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MBA courses make a difference in Africa

News + Events : MBA courses make a difference in Africa

08/16/2010

The skills Khary Dvorak-Ewell has picked up in MBA classes at SF State are now paying dividends in Africa.

A photo of Khary Dvorak-Ewell.

Khary Dvorak-Ewell

In early August, Dvorak-Ewell traveled to Tanzania and Kenya with Mama Hope, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that works with local communities in Third World countries to complete micro-development projects. Dvorak-Ewell has volunteered with the organization as development director while working toward his MBA.

Dvorak-Ewell used his classes to help the organization grow. For his MGMT 863 Social Entrepreneurship class with Professor of Family and Consumer Sciences Connie Ulasewicz, he wrote a business plan for Mama Hope that articulated the group's business strategy and mission. While writing the plan, Dvorak-Ewell tackled challenges faced by many nonprofits.

"The biggest challenge is how to make things concrete, and not just this concept of helping people," he said. "Then we had to look at the projects we do and understand not just the results, but what impact the projects have. How many people will benefit? Will it create jobs? Can we hire local people? We did that through the business plan."

Ulasewicz said Dvorak-Ewell demanded much from himself, and directly applied his classwork to his work with Mama Hope. "The class gives people the ability to understand how they can do business, and give back at the same time," she said. "Everything he turned in had additional value for him, his life, and his work with Mama Hope."

Mama Hope continued to come up in Dvorak-Ewell's classes. In a Sustainability and Business Opportunities class with Assistant Professor of Management Peter Melhus, Dvorak-Ewell examined how to use business to help those in impoverished countries.

"I definitely wanted a solid MBA, but I wanted an additional focus working with developing economies," Dvorak-Ewell said. "In my classes, I was able to learn how to focus and develop a plan for them. The classes were very similar to what I wanted to go on to do."

This month, Dvorak-Ewell will be able to see the fruits of his work. Members of Mama Hope will visit a school in Moshi, Tanzania, that the organization helped build. More than 440 local workers were employed to build the school, which will serve 300 students once it opens. Dvorak-Ewell plans to continue working with Mama Hope after completing his MBA in December.

Ulasewicz said Dvorak-Ewell's mix of business acumen and caring personality will serve him well in the future.

"He did not want to graduate with a traditional MBA without giving back," Ulasewicz said. "The social entrepreneurship piece was so important that he made that work in the program."

To follow Dvorak-Ewell's trip, visit: http://kharyde.wordpress.com/

-- Michael Bruntz


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