor?

My experiences (Stephen Mitchell) of connecting with young people and inspiring them to be the best possible people they can be was and always will be the highlight of my university degree. The one thing that I looked forward to every week at university was going to AIME. I would even go out on a limb and say that AIME is the reason that I was lucky enough to graduate university. It was the motivation for me to complete my education and be a positive role model for the Indigenous kids in schools. There were several times in my university degree that I wanted to quit and walk away, but I would always think of the kids that I mentored and what would that mean to them. I had to show them that if I could do it, so could they. As an Indigenous man, it is my duty to inspire the next generation to be great: to be better than those before us because the platform has been set for greatness!

I honestly believe that AIME mentors get more out of the programme than the mentees do. Being a mentor pushed me to be the best person I could possibly be and shaped me into the person that I am today. AIME gave me a purpose! It gave me a sense of community, a sense of family, a sense of belonging to something more than a university cohort. My involvement with the programme has connected me with everyday people who are inspiring, encouraging and thought provoking.

What’s next?

Our mission and purpose is to reach 10,000 kids a year by 2018 and to see that every one of those kids transitions through to university, employment or further training at the same rate as other Australian children.

The 2018 goals for the organisation are:

  • Reach 10,000 kids & 3,000 mentors nationally
  • Be the best place to work in Australia
  • Have a proven impact
  • Build a robust and sustainable funding model
  • Be one of Australia’s coolest and most recognisable brands

AIME strengthens links between universities and high schools. We work to support teachers and parents to become more optimistic about tertiary education as a real option for their Indigenous students. At AIME, we help Australians to see Indigenous Australia as an opportunity, not an obligation. It is about giving everyday Australians the chance to have a meaningful connection with Indigenous Australia and build the idea that Indigenous can mean success.

How can business schools support Indigenous students?

Start by building positive relationships with the students; everything starts with relationships. I would suggest having a conversation with students and discussing their dreams and aspirations. Show an interest in the person, rather than the student. AIME has been built off the back of positive relationships: people working together for a common goal.

As a former business school graduate, one of the best parts of my degree, other than AIME, was being a part of a mentoring programme within the school. This was an informal mentoring programme where I was connected with a senior academics and often had the chance for informal and formal catch-ups. To this day, I still have a positive relationship with my mentor and still go to them for advice, even though I have graduated.

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