Thursday, July 26, 2007



A news article[v] from the super-reformer Republic of Georgia[vi] echoes these concerns. After listing grievances of the challenges of the informal sector and that banks have chosen to lend to bigger, more reliable businesses, a Credit Access Manager with the SME Support Project in Georgia notes the challenges faced by SME owners:

"Most keep financial accounts in notebooks. Sometimes they look quite funny, they just write: 'I sold this item and bought that item.' They lack systemization as a rule."

The severity of this problem in Africa is reflected by a simple statistic: while India has over 1,000 business schools and the U.S. has about 1,200, Africa has under 50. The consequences of such a discrepancy cannot always be observed in the short-term, but the development world cannot underestimate the importance of formal business education. The Association of African Business Schools[vii] (AABS), organized by the International Finance Corporation's Global Business School Network, is a quiet but crucial voice in a sector where passions thrive on shirtsleeves and megaphones. The AABS member schools collaborate to improve the standards and increase accreditation of business schools in Africa. Right now, only one school, the University of Cape Town in South Africa, ranks within the Top 100 Business Schools on the 2007 Financial Times Global MBA[viii] Index.

But more entrepreneurial Africans in the middle and lower-middle classes should also have the opportunity to attend decent business schools close to home, preventing brain drain and catalyzing larger-scale local business development. As the AABS addresses the quality of business schools, private donors can look to increase the quantity of these schools. Organizations such as the Skoll Foundation, Gates Foundation, and other private sector donors have continued to demonstrate their desire to engage in more intelligent and active philanthropy....

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