Tag: africa

Olin Africa Business Club (OABC) was the brainchild of Ony Mgbeahurike. As a first-year MBA student, Ony saw there were few students at Olin from the African continent, and there was a dearth of information on Africa and the rich opportunities it has to offer. Africa had been buried in the conversation, an afterthought–and he wanted to change that.

He wanted Africa to become the narrative; to be part of the conversation.

“While applying to Olin, I realized there were many student clubs, but none related to business in Africa,” Mgbeahurike recalls. “I realized there was an opportunity to create an organization that could promote Africa and be a partner in achieving Olin’s mission and vision as a truly global school.”

Mgbeahurike recruited fellow students from Africa to conceptualize and launch OABC. Matilda Thomas, Sharon Mazimba, Chioma Ukeje, Eric Ontieri and Ubaka Ogbunude, are all founding members and officers of the club.

Among OABC’s ambitious goals is the mission to increase awareness of business opportunities, culture, politics, and the economic potential of Africa. Here a just a few facts that may surprise non-Africans:

  • Africa’s consumer spending to be $2.3T by 2025 (McKinsey report)
  • The United Nations predicts that one-fifth of the world’s population will be living in Africa by 2050, with over 40% being youth.
  • Uber, McKinsey, GE, P&G, Nestle, Danone, Unilever are among many companies currently investing in Africa.

While the overall theme is to raise awareness on campus, we believe that OABC can add value to the rich tapestry that is Washington University in St. Louis. We aim to help with recruiting by supporting the admissions office and serving as a resource to prospective students from Africa. We want to infuse Africa into the curriculum, encouraging professors to include the economics and business landscape into the classroom conversation.

We plan to encourage graduates to explore career opportunities in Africa. Collaborating with and leveraging the WCC platform and alumni network, we plan to extend the employment network for Olin graduates outside the territorial United States. Also, we are positioning to be a resource to Olin’s experiential learning opportunities on the African continent (e.g. CEL Practicum in Madagascar and Global Management Studies).

To learn more about OABC, please visit our CampusGroups page or visit our room at the One World Event on November 3, 2017 in Simon Hall, 6:30 p.m.




OABC Officers

Ony Mgbeahurike, President
Ony was born and raised in Owerri, Nigeria. He moved to the U.S at age 12 where he completed his undergraduate degree in Manufacturing Operations at University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Having worked at General Mills for over 3 years in various roles, Ony’s passion and ambition is to increase global food supply, especially in Africa. He plans to use his MBA as a springboard to realize his ambition.

Chioma Ukeje, VP Finance
Chioma was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria where she completed her undergraduate degree in Accounting with Honors from Covenant University, Ota. She has worked in various functions since then, her last stint being in Guaranty Trust Bank, PLC Nigeria. Chioma is passionate about finance and strategy, especially in the technology space, and is using her MBA as a platform to realize this career path; she is also passionate about youth development in Nigeria.

Matilda Thomas (VP Programs)
Matilda is an architectural designer with experience working in both the United States and Nigeria. Originally from Nigeria, she earned her BA degree with honors in architecture from Baylor University in Texas in 2014. Matilda is a career switcher interested in working in strategy and consulting. She takes special interest in issues affecting the developing world, especially Africa, and hopes that through a career in consulting, she would be equipped to tackle some of the most pressing issues affecting the continent.

Sharon Mazimba (VP Programs)
Sharon is a first-year MBA hailing from Lusaka, Zambia. She has traveled and lived in various places, which has exposed her to the different views and perceptions people have about the continent. She is therefore extremely excited to be part of a club that is bringing Africa and all the amazing opportunities the continent has to offer to the Olin and broader WashU community.

Ubaka Ogbunude (VP Social)
Ubaka was raised in Eastern Nigeria in a middle-class family. He has a bachelor’s degree from University of Calabar and Post Graduate Diploma from National Open University of Nigeria. Ubaka has about 9 years of career experience from Zenith Bank Plc- a leading retail bank in Sub Saharan Africa. Ubaka’s interest rests on emerging and developing financial markets.

Eric Ontieri (VP Communications)
Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Eric pursued a BSc. in Actuarial Science at St. John’s University before doing a stint on Wall Street. He then moved to Kenya to start an ISP targeting the lower half of the pyramid. He came to realize he was insufficiently skilled to scale the business and enrolled at Olin. He has an interest in technology, finance, and social entrepreneurship.

“Africa”, as a concept, may evoke thoughts of starving children, uncomfortable living conditions, or social depravity. Within my own subconscious mind, and I believe the minds of most Americans, Africa represents the continent with too few natural resources to keep pace with the modernization of the rest of the world. As an emerging market, I had no clue of the natural wonders and significant benefit it will someday offer globalization beyond an additional middle class to purchase western goods.

Guest Blogger: Micah Northcutt was a member of the CEL Practicum team working with The Women’s Bakery consulting project in Rwanda.

After leaving Kigali with a complete about-face as to the global potential of the Rwandan work-force, the team chose to spend a week touring Zambia, Botswana, and South Africa.

