12 Visuals to get inspired by for your next SIP report (Part 1 of 2)

Sharing Information on Progress (SIP) reports, beyond being a requirement for PRME signatories, are an opportunity to bring together the work a school is doing in the area of responsible management education, reflect on that work and explore future opportunities. SIPs can provide an important communication tool to raise awareness both internally and externally about your initiatives. Using visuals in your report is one way to bring the information contained within your report to life, to make it easier for your stakeholders to navigate, understand, engage in, and to take action on. To inspire your next SIP report, here are 12 visuals (in two parts) taken from recent SIP reports. These examples are intended to be an exploration of the different approaches taken from different schools. For more examples you can browse through all of the SIP reports on the PRME website.

 

Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria in Canada has been working steadily to measure and reduce its carbon footprint. Over the past few years they have put in place new systems for data collection to ensure more accurate measurements for the various sources of emissions related to the school’s operations. They publish an annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions report for Gustavson, prepared by Synergy Enterprises, one of many sustainability-oriented companies founded by former University of Victoria students.

Gordon Institute of Business Science in South Africa has a series of illustrations created to capture the school’s ongoing commitment to the principles of PRME. The first explores GIBS’s engagement through its people, the second its impact on its community and globally and the third innovation that it is fostering.

 

The MBA office at Reykjavik University Business School in Iceland interviewed all teachers in the MBA programme in order to map the extent to which a focus on ethics was built into each course. This showed that nine courses out of twelve have CSR or business ethics elements in them. Of the nine, three put a great deal of emphasis on the subject as can be seen in the syllabus mapping.

Copenhagen Business School in Denmark provides a snapshot of different sustainability related research projects. They also include a picture, the name and contact details for those responsible for each project, making it easy to find out where you can find out more information about their projects, whether you are a member of the community or not.

 

Material issues for KU Leuven Faculty of Economics and Business in Belgium are displayed in the materiality matrix. These issues are categorized based on their ascending relevance to stakeholders (based on engagement activities) and the organization (based on the school’s vision, mission, values, and strategy). The most material sustainability issues are education and research that address sustainability topics, as well as the promotion of diversity/non-discrimination with an emphasis on gender equality.

 


Hanken School of Economics
in Finland uses tables such as this one throughout their report to outline goals from previous reports, progress made on those goals and to lay out future goals. Here they also address any delays or challenges to reaching set goals.

The Sustainable Development Goals – A List of Resources


On 25 September 2015, all 193 member states of the United Nations adopted a plan for a path to achieve a better future for all, to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and protect the planet. A set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 related targets were presented that address the most important economic, social, environmental and governance challenges, and that will help guide national priorities over the next 15 years.

Business schools play a role in the successful implementation of the SDGs. Here are 6 ways they can do so with links to various resources to help.

  1. Learn more about the SDGs themselves: The Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform provides information about not only each goal, but all of the individual targets related to each goal. The site provides multiple resources as well as links to individual organisations around the world focused on working to reach the individual goals (a good source of possible partnerships and projects) and how the nine major stakeholder groups are engaging in the SDGs. There is even an app for the SDGs that can be downloaded for free. GOWI provides a range of free online courses around the Sustainable Development Goals delivered via email that take 2-5 minutes to read. To get more in to depth take a look at the growing number of MOOC on the topic.
  1. Integrate the SDGs into teaching. There are a wide range of videos (the Global Goals have their own YouTube channel) as well as several online games, platforms and apps to engage in the different issues. World’s Largest Lesson offers lesson plans around the different goals which, although aimed at a younger audience, provides some good resources and ideas. Connect research on sustainability in economics, finance, and management among bachelor, master and PhD students through the oikos-PRME Research Hub. There are also a growing number of examples of how to integrate the SDGs into business school courses and how to get students more engaged.
  1. Explore what management education’s role is in the SDGs: The PRME Secretariat has released a toolkit, Management Education and the Sustainable Development Goals, exploring why signatories should engage in the SDGs and how they can do so. This includes aligning curriculum and research with the SDGs, seeing more applied research, acting as leaders of public opinion and connecting and collaborating regionally and internationally. Other articles exploring how schools can get involved include a summary of a panel discussion about the role of Management Education in the SDGs, Management Education and the Sustainable Development Goals – Get Engaged published by AACSB and The Sustainable Development Goals and Management Education – an Overview and Update. For some inspiration as to how business schools are already engaging in the SDGs read Primetime posts or look through this list of 100 examples.
  1. Explore what business’s roles are in the SDGs: The SDG Campus The Guide for Business action on the SDGs assists companies in aligning their strategies with the SDGs . The UN Global Compact also has a website which outlines how companies can advance each of the SDGs with links to additional business resources for each SDG. The Global Compact is currently working on a number of action platforms which will focus on different SDGs which are likely to produce additional resources through the coming year. AIM2Flourish provides a database of short case studies, written by students, on businesses engaged in sustainability and the SDGs and several businesses themselves have created SDG related toolkits.
  1. Explore new and strengthen existing partnerships with business: Partnerships isn’t just Goal 17 of the SDGs, it is a crucial part of all SDGs. The UN Global Compact and PRME offer a range of documents focused on how business and business schools can collaborate to co-create solutions for sustainability challenges, win-win partnerships that can yield fresh and innovative ideas. Partners with Business Schools to Advance Sustainability toolkit provides case studies and tips and the following blog posts also focus on developing partnerships with business:
  1. Audit and report on what is already happening across your campus and programmes: Take a look at what is already happening on campus and how you can link these activities to the SDGs. Use your SIP as an opportunity to take stock of which SDGs you are already engaged in and which you need to be moving forward with by reporting on progress and future goals. Some recently submitted reports have already started to report on SDGs or explore how students feel companies are doing reporting their own initiatives with Wikirate.

