Studying an MBA in South Africa can help aspiring entrepreneurs learn how to lead in complex markets and advance their business growth.
This is certainly the case for Alforde Charumbira, born in Zimbabwe. He was inspired to pursue a purposeful career that could positively impact underprivileged communities. To do this, he left his role as CFO and embarked on an entrepreneurial journey – and hasn’t looked back since.
“I really wanted to focus on finding solutions to the problems that were plaguing some of the communities that I could identify with, having grown up in them,” Alforde says.
To achieve this goal, he founded Utando Social Impact Solutions with his former MBA classmate and now wife. Their mission is to promote responsible capitalism. Utando works with businesses – in South Africa and the United States – to find solutions to pressing issues such as climate change and carbon emissions, and ensure that having a positive impact on communities is a point of focus. fundamental departure for businesses.
However, it hasn’t been a smooth road for Alforde to get his business to where it is today. It took dedication to develop his skills and familiarize himself with the complexities of doing business in South Africa and emerging markets.
Growing a business while studying an MBA
As an entrepreneur, walking away from your business to study full-time is not an option. Still, if you want to stay ahead of the competition and develop your leadership skills, business school can give you an edge.
This is why Alforde launched into the Modular MBA at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB). By enrolling in the MBA, Alforde was running his first business and learning what it took to become a successful entrepreneur.
The GSB Modular MBA is a two-year, part-time program. The program has a flexible hybrid format in which students take classes in Cape Town twice a year but can otherwise choose to study online.
Alforde was attracted to the UCT GSB Modular MBA because of its focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. The program provides business leaders with a unique yet globally relevant perspective for doing business in African, emerging and developing markets.
“I saw the program as a good bridge between Africa and the world, which appealed to me as an entrepreneur. I also saw it as an opportunity to meet and learn from like-minded business people and entrepreneurs,” says Alforde.
Alforde connected with other entrepreneurs through the UCT GSB Solution Space, an incubator for early-stage startups in South Africa.
“Studying the MBA as an entrepreneur allowed me to immediately apply the MBA lessons in my business by testing new ideas and understanding what works and what doesn’t. I could talk to my peers and professors about the problems I was facing and the best way to solve them,” he says.
Alforde uses his learnings to ensure that Utando Social Impact Solutions and its clients meet the distinct challenges of different global markets. As part of a project, Utando engaged with communities in Guatemala, South America. She worked with the government and a pharmaceutical company to build a stronger health infrastructure.
“Seeing the impact this project has had within the community, especially for women who previously had no access to maternal and reproductive care, definitely left a lasting impression on me,” says Alforde.
Develop entrepreneurial leadership skills
In today’s business world, entrepreneurs must constantly adapt and hone their skills to keep up with new trends and global challenges.
Entrepreneurs on the UCT GSB Modular MBA can choose specializations such as Innovation and Entrepreneurship or Leadership and Change, to hone their skills in the key areas they need to progress to ensure their business grows.
“As an entrepreneur, you face complex problems every day and there is no set solution to these problems. So the MBA for me was about developing the critical thinking and problem-solving skills to approach these challenges with confidence,” says Alforde.
However, becoming a strong leader is about more than the skills you learn. The UCT GSB Modular MBA also focuses on personal development by familiarizing students with leadership theory and encouraging them to think about the type of leader they want to be.
“The leadership course was one of my greatest lessons from the MBA. It made us ask questions about our own leadership style and how our experiences influence how we present ourselves as a leader,” says Alforde.
Coming from a corporate career, studying an MBA in South Africa helped Alforde learn how to adapt his leadership style to a career with social impact. Today, he works closely with global companies to help them tackle some of the world’s most pressing crises and transform communities.
“The MBA allowed me to lead in a way I had never experienced before,” he says.
Making an impact as an entrepreneur via an MBA in South Africa
Driven by his own experiences and education, Alforde’s entrepreneurial journey has always had a clear mission of social impact, both for the planet and for people.
“Business doesn’t exist without community, which is why entrepreneurs must focus on creating social impact,” he believes.
Studying the MBA at UCT GSB allowed Alforde to gain an understanding of more complex markets in a business context and turn his ambition into a business model that could deliver real change.
Utando Social Impact Solutions has innovated a tool that allows companies to bring together different aspects of operations, marketing and finance to predict environmental and financial outcomes if they do not integrate environmental, social and governance considerations into their core strategy .
The company has also had a profound impact on disadvantaged communities. One of the largest and most rewarding projects Alforde worked on with Utando was employing people from zero-income households in entry-level positions within companies to enable them to upskill and develop their skills. provide for the needs of their family.
“Almost immediately, we saw a difference in families and communities because of the presence of role models. Additionally, families could afford health care and education, leading to reduced crime, etc. “, explains Alforde.
Already armed with passion and a vision for change, the MBA was the catalyst that allowed Alforde to turn his entrepreneurial dreams into reality and make a lasting difference in communities around the world.