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Zoomin’ to Nepal through the Ivey LEADER Project

  • Caitlin Wong
  • |
  • Jul 20, 2022
Zoomin’ to Nepal through the Ivey LEADER Project

Zoom photo of the last full day of class, April 28, 2022

The LEADER Project provides current and aspiring entrepreneurs with the analytical tools, thought processes, and decision-making skills to tackle complex business challenges. LEADER instructors (Ivey HBA and MBA students and alumni) deliver a two-week intensive program of cases, lectures, and coaching. LEADER is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2022. As part of the celebration, Caitlin Wong, HBA ’23 candidate, wrote about her experience teaching virtually in Nepal. 

Early mornings, diligent prep work, and lots of learning! These aspects became part of my daily experience during the last two weeks of April while teaching Ivey’s LEADER program virtually in Nepal along with fellow HBA students Alina Ramji, Prapthi Agarwala, and Claire Liu, and MBA student Avi Sarkar.

In partnership with the Nepalese Young Entrepreneurs’ Forum (NYEF), we delivered the LEADER program to 20 Nepalese business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs over Zoom – covering topics such as Strategy, Marketing, Finance, and Entrepreneurship using the Ivey case method. 

Ivey's influence

One of my core motivations to join The LEADER Project upon entering HBA1 was that I felt privileged and lucky to be receiving an education from one of the top business schools in Canada. As a byproduct, this has enabled me and my peers to be exposed to a plethora of professional opportunities to pursue business or entrepreneurial endeavours. LEADER’s mission, to empower entrepreneurs through education and promote economic prosperity in developing nations, really resonated with me. Not only should we be using our Ivey education to further our own professional goals, but I feel I have a responsibility to use my education to make a positive social impact in the world.

Specifically, I found it super interesting how we were able to teach a few cases, such as Earth Buddies, that were covered in my HBA1 classes. After learning the lesson from a student perspective, I have been able to observe, recall, and apply some of the teaching methods that my professor used in class that were, in turn, effective in teaching the Nepalese students.

Another rewarding encounter I had was when a student asked for our thoughts on an opportunity he faced to expand into a relatively new industry. Immediately, I was able to connect his question to the concept of white space that was discussed in my Marketing class. My generalized explanation offered him and the class a different perspective to consider regarding a business opportunity. He was very grateful for this new angle of thinking.

New initiatives

This year, we launched a few new initiatives to increase engagement beyond the one-on-one coaching available to students with our alumni volunteers and instructors.

Early in the program, we hosted an Entrepreneurship Panel with guests Danielle Langton, LEADERite Sana Syed, MBA '22, and Niraj Karmacharya, a Nepalese entrepreneur. We facilitated a guided discussion and a Q&A-session for participants to learn more about the panellists’ unique journeys in their respective fields.

The class also heard from a past LEADERite and alumni volunteer, Nadine de Gannes, HBA ’09, Assistant Professor and HBA Program Faculty Director at Ivey. During this session, de Gannes spoke about the importance of Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) considerations in business and contextualized it to the local practices in Nepal. Although the topic of ESG may have been relatively new for the participants, the talk piqued their interest in looking deeper into this topic and finding ways to apply the principles in their own entrepreneurial pursuits.

Lastly, we had the pleasure of inviting Ajay Shrestha, one of the case collaborators who owns a café in Nepal called Kaffeine, to the case discussion. Given that it has been several years since the Kaffeine case was written, Shrestha was able to update the class on the café’s growth today as well as offered advice to entrepreneurs on achieving scalability within the Nepalese business landscape.

Key takeaways

The instructors gain a valuable learning experience too. Although we established an instructor-student relationship, it was certainly a mutually beneficial learning experience. As much as we helped reinforce the participants’ knowledge of business and entrepreneurship throughout the program, it was refreshing and interesting to learn with and from the class participants, who came from all walks of life and experiences.  

Greater understanding of the case-teaching process. Having the opportunity to sit on the other side of the table, I experienced first-hand how teaching requires a lot of preparation, iterations to improve, and patience to be a good instructor. Albeit the hard work and diligence needed, it is extremely rewarding to see students engaged and improve over time.

The importance of giving back. Creating social impact does not only have to entail providing monetary benefits, but it can also be achieved by being generous and giving with your time, effort, and energy towards a cause. We should never underestimate how each individual’s contribution, whether it be big or small, can collectively amass to making a positive difference in the world.

Overall, it was such a meaningful experience and incredibly inspiring to see the passion and growth in the Nepalese entrepreneurs over the two weeks. A huge thank you to the NYEF team for their continuous support, and we look forward to delivering the program in-person next year!