 

What resources have you developed to raise awareness about the SDGs in your school?

How the Social Impact Festival at University of Western Australia Supports Global and Local Progress

img_7254-smlThe Sustainable Development Goals help us consider everything – from one person, to the university, to our cities – in a global context. They provide a robust yet accessible framework for learning about global progress. This is the focus of the work being done at the Centre for Social Impact at the University of Western Australia. Among their many programmes is their annual Social Impact Festival, an opportunity to bring together individuals and organisations who are deeply committed to making Western Australia a better place.

I spoke with Claire Stokes from the Centre for Social Impact at the University of Western Australia about this increasingly successful event.

What is the Social Impact Festival?

The Centre for Social Impact at The University of Western Australia (UWA) hosted the first Social Impact Festival in May 2015 – we call this ‘prototype 1’. It saw over 1,000 people attending events on the UWA Crawley campus focused on furthering social impact. When 2016 began, the team at the Centre for Social Impact UWA decided to take the festival into ‘prototype 2’ in July 2016. Katie Stubley (the other co-director) and myself started with a purpose and designed the event to fulfill that purpose. This included three primary aims: share and diffuse cutting-edge knowledge; strengthen and connect social impact networks; and increase our capacity to make WA better for all. We also identified many people, ideas, organisations and networks that have been deeply committed to making WA a more just, vibrant and better place for all. So a key element of the festival was bringing stories of social impact in WA to the surface to be celebrated and amplified.

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

The concept of ‘social impact’ is so broad that we knew a regular conference format would not work. To see real change, we knew we had to reach audiences beyond those who had previously engaged with the Centre and in a variety of settings. The format was based roughly on a ‘fringe festival’: a diverse range of small, low-cost, and engaging events in a variety of venues so attendees could ‘create their own adventure’.

We turned to our postgraduate course – the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact – for a framework which gave us the following themes for the four key days of the festival:

  • Creating social impact: entrepreneurship, innovation & design
  • Demonstrating social impact: research, measurement & evaluation
  • Funding social impact: investment, philanthropy & ethical consumerism
  • Leading social impact: organisation, collaboration & systems

As a whole, the festival featured 34 events over 7 days in 16 venues around Perth. Individual event prices ranged from $0 to $30 and 15 events were free. More than 150 people and organisations contributed to the festival programme (including speakers, workshop facilitators, co-working space hosts, artists, performers, open house venues, and market stall-holders). Through the interactive ‘Stories from the Field’ events (21, 22, 26 & 27 July), 68 individual stories of social impact were shared. Twenty local ethical businesses featured in the Marketplace & Ethical Fashion Show (23 July), and 10 spaces and organisations featured on Social Impact Open House day (25 July).

What are/were your favourite parts of the festival?

