Zimbabwean Belinda Mkanganwi, an incoming MBA at ESMT (European School of Management and Technology), is no future AIG Executive or hedge fund operator. She is something different: the type of MBA student that invests in a market and stays there, creating jobs and opportunities for others in the process.
Prior to starting her own brand strategy consultancy, South Africa-based Integra Africa, Mkanganwi worked as a marketing executive for companies such as Coca-Cola and Schweppes.
But after one year running her own business she realized that there were gaps in her knowledge and experience that could be filled by a formal business education.
However the costs were too great and it looked as though it would be another five years before she could afford tuition and living expenses for a year’s study. That was until she looked into the Kofi Annan Scholarship.
“I looked at the Kofi Annan Scholarship, which is designed specifically for students from developing nations, and realized that this was one that I was eligible for,” says Mkanganwi.
Mkanganwi looked at several schools that offered the scholarship and decided that ESMT, in Berlin, was the best fit for her aspirations.
“They [ESMT] have a strong focus on leadership and that is exactly what I need to take my business forward.”
She says that the application was straightforward and involved writing a short piece on what she wanted to do with her future career.
“Something must have fit for them because they awarded me a full scholarship to study on their Full-Time MBA.”
Mkanganwi’s business partner, Tendal Mhizha, will stay with the company while she is studying, to take care of day-to-day operations.
Mkanganwi describes studying in Berlin as, “a very exciting prospect... From everything I’ve been told, it sounds like it should be a lot of fun. I am a firm believer that the more you interface with different types of people, the more rounded you become in business.”
After her MBA, Mkanganwi wants to return to Zimbabwe and run the business from there, with Mhizha working out of South Africa.
"I have three wonderful children and a supportive husband who are making the sacrifice of being 'mommy-less' for a year so I can do this, so they are primarily who I will be going back to!"
She will focus on building Integra Africa and “strengthening its corporate strategy and brand strategy service offering.”
She says building a strong core in Southern Africa is the short-term goal with expansion to the wider African market later on.
An exciting prospect to be sure. Good luck to her. For more information about scholarship opportunities at ESMT, click here.