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Copenhagen MBA’s Social Enterprise Attracts Multi-Million-Dollar Valuation

Jack Langworthy’s social enterprise startup is revolutionizing agriculture in Tanzania. It’s backed by Silicon Valley big hitters like Uber co-founder Garrett Camp

Wed May 24 2017

BusinessBecause
Jack Langworthy joined the one-year MBA program at Copenhagen Business School with no intention of starting his own business. Now, he’s co-founder and CEO of NINAYO, a crowd-sourced market intelligence platform with a multi-million-dollar valuation.

With NINAYO, Jack aims to revolutionize agriculture in Tanzania. In Tanzania, 80% of the workforce are independent farmers. But, historically, farmers and markets have been unable to communicate supply and demand effectively. 30% of food rots in Tanzania despite high demand.

Launched in 2015, NINAYO lets farmers and markets advertise to one another, drop a GPS pin in a map, and connect online; improving ease of commerce and creating new business opportunities.

NINAYO was one of six startups selected to go through Silicon Valley-based startup accelerator Expa Labs, where it received investment at a huge valuation and backing from Uber chairman and co-founder Garrett Camp. The mobile-friendly platform has over 22,000 active users. It’s even been endorsed in a speech by Barack Obama.

Jack chose Copenhagen over Ivy league business schools in the US for his MBA back in 2012 – and it was there that he gained the skills and the mindset to develop into a successful social entrepreneur.

The Copenhagen MBA has responsible management at its core, and the school’s Entrepreneurship Platform hosts regular events connecting aspiring MBA entrepreneurs with the local startup community in Denmark.

Crucially for Jack, it was the Copenhagen MBA’s Leadership Discovery Process – a unique personal development course which runs throughout the MBA program and touches on diverse topics like cognitive coaching, brain functions, and human understanding – that helped him become a better-rounded business leader.

After graduation, he had job offers from two leading Scandinavian firms: IKEA and Novo Nordisk. He made the MBA triple jump – changing role, industry, and location – and became a business analyst at IKEA’s Swedish HQ.

It was a great gig; Jack made regular presentations for IKEA’s senior leadership and CEO. But he still had an itch for international development work. In the Fall of 2014, he started developing NINAYO with an IKEA colleague in the evenings after work. In February 2016, he left to go full-time with his social enterprise.

Where are you at right now with NINAYO? What do you hope to achieve?

There is a looming food crisis in the East Africa today. NINAYO is providing access to over 16,000 tons of food. We’re steadily growing at a quick month-on-month clip. We continue to work with the UN, USAID, and a host of smaller NGOs, to connect new African farmers and markets.

I've been dividing my time between villages in East Africa – where I have no toilet, hot shower or refrigeration – and the fanciest offices in San Francisco, where my startup hero Tim Ferris pops by to record a podcast or prep for his TED talks. I get cultural whiplash going back and forth between these two worlds, but relish the opportunity to bridge the innovation of Silicon Valley with the vast amount of opportunity in developing markets like Tanzania.

What advice do you have for MBAs looking to start their own social enterprise?

Firstly, work in an area you know well and are passionate about. While you might feel compelled to relieve the food security crisis in East Africa, most people outside of the region should not try to solve that situation through building their own social enterprise. The existing on-the-ground efforts have the local knowledge needed to do a better job. It's better to look to your own community, where you know the market personally and can be up close and engaged with your stakeholders. Even the socialist paradise of Copenhagen, the happiest city in the world, is rife with opportunities for social enterprises!

The second piece of advice is to just go for it. I know that's going to make certain MBAs cringe because it sounds so unmethodical. But I think most of us are too nervous and overthinking to put our ideas into action, so we eventually lose interest. It's happened to me many times. Once you've got a minimal viable product (MVP), then it's time to get methodical about testing and iterating. Launching an MVP will teach you so much more than theorizing and SWOT diagramming ever will. And once you have an MVP you can point to, you will find it unlocks the doors to advisors and possible investors who would not have given you the time of day otherwise.

kokoko

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at Copenhagen Business School?

Before applying to CBS, I was the logistics manager of a social enterprise that sold maize on behalf of poor farmers in Tanzania. My days were spent riding in lorries to far-flung African villages to procure, process, and resell the villages’ harvests. I was passionate about the work, but also eager to learn more about business, which I view as the only solution to poverty.

Soon, I was studying hard for the GRE. I was targeting the American Ivy League schools. I then found a Wall Street Journal study showed the average income of a Copenhagen MBA graduate was only slightly less than that of an Ivy League graduate.

Furthermore, the opportunity and financial costs were significantly lower because a Copenhagen MBA degree was one-year instead of two. I also liked the international element and small class size. Thankfully, the CBS admissions team was quick to turnaround my acceptance, and in about a month I was becoming a Dane and starting classes.

How has the Copenhagen MBA helped you in starting up your own social enterprise? 

When I attended Copenhagen Business School, I had no intention of starting my own business. But that's exactly what the Copenhagen MBA prepared me for.