Pitching events are always interesting, as they provide opportunities for real people and organisations to take action, as well as the chance to learn about investing and the local landscape. The Impact Seed Pitch Night on 26 July was no exception. Run by a new Perth-based organisation, Impact Seed, the event saw five investable social businesses pitch for investment to a packed auditorium of 120 people. It also featured a highly engaging keynote address from Bessi Graham (The Difference Incubator, Melbourne). Graham also sat on the judging panel with Paul Flatau (Centre for Social Impact UWA), Derek Gerrard (Innovation Bay), and Paul Bide (School for Social Entrepreneurs).

Two other standout events were the Festival Opening and Marketplace & Ethical Fashion Show. The Opening was a directed performance, mixing inspiring speech from Michael Chaney, Cassandra Goldie and Noel Nannup together with music, poetry, song and dance. The Marketplace & Ethical Fashion show held an atmostphere that was absolutely perfect for what we were trying to achieve. There was a modest amount of stalls – 20 in total – but every single person involved demonstrated deep passion and commitment to their cause. This also extended to an excitement in celebrating and helping each other on the day. Businesses represented included social enterprises, fair trade homewares, organic kombucha and tea, eco-garden services, ethical fashion, Aboriginal enterprises, and more. An estimated 300+ people attended the event and all stallholders reported they sold more than expected.

Although not an event, the ongoing co-working and collaboration space was another highlight. This provided ample opportunity for attendees of events throughout the festival to come early or stay afterwards to simply work, or meet other like-minded people and make new connections. The hosts of this space, Perth-based social innovators enkel, also ensured users of the space made the most of it by engaging with interesting activities such as mindfulness, story-telling, and more.

What impact does the festival aim to have/ already have?

We have already observed and heard about the immediate impact of the Festival. For instance, as one of the key aims was connecting people across sectors we were delighted to hear that almost 70% of attendees said they made new connections they intend to follow up with (or already have). That does not even take into account the connections made across the 150 contributors. We have also heard of some changes, or actions taken based on transformative experiences. For example, 26% of attendees to seek out formal education or training in fields linked to social impact. One person reported they have already chaired a board meeting and presented information from the Festival, leading the Board to review the organisation’s mission, objectives, strategies and how we can better measure our social impact.

Anecdotally, we have heard of many new connections and collaborations around Perth that resulted from the Festival, while other connections have strengthened or formalised. This is exactly the kind of impact we intended to create.

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

Design with a purpose. That was the single-most important aspect of the festival and it resulted in an event that was not only successful in terms of numbers and engagement, but in the immediate impact it had, leaving everyone involved with the optimism and drive to create positive change.

What’s next?

We are synthesizing the huge amount of information that was drawn out during the festival – in the form of stories, ideas, presentations and feedback. Many of the resources presented or created throughout the festival can be found here: http://www.socialimpactfestival.org/resources/

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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.

Contextualising the MBA with an Indigenous Focus – University of Waikato New Zealand

Waikato graduation

The Waikato-Tainui MBA from the University of Waikato Management School, delivered in partnership with the Waikato-Tainui College for Research and Development, aims to foster Māori values and Indigenous ways of doing business. Unlike other MBAs, the Waikato-Tainui MBA has been contextualised with an Indigenous focus within a supportive Māori environment at the College’s premises in Hopuhopu. It allows participants to explore real world business challenges that involve and are relevant to Indigenous business and industry. I spoke with Ed Weymes, Pro Vice Chancellor International of the University, about its innovative and award winning programme.

What role do Indigenous students/leaders/business currently play at Waikato?

The University of Waikato stands out from other universities because it embraces its strong Māori identity and heritage as key features of its distinctiveness. The Māori student and staff communities on campus are vibrant and welcoming, and there are many university programmes and activities that are dedicated to Māori student achievement and success. This is set to remain a high priority through the years ahead.

What is the Waikato-Tainui MBA and why did it come about?

Since 2011, we have delivered the Waikato-Tainui MBA in partnership with the Waikato-Tainui College for Research and Development. The driver for the development of this programme has been the aspiration for a greater number of Māori leaders well prepared to grapple with the challenges of global business. These future Māori leaders (participants) come from various iwi (tribal) organisations engaged in major commercial programmes as well as Māori-operated education, health and social service facilities in addition to small to medium sized businesses. The Waikato-Tainui MBA is based on the traditional campus-based Waikato MBA, delivered from the College’s Hopuhopu premises, and has been enhanced for relevance to Indigenous Māori. It has Māori teaching faculty, contextualised Māori content and primarily uses Māori case studies.