Africa-MapOn previous adventures, I toured the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls, I ate my way through most of Europe, and swam in the waters of the Caribbean. However, never had I felt the mist 100 meters above Victoria Falls. Never in my life had I slept on a safari in an open field as the world’s largest land animal passed a few feet behind my tent and the king of the jungle roared in the distance. On the southernmost tip of Africa I swam with the Great Whites, drank wine that rivals the grapes of Italy, and consumed some of the best seafood of my life.

It is true that (currently) visiting Africa requires some discomfort. Air conditioning is sparse, bottled water is typically required, and the mosquitoes can get pretty annoying. However, the thought that the African market is emerging purely as a beneficiary of the western world is silly. The touristic experiences following our work in Rwanda actually enlightened me to the personal benefit I as a global citizen will receive as Rwanda and the rest of Africa enter the modern markets. By helping to improve nutrition and the economic base within Africa, I am helping to open the doors of Africa to my children and grandchildren.

Africa is not a helpless continent of dirt and poverty. It is a jungle of natural wonders waiting to be embraced by the global markets. Work is required, but the entire world will benefit.

Related blog posts:

Why I created The Women’s Bakery

A visit to rural Rwanda

The three hour-long trek to the small rural town of Bushoga in Northern Rwanda took us away from modern civilization and toward a village populated with houses made of clay.

Bushoga1Without any electricity for simple cooking or air conditioning, or bathrooms, I witnessed the discomfort that our hosts must bear every day. For them, it is life; yet, I was inspired that our classmate Markey Culver spent over two years in such living conditions and was able to grow accustomed to their ways.

Despite the fact that our living conditions are so very different, my group and I quickly felt at home in Bushoga. The kind-hearted nature of Markey’s friends made it seem as if we had walked down the street to a neighbor’s house. Yes, the language barrier existed, but we laughed when they made jokes in English and they eagerly exchanged business ideas with us.

Bushoga3I quickly became aware of the universal power of sharing a meal, without borders or stereotypes. Markey’s friends created African dishes that would satisfy our appetites without leaving our stomachs uneasy (yes, it is easy for your stomach to feel upset!). The mashed plantains, frites, beans, eggplant, and maize satiated our cravings and gave us the energy to continue our adventure touring their village.

To enjoy a meal while eating on the cement floor of the small 250 square foot house surely was a contrast from what we are familiar with in America. This was their only living space  other than their two bedrooms, and only six of us could fit in the room at one time.

Our hosts prepared the meal in their backyard over a couple small pots above open fires. Nonetheless, our hosts were so gracious to welcome us and Markey reminded us that it was an honor for them to serve us a meal. Yes, on the surface life in this small rural town differs quite drastically from life in America. But it is quite simple to identify connections with their people and we were honored to have shared this day with them.

Bushoga2Heather traveled to Africa with the CEL Practicum team consulting with The Women’s Bakery. The team’s client is a fellow-MBA student, Markey Culver, a former Peace Corps volunteer who created a blended for-profit and non-profit business, The Women’s Bakery, to teach women in rural Rwanda how to bake and create a self-sustaining business model to improve nutrition and income for their families.

Graduation day at The Women’s Bakery (TWB) was an incredible experience to witness. It gave a comprehensive perspective of the impact TWB training has on the women’s lives.

When we arrived some of the women were finishing up the preparing and baking of bread for the guests. The ceremony commenced with Aime’s acknowledgements and congratulations to the women for their hard work and earned accomplishment.

Guest Blogger: Courtney Lee, MBA’17, member of the CEL Practicum team consulting with The Women’s Bakery

Women's bakery women in chef hatsSeveral people spoke, including the Pastor from Africa New Life (where the bakery is hosted) and the mayor of the village, but the speech that stood out to me the most was one made by Faith, one of the graduating women. Faith spoke at length about how far she and her classmates have come in a short period of time, how proud they should be that all fifteen women completed the training, and how well equipped they are to provide their communities and families with the nutrition they lack.

The women’s education ranges from illiterate to completing primary school. In just four months, TWB equipped these women with several years’ worth of academic and practical business education. Each of the women received an apron, chef’s hat, and, most importantly, a diploma. Their happiness was priceless. Mama Aisha, a woman who emerged as a leader in her class, shed tears of joy as she admired her diploma. The emotions we observed on graduation day were significant because Rwanda’s culture is such that outward displays of emotion are considered taboo.

The women presented TWB staff with a fruit basket. This is a significant gesture of appreciation as fruit baskets are symbols of major life milestones such as marriage.

Women's bakery with certificatesGraduation was a meaningful day for the women because TWB provided them with an education that they would not be able to access any other way. It also created an opportunity for them to both earn a higher living wage and provide extremely nutritious bread to their families and communities.

We were honored to witness the impact that TWB had on these women and it makes our consulting work feel all the more worthwhile.


I can hear my high school track coach right now: “envision yourself successfully achieving your goal.” That’s all I could think about as we sat together last night, wrapping up our plans for what we plan to achieve this week during our CEL Practicum trip to Africa. (more…)