In theory, the two things a CEO needs to do really well are HR and finance because if you hire the right people and manage the money appropriately it should be smooth sailing for the business from there. But the reality of startups is that founders need to be involved in everything before they can hire for that role. So, though I didn't realize it at the time, there were big payoffs from having a background in fields like marketing, accounting and organizational structure.

The Copenhagen MBA also emphasizes building leadership through its year-long Leadership Discovery Process. Though at first I definitely rolled my eyes, this became one of the most enjoyable classes in the program! Leadership and self-improvement are life-long practices, and the Copenhagen MBA provided me with a host of valuable tools for ongoing development.

Student Reviews

Copenhagen Business School (CBS)

Student

Verified

29/09/2019

CBS: efficient international network

CBS has always been ranked among the best universities in Europe and this means that it has become a sign of professionalism and success. The academic level is great thanks to the good teachers and the atmosphere is proactive and challenging. Lots of events are planned every week and this helps you to find your own way. CBS is not only a business school, it is a great and efficient international network.

Stella

Verified

24/04/2019

Good academic career

I did my Bachelors at CBS and their academic excellence and career opportunities led me to pursue my Masters in Accounting, Strategy and Control. I was very lucky to go on an exchange in Singapore for one semester it boosted me to get a career in a global firm. I like that it is super modern and has all the facilities for the business student in 2019. Especially, I liked the library and Bitlab where I spent most of my time studying. However, note that it is very demanding and studying here is no joke. Everything is very competitive and you are among the most excellent business students in the country. The interaction with international students helped me to see different perspectives in business and culturally and I was lucky to make friends from any part of the world. CBS is like a brand in Denmark. Every serious business company prioritizes us over any other Danish university and also it is free for European citizens. Overall, I have a very satisfying experience at CBS and I'm looking to continue my academical career even further.

Student

Verified

13/04/2019

CBS is one of the best!

All I have to say regarding my experience at CBS is that it is AMAZING. Having been tutored by world-class academic staff, I can definitely support that I am receiving the best of quality regarding my studies in Digital Marketing. Staff is very friendly and easy to approach. In addition, the facilities we enjoy are top class and meet any demands. Keep in mind that, EU citizens do not pay any fees. Student life might be non-existent here, but the location of the University in The very center of Copenhagen has a huge variety of choices to offer to students regarding their entertainment. Accommodation might be a problem, but early research of the market can be very useful. In addition, the University promotes diversity. In CBS University you can meet people from the whole world which is quite interesting. I definitely suggest CBS for any student who he's interested in pursuing a career in marketing or business.

Stefani

Verified

12/04/2019

The ideal business school

I have been enrolled in this university for 2 semesters. What I took from this experience is that there is nothing better out there for those looking for professional growth while being guided by some of the top-notch professors in Scandinavia. They have a really strong focus in technology and digital transformation and they are up to date to guarantee you land a job in the modern fast-evolving world. They also embrace diversity which means many students come from any part of the world and it takes the entire learning experience to another level. You simply learn from every other student cause everyone has different experiences and background which makes you open your mind and see the world from a different angle. In Denmark, even businesses prioritize people who graduate from CBS as it's commonly perceived as the most prestigious university for business graduates.

José Pedro

Verified

22/09/2019

A Place of Personal Growth

In CBS you can expect an environment of proactive thinking and growth. The university staff is always open to help and to debate. The teaching methods balance theoretical knowledge and practical skills enabling the student with capacity and confidence to enter the job market successfully. The existence of students from all over the world stimulates discussion and promotion of different cultures, ideas and perspectives. I highly recommend this university for students in business-related areas.

Cathy

Verified

5/02/2019

Environment

The environment here is really great. Despite the well organized buildings and libraries, there are also places for students to just stay and relax also even study in the corners of each campus. The professors are mostly really nice and try to interact with students a lot. So, to sum up, the environment is really nice for studying here.

Philip

Verified

15/04/2018

Quality education

Quality education where it emphazises the importance of academic. No finger to put on this aspect of the school. However, sometimes the administration and IT can be lacking a bit, but in general a really good choice for education!

Student

Verified

27/09/2017

Best Time!

Classes are challenging and conducted in a professional manner. CBS offers a wide range of possibilities to develop outside of the classes! Libraries and other facilities on the campus are very well adjusted to the student needs.

Student

Verified

22/09/2017

A heavily theory-based curriculum combined with an ever-stimulating environment

I am currently a Master student at CBS, but I have also completed a Bachelor's Degree in this university. I am quite satisfied with my studies and the teaching level. However, when compared to other business schools, it becomes apparent that most courses at CBS strive to find a good balance between theoretical insight and real-life examples. Compared to my exchange university, the projects that I have found myself writing at CBS have a far less practical application and also leave little room for creativity. If the teaching is heavily theoretical, on the bright side, the university arranges a number of events throughout the year to encourage students to apply their knowledge, in the form of career fairs, case competitions, and other events organized by student associations. In my experience, teachers are very easily approachable and happy to answer your questions. A foreign student like me will find a more international environment at Master level, since the number of international (or at least non-Scandinavian) students enrolled in the Bachelor programs is quite low. However, all communication (both oral and written) from teachers and the university offices is always in English. Administrative offices, student guidance services, the career center, and the international office are definitely worth a mention. All of the requests that I have had throughout the years have always been met with kindness, promptness and efficiency.

