German MBA Creates Opportunities in Developing Countries

FSFM developing countries

This article is sponsored by Frankfurt School of Finance and Management (FSFM). Learn more about FSFM.

Nairobi, Kenya might seem an unlikely place for the offices of a German business school. Yet, for the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management (FSFM), it is by design. The school was founded to educate employees at German banks. Since its foundation as Bankakademie (Bank Academy) in 1957 the institution has expanded its outreach and strived to provide an education covering a wide variety of business, finance and management alternatives. In the 21st century, that means everything from microfinance business to SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises. Notably, both of these are rapidly expanding within developing countries.

Besides its recently opened regional office in Kenya, the school boasts more than 50 offices and finance projects in developing countries. In doing this, FSFM has broadened its reach and finds itself in competition not just with other colleges but with development agencies as well.

IAS supports developing countries

Most MBA applicants want a program with hands-on experience. Obviously this is a little more of a challenge if you’re looking for a program offering direct business experience in developing countries and emerging markets. It’s still a brave new world, an uncharted territory filled with almost unimaginable possibilities but equally fraught with risk. What was once described as ‘third world’ has metamorphosed into ‘the new frontier’. Eager to embrace these challenges, the next generation seeks post-MBA opportunities across the globe.

One of the trickier sectors in which to get involved in developing countries is the banking and financial sector. This is where FSFM’s International Advisory Services (IAS) comes into things. IAS operates much like an independent agency, providing consulting, development and finance expertise across the world. It arranges training projects for businesses in developing countries and supports clients such as donor organizations, NGOs, international financial institutions, microfinance businesses, and banks. With a focus on micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) it provides everything from capacity-building and technical advisory services to advising microfinance policy makers and regulators. It also provides technical support for training microfinance centers and conducts market research and studies.

The IAS is one of FSFM’s four core pillars, along with academic programs, research, and executive education. Clients benefit from IAS’s strength in seven areas including micro-banking, housing finance, rural and agricultural finance, and sustainable energy finance.

IAS offices support a diverse range of programs across the globe, which in turn can mean more MBA opportunities as well. The Seed Capital Assistance Facility (SCAF), for example, is aimed at helping energy investment funds provide seed financing to early stage clean energy enterprises and projects in developing countries in Asia and Africa. It’s implemented through the United Nations Environment Programme, the Asian Development Bank and the African Development Bank.

The National Climate Finance Institutions Support Program offers developing countries “ways to manage newly available financing for climate mitigation and adaptation activities. With the country-driven, direct access approach in mind, some of these countries are establishing ‘national funding entities’ to address non-commercial finance needs in ways that mobilize private investment.”

How MBAs benefit from Frankfurt School’s engagement in emerging markets

Although the international appeal of FSFM’s educational programs and advisory projects has long been evident, the language barrier was an obvious challenge. Starting in October 2014, FSFM began offering a full-time MBA designed for both German and international participants. The fifteen month program is taught in English, but as Frankfurt School President Dr Udo Steffens explains, “we’ve integrated an intensive German language course into the curriculum and we’re opening up our network to MBA students in particular, so they can look forward to finding genuine career opportunities in Germany.”

But MBA opportunities are certainly not limited to Germany; the program includes two core modules taught at South Africa’s University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business and Milan, Italy’s SDA Bocconi School of Management. Students in the MBA program also have direct access to the researchers and professionals involved in projects in a number of developing countries through the IAS.

These include business schemes such as the Renewable Energy Performance Platform, which aims to help government and private sector projects overcome investment hurdles across Sub-Saharan Africa – a region the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts will enjoy sustained growth in years to come. The Risk Management Center, working alongside the European Investment Bank and United Nations Environmental Programme, identifies risk mitigation and supports new instruments for medium-sized projects.

Besides development projects in a dozen different countries in Africa, which are focused on the microfinance business along with renewables and energy development the school also has offices in Turkey, Southeast Asia, and South America.

The Small Savings Mobilization project, supports the Peruvian microfinance business institution, Financiera EDYFICAR. It targets the development of consumer products and savings for low-income customers in the South American country.

The Turkey MSME Finance Facility combines long-term loans from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development with assistance services from the Frankfurt School provided for selected banks in Turkey. This project aims to boost lending to MSMEs and accelerate agricultural lending techniques to the poorer regions of Europe’s gateway to Asia.

Central African Business School: A further foothold in developing countries

The FSFM has also established a business school in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Central African Business School (CABS) launched a one-year MBA course, taught by German and Congolese professors, in October 2013. The school was established in partnership with the city’s Université Protestante au Congo (UPC) after the FSFM established a joint microfinance business master’s program at the African institution back in 2014, forging strong ties.

Patrick Bakengela Shamba, academic director at UPC, says: “When I can just see those students and get their feedback, I feel very proud. People did not think it was possible to do something that’s new and at an international level. When they see it is possible, then I think we did something that’s useful for the development of the country.”

This school is intended to facilitate microfinance businesses and SMEs. This presents a variety of opportunities for newly minted MBAs along with an increase in businesses. As the IAS website notes, “Entrepreneurs can transform markets, but the environment for entrepreneurship is poor in many developing countries, particularly in the energy sector. For new business ventures there is a lack of available enterprise development support services and seed financing is hard to secure, with most investors reluctant to engage too early. This means that even high potential renewable energy and efficiency sectors develop quite slowly.”

With its new full-time MBA and expansive projects, FSFM is doing its part towards working to accelerate the progress of these developing countries.

This article is sponsored by Frankfurt School of Finance and Management (FSFM).

Written by John Bankston

Content writer John began his career as an investigative reporter and is a prolific educational writer alongside his work for us, authoring over 100 nonfiction books for children and young adults since 2000.

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Very well written article, I could fathom every bit out of it. I am highly enthusiastic towards development sector,specially hailing from a developing nation like India. I really loved your statement about the so called ‘third world’ metamorphosing into ‘the new frontier’. I am looking forward to pursue my 'specialized' MBA from Germany next year. I have recently attended the QS World MBA Tour in Nov 2014. Soon i will be through with my GMAT & IELTS. However,I need more details regarding the program.