20 February 2023
Written by Milpark Communications
A team of MBA students from Milpark Business School has shown that the next generation of business leaders can succeed while also furthering United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) after being named runner up in the prestigious 2022 PGS Sustainability Awards Africa.
MBA students from Milpark Business School took second place at the 2022 Sustainability Awards during a ceremony on 11 January 2023. The competition challenged university teams from around the world to submit presentations that in some way showed how they advanced environmental protections, contributed to social and economic development, and promoted good governance and responsible management.
Hosted by the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) Global Students, a global platform that seeks to uphold the principles for responsible management education, the PGS Sustainability Award Africa acknowledges impactful student-led initiatives that in some way advance the UN SDGs. First place went to a student team from Al Akhawayn University in Morocco.
The Milpark student team, which called itself “The Five Tigers”, included Beverly Mmamedupi Nkwana, Siyasanga Dyosiba, Malixole Tsengiwe, Bongani Godlwana and team leader Gail Jaber. Their submission centred around the work the team did for their Social Responsibility and Environmental Management (SREM) module, part of their MBA studies. This culminated in a project on crowdfunding organisation, Feenix, an innovative education group that has raised R161.69 million and helped over 3 305 students with higher education studies.
“We had endless nights of team meetings, while also focusing on other modules and, for some of us, full-time jobs too,” says Jaber, “But it was all worth it in the end, and we are really pleased to have come in second place.”
As it turns out, the SREM module was excellent preparation for the Sustainability Awards. During the SREM module, student teams were challenged to compete against one another to pitch to potential investors for funding that went toward a charity of their choice. The exercise demanded they be immersed in an NGO or charity – its needs and challenges – and learn how to present an attractive investment opportunity to funders. At the end of the MBA SREM module, Milpark Education awarded funding to the charity the winning project championed.
The driving force behind SREM has been to offer in-depth exposure to social responsibility and environmental management from four perspectives: corporate, government, individual and NGO. It ties in with Milpark Education’s philosophy of community outreach, engagement, and social responsibility as drivers of social, environmental, and economic sustainability.
Because the Feenix project pitch had been of outstanding quality, senior lecturer Nazmira Sayed encouraged the team to enter the global student competition. She says, “As a business school, we are very much focused on teaching students that business is not only about making a profit but also about giving back, interacting with communities in need.” Sayed added, “We place a very high premium on sustainability and responsiveness of sustainability in our programme offering. The purpose of the model is for students to assimilate the SDGs and use them for the good of South Africa and the rest of the world.”
Jaber says the SREM module has taken her on a crucial personal and professional journey. “I have learnt so much, building confidence and gaining skills that I can use in my current workspace.” The experience also grounded her in an ethic for doing better business: “Especially in today’s world with the buzz around corporate social responsibility, there is definitely a need to move beyond merely intending to do good, and to actually achieving that.”