This programme prepares future Māori leaders to lead in an environment of complexity while preserving their unique culture and values. It has several key objectives:

  • To develop inspirational Māori leaders for the private and public sectors who are able to lead value creation and sustainable practices within their organisations;
  • To foster Indigenous ways of doing business that focus on collective benefit rather than individual benefit;
  • To facilitate a waananga (living and learning) environment that fosters cultural values;
  • To facilitate participants working collaboratively with each other and with Māori businesses; and
  • To meet the academic and professional requirements of the Waikato MBA.

What makes this programme unique?

The uniqueness of this programme is its mode of delivery. It is delivered in ‘waananga,’ or residential mode, from the College’s premises in a rich cultural environment that provides a holistic and collaborative atmosphere for participants, which is conducive to the way Māori learn. Participants meet every second weekendon Friday afternoons and Saturdays, similar to many other MBA programmes. However, in addition, whaanau (family) of the participants are invited to attend a number of events during the programme, allowing friendly and collective whaanau interaction.

A feature of this MBA is the International MBA Study Tour. Past international MBA study tours have seen participants travel to North America to nurture Waikato-Tainui tribal links with other Indigenous nations (e.g., Native American tribes) as well as to Asia to nurture closer ties with their Indigenous businesses and global economic communities. The study tour provides participants with global insights into doing business offshore within an Indigenous context.

Our faculty members are complemented by prominent guest speakers who provide the Indigenous context. Participants are also supported by a strong network of Māori MBA alumni, who are mentors for the programme, ensuring the distinctive Indigenous perspective is reinforced. All participants have access to a network of mentors who are MBA alumnus, ensuring the distinctive Māori/Indigenous perspective of this programme is aligned to the outcomes of the Waikato-Tainui MBA.

What have been some of the challenges? 

Contextualising the programme has been an evolutionary process. Initially, contextualisation within the Waikato-Tainui MBA was limited to the waananga style learning with guest presenters. Contextualisation was provided by using Māori case studies and guest presenters provided real life examples of how the various functions of management worked from a Māori World View, but it was more of an overlay, rather than embedded from the outside in. We were upfront about this with the initial cohort of participants, as we believed contextualisation was something that would evolve through delivery over subsequent intakes. We now have a number of papers that have been designed specifically for this programme, like, International Indigenous Business and Governance, Sustainability and Indigenous Business Development, for example. The aim is to have a programme that is fully contextualised with Māori and Indigenous frameworks and approaches embedded throughout delivery and curriculum.

Another challenge has been working through the funding of the waananga style of learning. It is more expensive than the traditional delivery mode, so how this is funded has been an ongoing challenge. We have also had challenges finding enough Māori academics to deliver the programme and have had to recruit academics and practitioners who can bring a Māori or Indigenous perspective from across New Zealand and Internationally.

What about successes? 

Many Waikato-Tainui MBA alumni are in highly powerful Indigenous, corporate and government roles. Promoted either during or after completing their qualification, they act as positive role models for Māori generally and lift the credibility of the brand of Māori business.

In 2011, the Waikato-Tainui MBA won the inaugural Association of MBA Innovation Award for developing a programme with a vision to bring Māori people, New Zealand, and the world together in order to support and advance Māori and Indigenous aspirations at local, national and international levels

How can business schools integrate Māori business topics and issues into their programmes? Why should they?

The relationships between the Māori and Pakeha (New Zealand European settlers) is now one with both cultures residing in harmony. However, the Pakeha culture is very “western,” vested in our Greek forefathers, while the Māori culture is more “Eastern,” with similarities to Confucianism and Dao. Both cultures respect the other and it is important that business achools and educational institutions ensure that their curriculum provides participants with an understanding of the differences.

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Supporting Female Entrepreneurs in Lebanon – American University of Beirut

IMG_7893Increasingly, women around the world are starting businesses, but the numbers are still low. Female entrepreneurs face unique challenges when trying to start a business; they are less likely than their male counterparts to receive funding, discover crucial mentors, and find the necessary confidence and time while balancing work and life. In the MENA region in particular, total women entrepreneurship activity is as low as 4%, with an average business lifespan of 10 years.

The American University of Beirut in Lebanon has successfully paired up with Citi to provide crucial support and mentoring for female entrepreneurs in Lebanon and the MENA region with the goal of increasing their numbers significantly. I spoke with Dr. Dima Jamali, Kamal Shair Endowed Chair in Leadership, and Ms Fida Kanaan, Director of Executive Education the Olayan School of Business about this initiative.