Student

Verified

29/09/2019

CBS: efficient international network

CBS has always been ranked among the best universities in Europe and this means that it has become a sign of professionalism and success. The academic level is great thanks to the good teachers and the atmosphere is proactive and challenging. Lots of events are planned every week and this helps you to find your own way. CBS is not only a business school, it is a great and efficient international network.

Stella

Verified

24/04/2019

Good academic career

I did my Bachelors at CBS and their academic excellence and career opportunities led me to pursue my Masters in Accounting, Strategy and Control. I was very lucky to go on an exchange in Singapore for one semester it boosted me to get a career in a global firm. I like that it is super modern and has all the facilities for the business student in 2019. Especially, I liked the library and Bitlab where I spent most of my time studying. However, note that it is very demanding and studying here is no joke. Everything is very competitive and you are among the most excellent business students in the country. The interaction with international students helped me to see different perspectives in business and culturally and I was lucky to make friends from any part of the world. CBS is like a brand in Denmark. Every serious business company prioritizes us over any other Danish university and also it is free for European citizens. Overall, I have a very satisfying experience at CBS and I'm looking to continue my academical career even further.

Student

Verified

13/04/2019

CBS is one of the best!

All I have to say regarding my experience at CBS is that it is AMAZING. Having been tutored by world-class academic staff, I can definitely support that I am receiving the best of quality regarding my studies in Digital Marketing. Staff is very friendly and easy to approach. In addition, the facilities we enjoy are top class and meet any demands. Keep in mind that, EU citizens do not pay any fees. Student life might be non-existent here, but the location of the University in The very center of Copenhagen has a huge variety of choices to offer to students regarding their entertainment. Accommodation might be a problem, but early research of the market can be very useful. In addition, the University promotes diversity. In CBS University you can meet people from the whole world which is quite interesting. I definitely suggest CBS for any student who he's interested in pursuing a career in marketing or business.

Stefani

Verified

12/04/2019

The ideal business school

I have been enrolled in this university for 2 semesters. What I took from this experience is that there is nothing better out there for those looking for professional growth while being guided by some of the top-notch professors in Scandinavia. They have a really strong focus in technology and digital transformation and they are up to date to guarantee you land a job in the modern fast-evolving world. They also embrace diversity which means many students come from any part of the world and it takes the entire learning experience to another level. You simply learn from every other student cause everyone has different experiences and background which makes you open your mind and see the world from a different angle. In Denmark, even businesses prioritize people who graduate from CBS as it's commonly perceived as the most prestigious university for business graduates.

José Pedro

Verified

22/09/2019

A Place of Personal Growth

In CBS you can expect an environment of proactive thinking and growth. The university staff is always open to help and to debate. The teaching methods balance theoretical knowledge and practical skills enabling the student with capacity and confidence to enter the job market successfully. The existence of students from all over the world stimulates discussion and promotion of different cultures, ideas and perspectives. I highly recommend this university for students in business-related areas.

Cathy

Verified

5/02/2019

Environment

The environment here is really great. Despite the well organized buildings and libraries, there are also places for students to just stay and relax also even study in the corners of each campus. The professors are mostly really nice and try to interact with students a lot. So, to sum up, the environment is really nice for studying here.

Philip

Verified

15/04/2018

Quality education

Quality education where it emphazises the importance of academic. No finger to put on this aspect of the school. However, sometimes the administration and IT can be lacking a bit, but in general a really good choice for education!

Student

Verified

27/09/2017

Best Time!

Classes are challenging and conducted in a professional manner. CBS offers a wide range of possibilities to develop outside of the classes! Libraries and other facilities on the campus are very well adjusted to the student needs.

Student

Verified

22/09/2017

A heavily theory-based curriculum combined with an ever-stimulating environment

I am currently a Master student at CBS, but I have also completed a Bachelor's Degree in this university. I am quite satisfied with my studies and the teaching level. However, when compared to other business schools, it becomes apparent that most courses at CBS strive to find a good balance between theoretical insight and real-life examples. Compared to my exchange university, the projects that I have found myself writing at CBS have a far less practical application and also leave little room for creativity. If the teaching is heavily theoretical, on the bright side, the university arranges a number of events throughout the year to encourage students to apply their knowledge, in the form of career fairs, case competitions, and other events organized by student associations. In my experience, teachers are very easily approachable and happy to answer your questions. A foreign student like me will find a more international environment at Master level, since the number of international (or at least non-Scandinavian) students enrolled in the Bachelor programs is quite low. However, all communication (both oral and written) from teachers and the university offices is always in English. Administrative offices, student guidance services, the career center, and the international office are definitely worth a mention. All of the requests that I have had throughout the years have always been met with kindness, promptness and efficiency.

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