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Pitt Embraces Africa with the Africa Business Initiative
Africa Business Initiative

The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for African Studies (CAS), helmed by Dr. Catherine Koverola, is leading the charge and streamlining Pitt’s efforts to engage with Africa through the Pitt Embraces Africa initiative.

Pitt Embraces Africa builds on the Global Plan for Pitt, with the goal of taking Pitt to the world and bringing the world to Pitt; preparing and supporting globally minded students, faculty, and staff; ensuring global impact; and providing global operations support. The Africa Business Initiative, led by the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration, is among the first of many projects that will drive the extensive impact of Pitt Embraces Africa along with new school-specific collaborations with the University Center for International Studies.

Koverola said, “We are excited for our community to learn about the tremendous opportunities available for students and faculty to become engaged with and on the African continent. This is a region of the world that is not only the cradle of civilization but is rapidly emerging as the epicenter of innovation and urbanization.”

Africa 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.

Of late, the Pitt Embraces Africa efforts have been focused on developing and strengthening relationships in Senegal, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa and Pitt has several interdisciplinary teams establishing research collaborations with institutions in these countries. For example, in May 2023, there is a delegation of eight Pitt faculty and staff from the humanities, social sciences and public health traveling to Senegal to meet with Senegalese colleagues to develop interdisciplinary collaborative opportunities for research and student internships.

Vice Chancellor for Global Affairs and Director of the University Center for International Studies Ariel Armony is one of the initiative’s strongest supporters. Armony said, “Pitt Embraces Africa is a wonderful way to bring together all of the University’s work in and around the continent. My recent trip to Senegal and Kenya was extremely productive. We are launching some exciting partnerships and new opportunities for students. Embracing Africa is embracing the future, and I’m thrilled at current developments and even more excited for what’s to come.”

Business Opportunities Through Partnerships

The Africa Business Initiative, funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center Grant awarded to CAS, will create numerous partnerships between the continent and Pitt Business community.

“The purpose of Pitt Business is to empower leaders to shape a better future through business,” said Gene Anderson, Henry E. Haller Jr. Dean. “Our Africa Business Initiative creates transformational learning opportunities for our students and staff along with high-impact research opportunities for faculty as we engage and learn from partners in Africa.”

Paul Harper, Clinical Assistant Professor of Business Administration who is leading this initiative, describes it as “is a lighthouse that directs and attracts business professionals and organizations working toward a more just global society.”

He said the initiative provides opportunities for Pitt Business students, faculty, and staff to connect with the world’s second largest continent through partnerships, fellowships, and global exchanges. 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

Global Engagement with Impact 

Supporters of the Africa Business Initiative are excited about its potential benefits.

Adeola Adetunji (MBA ’93), Managing Director, Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, said: “Africa has vast untapped potentials, from its teeming young population to opportunities for technological innovation leapfrog, but it is a geographical expression with diverse and sometimes complex idiosyncrasies – values, culture, behavior, and other intangibles – that are easier understood through collaboration with and input from experienced players or networks.”

Prof. Charlene Lew, Director of Internationalization, Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), University of Pretoria, South Africa, said: “Our partnership with the Africa Business Initiative and Pitt Business rightly supports GIBS’ mission to build responsible performance on the continent. Already we have experienced practical and impactful ways in which the partnership develops capabilities and thought leadership in support of social justice.”

She added: “The richness of our African communal spirit, resilience, and resourcefulness interweaves well with the Africa Business Initiative’s work towards a more just global society. We have been inspired by the drive and generosity that we have experienced through this initiative.”

For more information about Pitt Embraces Africa, contact Koverola at To learn more about the Africa Business Initiative, visit this web page or contact Harper at