What is the Citi OSB Women Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEP)?

Women constitute more than half of the Lebanese population and their contribution to the entrepreneurship arena has direct implications for Lebanon’s economic development. Yet in the MENA region, total women entrepreneurship activity is as low as 4%, with an average business lifespan of 10 years. The Citi OSB Women Entrepreneurship Initiative aims to fill the women entrepreneurship business education gap by supporting female entrepreneurs in formalizing their businesses and entering new markets while assuring their company’s sustainable growth. It was designed to cover both gender-related core concepts and key strategies of growing the entrepreneurial firm.

Why did you start the initiative?

The Citi OSB Women Entrepreneurship Initiative was initiated from a keen interest by the OSB Executive Education programme? to extend its services not only to larger organizations, but also to start ups and, more specifically, to women entrepreneurs looking to expand and grow their businesses but struggling with the low support provided by the ecosystem. This intent was matched with a grant by Citi Foundation, which came in support of Women Entrepreneurs. OSB pulled from its different resources focused on gender, entrepreneurship and CSR and ran a focus group session with stakeholders from the ecosystem to identify the underserved segment and understand its needs. The programme stemmed from this session.

What happens during the programme?

Programme features include:

  • Direct application of concepts learned through opportunities to apply knowledge
  • Bridging women entrepreneurs with networks of organizations supporting women and entrepreneurs in the region
  • Connecting participants to other active stakeholders supporting women entrepreneurs (during and after the programs)
  • A clinic-like post-program follow-up one year after the programme

Programme graduates are also invited to all CSR, Gender and Entrepreneurship-related activities organized by AUB OSB.

What have been some of challenges?

Initiatives like WEP cannot be self-financed, hence their sustainability depends on available funding. The school is looking to generate new revenue streams to support future programs like the WEP. Additionally, local SMEs are finding it difficult to thrive in the current economic environment. Unfortunately, 2 out of the 24 participating companies closed their doors in the past year due to this.

What have been some of successes of the programme?

The programme, as well as our partnership with Citi, has been quite successful. In the follow up done a year after the program was completed, we discovered that many participant’s business models had undergone a pivotal change due to what they learned during the programme. Many also moved to new markets and expanded their portfolio. Two of our participants were featured in Jordanian Venture Magazine as leading Lebanon’s start up scene. Many of the entrepreneurs also collaborated on projects and provided mentoring and support to each other’s businesses.

Two of the women participants were selected for the 2015 Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women-U.S. Department of State Entrepreneurship Program for Women, in which they completed a program at Harvard and the U.S. State Department. Additionally, two participants were finalists in the World Bank Women for Resilient Cities Entrepreneurship Award and Abillama Eco-Entrepreneurship Award. More than half of the participants’ companies now belong to mentoring/women networks, such as the Blessing Foundation and the Lebanese League of Women in Business

What advice do you have for schools exploring similar ideas?

Entrepreneurship education needs to assure application-focused concepts and tools. It also needs to address the challenges of the targeted companies based not only on their organizational maturity, but also their business contexts. Understanding their business maturity stage and unique challenges is critical for designing and delivering a program with impact.  We are looking for further funds to finance this initiative’s next round and plan to infuse the next round with modules focused on responsible leadership, business social responsibility, subjects related to women in business, HR strategies and value propositions in support of women’s needs in business.

Are there other initiatives you are working on that you would like to share?

We have an on-going initiative on gender and sexuality, entitled the Knowledge Is Power (KIP) Programme and led by Dr. Charlotte Karam.  KIP is focused on examining issues relating to gender and sexuality with the aim of positively contributing to the empowerment of women and other marginalized groups. The project is research-oriented, seeking proposals that focus on either gathering data/information or generating knowledge relating to the following five thematic areas:

    • Sexual harassment and other forms of abusive behaviors or discrimination disproportionately targeting women and other marginalized groups at work, at school, in universities, and in other traditional or nontraditional structures in Lebanon
    • Barriers and facilitators affecting participation and representation of women and other marginalized groups at work, in government, in management and leadership as well as in other decision making roles in traditional or nontraditional structures in Lebanon
    • The current health and wellbeing practices and perceptions around gender and sexuality in Lebanon
    • The next generation: the perceptions, attitudes and current practices of youth and young adults in relation to gender equality and sexuality in Lebanon
    • Conceptual etymology and legal genealogy of gender, sexuality, and bodily rights in Lebanon

