Bertha Center MBA Scholarship to drive social innovation

The top business school in Africa, the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, is offering five full MBA scholarships to enable purpose driven people to strengthen their impact. Applications to the scholarship and the MBA programme need to be submitted by 31 October 2012.

The world today faces numerous challenges. Inequality, environmental degradation, dwindling resources and social injustice are but a few of the obstacles that threaten the progress of modern society. At the same time, we are rapidly awakening to possibilities and opportunities for a creative rethinking of current paradigms in how we shape our world and create value.

In response, the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) is seeking to give socially innovative and entrepreneurial individuals a boost and support them in approaching some of these challenges as opportunities. Through the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the school is offering five full MBA scholarships for its 2013 intake.

“The Bertha MBA Scholarships have been established to reduce the financial burden for social entrepreneurs undertaking an MBA at the GSB, to encourage them to take an important step towards becoming more effective in using business and management tools for positive impact,” says Director of the GSB, Professor Walter Baets. The Bertha Centre, launched in partnership with the Bertha Foundation in 2011, aims to instil in managers and young leaders the insights and capabilities to build better organisations in emerging markets. “The Bertha Centre is a place where we convene bright ideas and nurture young talent with the innate desire to do good,” says Director of the Bertha Centre, Dr Francois Bonnici.

The programme equips purpose-driven people to pursue social and environmental initiatives in emerging markets. It is a learning laboratory to strengthen and contextualise personal and professional visions of transformation and equips students with a broad set of capabilities and real life exposure to be effective social innovators and entrepreneurs across all sectors.

An important part of how the Centre aims to achieve these goals is through the newly established Social Innovation (SI) Lab, which is being convened by the Bertha Centre and running through the 2nd half of the GSB MBA year.

“The SI Lab is a pioneering addition to the MBA programme that seeks to support individuals who want to apply their talent, creative and business thinking to reimagine the way the world is run,” says Bonnici.

It offers an integrated platform that threads together teaching, field work and innovative thinking. Throughout the action learning programme, students’ learning and development is supported by expert and practitioner symposiums, group work and individual tutorials with faculty. In its inaugural year in 2012, almost a third of the class has dedicated their MBA to understanding their potential as effective change agents in the SI Lab.

The Bertha Scholarship covers the tuition fees of the MBA programme. The Scholarship Committee is looking for candidates with a strong moral character, strong entrepreneurial drive, a track record of action, leadership qualities, traits of social activism and a commitment to the sustainable development of emerging economies.

Bonnici says: “We know we need more transformational and radical approaches to addressing the huge social and environmental challenges, while still creating opportunities for employment. We also know we need innovative solutions in the non-profit and public sectors to explore sustainable and scalable ways of serving and empowering those most often neglected in our societies. The inspiring efforts to forge new ideas to rebalance society give me a glimpse of what our future might look like, when these become more widely adopted or create value for all citizens.”

The closing date for scholarship applications is 31 October 2012. To apply for a Bertha Centre Scholarship, please contact Nicolette Laubscher at berthacentre@gsb.uct.ac.za or visit http://www.gsb.uct.ac.za/files/HowtoApply.pdf.

To find out more about the Bertha Centre and the Bertha MBA scholarships, please visit http://www.gsb.uct.ac.za/berthacentre.