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Announcing the Africa Business Initiative

The following message from Dean Gene Anderson and Clinical Assistant Professor Paul Harper was sent April 20, 2023, to Pitt Business students, faculty, and staff:

Dear Colleagues: The Pitt Business purpose, as stated in our refreshed strategic framework, is to empower leaders to shape a better future through business. Today we are excited to announce the Africa Business Initiative, which creates transformational learning opportunities for our students and staff along with high-impact research opportunities for faculty as we engage with partners in Africa and work toward a more just global society.

This school-wide initiative is an extension of the University’s Pitt Embraces Africa effort, which builds on the Global Plan for Pitt. We are collaborating with the Center for African Studies (CAS) in one of the most significant new school-specific collaborations with the University Center for International Studies.

Africa is not only the cradle of civilization but is rapidly emerging as the epicenter of innovation and urbanization. The continent will be home to 25% of the world’s population by 2050, with the youngest population globally and huge impacts on geopolitics, global trade, migration, and all aspects of life.

Our school’s initiative, funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center Grant awarded to CAS, provides opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to connect with the world’s second largest continent. Key activities that are currently under development include:

  • New institutional partnerships with prominent South African research universities and business schools.
  • International faculty research collaborations, with a particular emphasis on business ethics, social innovation, entrepreneurship, and organizational transformation.
  • Unique global experience opportunities for professional students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. 
  • African Executive/Entrepreneur in Residence program with an emphasis on women’s leadership.

Many staff and faculty have supported Paul’s tireless work throughout the academic year in the formation of the Africa Business Initiative: John Camillus, Carrie Leana, and Sharon Alvarez have been great mentors. Bryan Schultz, Hillary Koller, and Bill McShane have provided substantial support and guidance on student programming activities. The initiative also benefits substantially from the ongoing support of Tom Davis and the Berg Center for Leadership and Ethics.  

As they developed ways to extend the Race and Business Ethics course, Jen Petrie-Wyman and Carlton Scott connected Paul with CAS and Interim Director Catherine Koverola. Bopaya Bidanda from the Swanson School of Engineering has shared insights on his work in Nigeria that is a model for our new effort. Katz alumnus Adeola Adetunji (MBA ’93), managing director of Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, along with Prof. Charlene Lew, director of Internationalization, Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa, have also been great partners. Next is the implementation.

For the Africa Business Initiative to achieve its aspirational goals, it will take the involvement of many more from our Pitt Business community. This new web page provides more details and comments from leaders about the impact we can make together.

We look forward to getting your input, sharing more details, and working together to take Pitt to Africa and bring Africa to Pitt.

Thank you.

Gene Anderson
Henry E. Haller Jr Dean

Paul T. Harper, PhD

Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration
University of Pittsburgh