Imperial students aim to tackle challenges in Africa through new business club

Business School students are aiming to help businesses in Africa realise their potential through a new student club, which launches this weekend.

The Africa Business Club aims to foster dialogue between the academic community of Imperial College Business School and businesses in Africa, sharing expertise to support business growth across the continent.

One of the founders of the club is Dr Debo Odulana, an MSc International Health Management student. He spoke to Laura Singleton about the mission of the club ahead, official launch this weekend and how he hopes the club will forge closer relationships between the Business School and businesses in Africa. The club will be launched with a special event hosted at the Business School this weekend.

I’ve always been passionate about Africa’s future and the wealth of untapped business potential across the continent.

– Dr Debo Odulana

Student, MSc International Health Management

How did the Africa Business Club come into existence?

As a student from Nigeria, I’ve always been passionate about Africa’s future and the wealth of untapped business potential across the continent. I came to Imperial to learn business skills that would help me forge a career in healthcare, but I also wanted to give something back to my country from the amazing skills and knowledge I’ve developed during my studies here. I came up with the original idea for the club and then found other like-minded students who shared the same vision. We presented our plans to Diane Morgan, Associate Dean of Programmes, who was very helpful in championing our cause and pushing through the club into existence.

What does the club set out to achieve?

We hope to shine a spotlight on the business and social challenges facing Africa, by bringing together students and other industry professionals to come up with ideas that could help businesses grow across the continent. Many communities in Africa have entrepreneurs who are held back from developing their businesses through lack of finance, resources and education.

Part of our mission is to bring the expertise of Imperial College Business School to these communities. For example, we have an entrepreneurship module which covers the fundamental skills needed in business, including strategy, marketing and finance, which we are looking to share with businesses in Africa in future.

There are also lots of African students at the Business School who are looking to apply their business knowledge gained at Imperial to challenges in their own countries, so in future it would be ideal to have more African business issues addressed on the curriculum.

Who can take part in the Africa Business Club?

The club is open to all current students across the Business School and our events are also open to alumni and the general public. We are also linking up with other similar clubs such as Imperial’s Asia Business Club and joining forces with other business schools who run similar Africa business clubs including Cass, London Business School and the London School of Economics, to extend our network.

Tell me about the launch event this weekend?

On Saturday, we are officially launching the Africa Business Club with an event at Imperial College Business School. The theme of the event is about how innovation can help Africa’s future. We are looking for people to join in the dialogue and network with African business leaders as we discuss how innovation can help with a wide range of issues including how to develop new business models and the challenges facing the energy, utilities and media industries. Through keynote speeches and panel discussions we will address education, finance, media, technology and the political landscape in Africa.

What are your future plans for the club?

We have a five year strategy which includes lots of initiatives. We are aiming to raise the profile of the Africa Business Club through student recruitment events and career sessions and develop opportunities for field trips to Africa and internships.

In October this year, we are planning a ‘hackathon’ day in partnership with Imperial’s Asia Business Club. The event will encourage participants to come up with solutions to societal challenges in developing countries including Africa.

Next year we are looking to hold our first proper conference, which will bring together the African business clubs at other leading business schools including Cass, LBS and the LSE.

“Using Innovation to re-engineer Africa’s development – Moving from talk to action” is taking place at Imperial College Business School on Saturday 16 July. To purchase tickets or for further information visit the Africa Business Club website.