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Kelley School of Business MBA Program

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Kelley School of Business

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Kelley School of Business MBA Program

Last modified: Wednesday, February 9, 2011

IU Kelley School MBAs put NYT best-selling 'Good to Great' business principles to work in Africa

Feb. 9, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Thanks to a six-member team of Indiana University's Kelley School of Business M.B.A. students, New York Times best-selling author Jim Collins' Good to Great management framework will be shared for the first time with an international nonprofit doing work in Africa.

Giving Back to Africa

The Kelley School team's winning proposal was designed to benefit Bloomington, Ind.-based Giving Back to Africa, which works to improve educational opportunities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Currently in its first year, the case study program was co-developed and managed by ChimpWorks, Jim Collins' management laboratory, and Net Impact, a nonprofit organization that aims to inspire, educate and equip individuals to use the power of business to create a more socially and environmentally sustainable world.

Teams of M.B.A. students from across North America competed to be one of five groups chosen to apply Collins' Good to Great and the Social Sector framework in helping identify how nonprofits can move from good to great. Student teams from Yale, Berkeley, University of Alberta and Duke were also selected.

The Kelley School team's winning proposal was designed to benefit Bloomington, Ind.-based Giving Back to Africa (GBA). Founded by Ann Marie Thomson, adjunct assistant professor in IU's School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and her husband, Dr. Jim Calli, a local cardiologist, GBA is dedicated to the long-term education of young students in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

"Each of us on the team has a unique connection to Africa, and some, like me, to Congo directly," said Kelley School team organizer Nadirah Al-Uqdah Mutala, a second-year M.B.A. student from Brooklyn, N.Y. "In being true to the Kelley spirit, we recognized this as an innovative approach to making a contribution in the social sector. We were really drawn to the idea of applying our business skills in an international context, and the fact that it revolved around the Good to Great framework made it that much more compelling."

Program organizers touted it as an opportunity to develop next generation leadership capacity that will drive an economically and socially sustainable world and give back to communities in need.

"This program is terrific way for connecting great future talent with Jim Collins' business expertise to solve nonprofit challenges," said Liz Maw, executive director of Net Impact.

Net Impact

Collins added, "To see a young generation of leaders embracing the Good to Great ideas is inspiring. I hope the participants will take them as a guide to their own leadership as well as a never-ending gift to the organizations we are partnering with. The whole thing just seems to me to be a win for everybody because we are putting ideas in a place where they can make a difference."

A "giving back" ethos is central to the work of GBA, which aims to create and support programs with strong service learning components that encourage young students in the DRC to reach their full potential and, in turn, contribute to positive change in their country.

Kelley School M.B.A. team members Al-Uqdah Mutala, Virginia Myers, Chantal St. Louis, Anne Christensen, Neha Kale and Unyi Agba have been working since November to incorporate the Good to Great principles, along with their M.B.A. skills, to increase GBA's effectiveness. The team completed the project with a set of recommendations presented to GBA leadership this month. However, many of the students will continue working with GBA in the long term.

"In this case we grappled with problems that seem basic, but in these circumstances are huge challenges in educating Congolese children," Al-Uqdah Mutala said. "We have worked hard to pay particular attention to the working environment, where sometimes fundamental needs are not met. We are focused on helping the GBA leadership team make the biggest impact possible with finite resources."

Securing infrastructure, identifying and prioritizing mission-critical goals, and building local leadership capacity are central components of the Kelley MBA team's plan.

"Giving Back to Africa (GBA) is honored to benefit from the Jim Collins Good to Great competition as the first international organization to receive this support," said GBA President Jim Calli. "This speaks to the expertise and passion of the IU M.B.A. team that is working with us and comes at an opportune time as GBA continues the professionalization of our board. The challenges of Congo are complex, and the Collins business sector approach to the social service realm is a welcome addition to our model that we truly hope does help us on our road from good to great."

About Giving Back to Africa

Giving Back to Africa (GBA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the long-term mission of educating young people in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In partnership with local Congolese educational institutions and nongovernmental organizations, its goal is to empower GBA beneficiaries -- through service-centered education -- to become servant-leaders capable of taking control of their own lives while serving as change agents in their local communities and throughout the nation. For more information, visit,

About Net Impact

Net Impact is an international nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire, educate and equip individuals to use the power of business to create a more socially and environmentally sustainable world. Spanning six continents, its membership makes up one of the most influential networks of students and professionals in existence today. Net Impact members are current and emerging leaders in corporate responsibility, social entrepreneurship, nonprofit management, international development and environmental sustainability who are actively improving the world. The Net Impact network includes more than 260 volunteer-led chapters in cities throughout the world and a central office in San Francisco. For more information, visit