Using my MBA to benefit society
By Salma Seedat, Alumnus of the Year 2020: Social Impact
Throughout my MBA, I connected strongly with the University of Stellenbosch Business School’s mission of developing responsible leaders through transformative learning so that they have a positive impact on society. So much so that my research assignment delved into the transformative learning experiences of my peers in the MBA and the extent to which these helped them develop their awareness and involvement in responsible leadership within their communities and their careers. The engagement with international organisations, which was facilitated through the MBA MIO stream, further cemented this idea that we can create business structures that put societal benefit at the core of their models.
I am particularly interested in the creation of income generation opportunities for women, particularly in an African context…
On graduating, my focus shifted to how I can use the knowledge and skills I had attained throughout my career and during my MBA to benefit society. I am particularly interested in the creation of income generation opportunities for women, particularly in an African context, as a means of alleviating poverty and contributing to the creation of an equitable society. I was invited to join the Steering Committee of the South African chapter of the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) which focuses on propelling entrepreneurship in emerging economies. The South African chapter specifically helps small and growing businesses (SGBs) by offering financial, educational, and business support services to ensure that SGBs can create jobs, stimulate long-term economic growth, and produce environmental and societal benefits in their areas of influence. My role is to help the Chapter with its strategic direction, particularly in their key focus areas relating to gender equality and entrepreneurial approaches to environmental action.
I am also a Board Member of the pan-African network, Impact@Africa, which focuses on developing the impact investing ecosystem in Africa through facilitating collaborative efforts between ecosystem stakeholders aimed at addressing the key barriers to impact investing in Africa. I was the Chairperson of the network during its conception phase and now play a key role in contributing to the strategy of the network to ensure that we can make significant inroads towards creating a thriving environment that attracts impact investments that have both social and environmental benefits for the continent. We are in the process of finalising a multi-pronged initiative that includes developing social venture funds on MBA campuses around the continent to help groom the next generation of local African impact investment fund managers.
Lastly, I am part of an international board of advisors for Primary Care International (PCI), a UK-based social enterprise working to strengthen primary healthcare globally, with a particular focus on the health workforce. I was part of the group that helped PCI develop their social investment campaign as they gear up to develop the capacity of 25 000 healthcare workers by 2025. The organisation focuses on filling critical gaps in primary health care systems in low and middle-income countries, including at the nexus of Non-Communicable Diseases and Covid-19.
This aligns strongly with my current position as Director: Contracts, Grants and Compliance (CCG) & Special Initiatives at BroadReach, a health development company that focuses on strengthening health systems across the globe using innovative technology. In this role, I am responsible for the governance and ethical compliance of our organisation towards the use of public funds for societal benefit.
As an ambassador of the USB, I aim to share my experience, knowledge, and skills with current and potential students, as well as alumni of the university.
As an ambassador of the USB, I aim to share my experience, knowledge, and skills with current and potential students, as well as alumni of the university. I have a structured mentorship agreement with five young women and guide them through their leadership development journeys. In addition, I lecture on strategic leadership for both the MBA MIO stream as well as the PGDip in Leadership Development, and I participate as a guest speaker on various platforms focusing on responsible leadership and strategy development for NGOs and small businesses.
But life is not just about careers and work, and I enjoy hiking regularly with my family, exploring the culinary delights that Cape Town has to offer with my friends, and playing video games with my teenage sons! I truly believe that the strong connection with family and community helps me to be a better leader in the workplace.