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A Free University for All Citizens – HEM in Morocco


Nineteen years ago, HEM (Institute of Higher Education of Management) in Morocco launched a unique concept called “Université Citoyenne,®” roughly translated in English as “Free University for all citizens.” The idea came from the oldest university in the history of the world, the University of AlKaraween in Fès/Morocco, which was established by a woman named Fatima Al-Fahria more than a thousand years ago. This University, now taken up by HEM Foundation, aimed to provide a space where people from all walks of life could meet to attend seminars by prominent scholars. I spoke with Dr. Ali Elquammah, Co-Director of Academic Affairs & International Relations HEM, about this initiative.

What is Université Citoyenne® and how did it come about?

“Université Citoyenne®” consists of a series of seminars, open to all, without prerequisites, which are designed as introductory courses and awareness sessions about sociopolitical, managerial and economic issues in Morocco. The series, which spans over three months, is provided free of charge once a year, simultaneously in six cities where HEM BS has a campus: Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakech, Tanger, Fès and Oujda.

What are the key features of the program?

A seminar is organized each week for three months in each HEM campuses simultaneously. Each seminar is run by a subject matter expert and a moderator. Each year they are organized around three distinct themes:

  • Institutions, Political Life and Human Rights
  • Thought and Society
  • Economy and Business Management

The themes are determined by a strategic committee. Each campus proposes several topics to the committee for validation at the beginning of the year. The topics to be discussed need to be of current interest, relevant to the context and likely to initiate a critical debate.

An “Auditor’s Certificate” is given to individuals who attended at least 80% of the seminars. Individuals interested in participating can register on the HEM website.

Why have the Universite Citoyenne?

Université Citoyenne® falls within HEM policy to develop and share knowledge.

The main benefit of this concept is free education for all and democratizing the access to information, since Université Citoyenne® provides these seminars free of charge and requires no pre-requisites from its participants. These seminars also aim to enrich the spirit of openness, encourage debate and develop an active citizenship culture in an emerging market such as Morocco.

What have been a few of the most memorable moments of the Université Citoyenne® over the years in your opinion?

We’ve put together a short video that traces back some of the memorable moments. Click here.

What have been some of the challenges of putting this together? 

The logistical process of this program is very challenging because there are many stakeholders in the equation. HEM’s material and human resources are dedicated to the Université Citoyenne® in parallel with the school’s everyday activities. The planning of this concept has to start months ahead of the official kick-off; everything to be set in place in terms of speakers’ approvals and confirmations. However, since we have been doing this for the past 19 years, logistical planning has become easier in time.

What have been some successes? 

Over the past 19 years, more than 510 seminars were organized within Université Citoyenne® in which there were 28,000 registered participants and more than 4,500 Auditor’s Certificates awarded.

Université Citoyenne® has become a large project that we are very proud of. Every year we register an increasing number of participants and welcome more and more high profile experts who are willing to take part in this beautiful project.

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

To put such a project into place, it has to come from the heart; the love of education is and will always remain at the core of the school’s state of mind. At HEM Business School, our slogan is «”We Love Education.” For other schools thinking of putting something similar into place, a fair amount of the school’s human resources should be mobilized for the project to be a success.

What is next for Universite Citoyenne®?

As an extension of Université Citoyenne®, we came up with « les Clubs de Lecture de l’Université Citoyenne® » (translated in English as « Reading clubs of Université Citoyenne® » ), which aims to facilitate access to literature and reading to a diverse public and share knowledge, ideas and questions around social issues in Morocco with them. Reading Clubs of Université Citoyenne® are held in meetings with four authors per year (alternately in Arabic and French).

Also within the framework of Université Citoyenne®, a collection of books called « Les Presses de l’Université Citoyenne® » has been developed to open the academic space to a wide audience of non-specialists and to contribute to the dissemination of the culture of debate and critical thinking. The books of « Presses de l’Université Citoyenne®» appear every 18 months. The first book of « Presses de l’Université Citoyenne,® » called « Le métier d’intellectuel, » or the job of the intellectual, won the 22nd edition of the « Prix Grand Atlas » prize in the Francophone Essays category in November 2015. The second book just came out and it is called “the tissue of your singularities – Living together in Morocco” It is a tribute to Mrs. Fatema El Mernissi, a famous Moroccan sociologist who recently passed away.

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