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Ivey students build global connections through business education in Africa

Jul 18, 2023

Rimac Pic Edit

Serena Rimac (first from the left) and her teaching partners on a hike around Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.

In classrooms across Africa, case method education meets cross-cultural engagement through the Africa Service Learning (ASL) study trip. Bringing together Ivey HBA students each driven by a unique goal, ASL provides a transformative journey of teaching, personal growth, and global impact.


ASL is a study trip component for the elective course launched in 2012 by the Ubuntu Management Education Initiative. HBA students are sent to teach in one of five African countries: Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Ghana. Participants work together to demonstrate case method teaching at their host school and develop new cases inspired by businesses they encounter on the trip.

Ivey students choose to participate in ASL for a variety of reasons. Jared Weiner, HBA ’24 candidate, wanted an authentic travel experience, while Inayah Dharsi, HBA ’25 candidate, aimed to gain firsthand knowledge for her global development studies. Catherine Wu, HBA ’24 candidate was in search of a challenge that would broaden her global perspective and Serena Rimac, HBA ’24 candidate, was hoping to use her knowledge from Ivey to make a global impact. This year’s ASL participants all returned with an abundance of unexpected experiences that benefitted their personal growth inside and outside the classroom.

ASL is a unique opportunity for students to help aspiring entrepreneurs in Africa while developing their own personal growth. ASL challenges students with unfamiliar situations, helping them learn to adapt and be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Students experience working in a foreign environment and develop an international perspective of business, a trait highly sought after by recruiters in today’s increasingly globalized world.

Here are some of the experiences shared by students from this year’s trip.

Building relationships

ASL connects the Ivey community with students at African schools to establish lasting relationships. Weiner says the students stayed after class to get to know him and his fellow Ivey teaching partners, often using the opportunity to ask about networking, business advice, and opportunities to study at Ivey. “We got to know them on very personal levels and genuinely became friends,” says Weiner. “I talk regularly with a few of them still, despite being across the world with a seven-hour time difference!”

Wu experienced a similar connection when one of her students offered to host her for dinner and show her their family’s village of Awaham Nkwanta, Ghana. Wu was shown the animals and food grown in the village and learned about the self-sustaining food supply the community had. Wu’s student shared operational issues she identified at a pig farm she had interned with and was looking for advice. In collaboration with her student, Wu has decided to write her ASL case on this pig farm with a focus on the political challenges and competition Ghana’s meat production industry faces from importers.

Experiencing the country

Ivey students often take the opportunity during the ASL study trip to travel across their host countries and experience a different way of life and environment beyond the classroom. This year’s students enjoyed a wide variety of excursions. Weiner travelled to Kenya where his group was able to enjoy the country’s wildlife on game drives through its numerous national parks. Weiner even had the opportunity to take a bike ride through the famous Hell’s Gate National Park, seeing zebras, giraffes, gazelles, and other animals along the way.

Serena Rimac, HBA ’24 candidate, worked in Mwanza, Tanzania, and was able to enjoy the city’s bustling downtown or take a walk to nearby Lake Victoria, the biggest lake in Africa. She enjoyed learning some of the local dialect and says the locals were always happy to help her.

“I think one of the best parts of the experience is learning about your host country's culture, language, and customs. Many of the people you meet will be eager to share something with you, whether it be a phrase, a piece of history, or a local recommendation.” – Serena Rimac, HBA ’24 candidate

The success of the case study method

Wu witnessed firsthand the impact of her teaching when one of her students approached her to discuss an organization he was working on. Its goal is to provide entrepreneurial training to various industries in Ghana and beyond. Wu says it felt rewarding to share the case method and give her students the right tools to make an impact in their communities. “They feel confident enough in their understanding to apply what they learned in their own future ventures,” says Wu.

Wu says the students’ day classes do not have the opportunity to learn through discussion, whereas the case method she taught allowed them to learn from their classmates’ ideas and to challenge and expand their own views. The students have the chance to experience firsthand the decision-making behind handling complex business scenarios.

Inayah says many of the students she taught were business students but had signed up for the Ivey certificate course because of the decision-making and public speaking skills the case study method offers. “Many student leaders we met had campaigned across the continent for their position and shared with us detailed plans to enter politics after graduation. Their dedication to this goal was unlike anything I had ever seen,” says Inayah.

Firsthand recommendations

“This trip is a great opportunity to broaden your horizons, step outside of your comfort zone, challenge yourself, and meet amazing people around the world. It gives an eye-opening view of the world and different ways of life,” – Jared Weiner, HBA ’24 candidate
“[Because of the teaching component] I highly recommend the ASL program for those who want to enter careers such as consulting or management where understanding your stakeholder’s needs, communication strategies, understanding the reality of situations by asking the right questions, and presentation skills are highly important.” – Catherine Wu, HBA ’24 candidate
“The people you meet and the places you see are truly unforgettable. This program really pushed me to think about the typical business environment from a different perspective and opened my eyes to so many new opportunities, shaping me into a more well-rounded student and worker.” – Serena Rimac, HBA ’24 candidate
"I would recommend ASL for those who are not necessarily looking into following the traditional Ivey consulting or finance career path. Africa Service Learning, in my experience, was the ideal way to discover the various ways an Ivey degree can be applied, as well as explore the multitude of opportunities the world has to offer." – Inayah Dharsi, HBA ’25 candidate