On March 16th ALU’s School of Business held an MBA graduation ceremony which included the first cohort of Conservation professionals. Graduates hailed from Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. The ceremony was presided over by Dr. Eugene Mutimura (Rwandan Minister of Education), Fred Swaniker (Founder and CEO of ALUSB), and Dr. Donald Kaberuka (former African Development Bank President).
The MBA for Conservation Leaders is a rigorous 20-month program that combines world-class business education with training in leadership and conservation issues to prepare graduates for the next level of their careers. The curriculum concludes with a conservation-themed ‘capstone project’ for managers to apply their new skills to real problems in their organizations.
The ALU programme is the first of its kind to empower Africans with the innovative leadership training and tools needed to effect positive change in wildlife conservation on the continent. The School of Wildlife Conservation’s programme is especially significant as its existence directly counters the myth that Africans do not prioritize Wildlife Conservation. A recent Wildaid and AWF study also revealed just the opposite when its results showed that out of 2,000 Tanzanians surveyed in both rural and urban areas more than 79% of respondents said that it would matter a great deal to them if elephants disappeared from Tanzania and over 73% said that they associated wildlife with their national identity and heritage. When polled, 72% of South Africans thought that their government could be doing more to stop poaching. And 80% of 2,300 Ugandans surveyed in 2017, consider wildlife to be an important source of income for the country. This goes back to a key ALU belief that for Conservation to be successful it must be owned and driven by Africans. Unless African communities feel ownership of wildlife and the natural environment, they will have little incentive to conserve it.
Last year, the School of Wildlife Conservation enrolled another 14 rising conservation professionals in the Conservation MBA. There are also almost 50 undergraduate students specializing in conservation as their declared mission .
The graduating class is well equipped to be a force of change in the African conservation space. One conservation MBA student is working on a project to use remote sensors to monitor the health (temperature, sound, air quality, etc.) of bee hives to better understand why bees are dying out in massive numbers. He is also using radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to track where bees fly to better understand pollination patterns. Another student is developing an “investment bank for nature” to attract investment into Africa’s natural endowment.