MBA Challenge logo

The Financial Times partnered with the Global Fund for Children, the FT’s chosen charity for its 2012 seasonal appeal, to set a challenge for MBA participants:

Develop recommendations for a community-based organisation working with vulnerable children to help them focus on their long-term business sustainability plan

The winning team of the challenge has now been announced. Team Per Aspera Ad Astra developed recommendations for a children’s charity in Colombia funded by the GFC. Their report was voted number one by our judging panel.

Why should I apply?

When James Kofi Annan was a child, he was trafficked to work in the Ghanaian fishing industry. Today, aged 38, he runs Challenging Heights, a community organisation that works to save other children suffering the same fate. In Haiti, Daniel Tillias has set up a sports and education programme, Sakala, to combat gang violence. In Senegal, Issa Kouyaté provides food, healthcare and education to child beggars on the streets of Saint Louis through Maison de la Gare, an organisation originally based in a railway station.

The organisations have all received support from the Global Fund for Children, the Financial Times’ seasonal appeal partner. But this, as with all the groups supported by GFC, is not enough to ensure their long-term sustainability.

GFC joins forces with 50 community-based organisations every year, providing grants and training to improve their visibility and develop their work. The organisations are taught how to tap into networks and overcome obstacles that hinder their progress. For every £1 GFC invests, £7 from other funders follows and after five to seven years the organisations’ budgets ­triple. Thousands of children in remote and impoverished communities are given life-changing opportunities.

However, the organisations often sacrifice long-term financial security and planning to meet children’s urgent needs. To survive, they must find ways to ensure continuity, by building partnerships and fundraising and ensuring they are not wholly reliant on a small pool of sponsors. Every year, a small number receive a sustainability award of $25,000-$40,000 but they still need support investing this to achieve long-term growth. To address this using input from future business leaders, the FT and GFC are launching a challenge for MBA students.

Not only will this challenge be a test of your business skills, it will also be an opportunity for you to see how those skills can be applied in the poorest parts of the world.

How does it work?

The challenge will run from January 2013 to November 2013. Shortlisted teams will be assigned to a GFC partner organisation and will tackle entrenched problems in difficult economic and social environments, working with grassroots leaders to find solutions. They will be asked to provide analysis and ultimately advise how to help improve the sustainability of the organisation.

Winners will be chosen for their ability to take account of local conditions, the quality of their revenue and non-revenue generating ideas, and the collaboration with their partner.

There will be two main stages.

Stage one: Registered teams will be given a list of 24 organisations from which they will select one community group to analyse, and will submit a short proposal.

Stage two: Shortlisted teams will then be assigned one of a handful of award-winning community groups for which they will submit a comprehensive series of recommendations after working closely with the group leader. Successful teams will be profiled by the FT.

How do I apply?

Please email to request a team registration form and further details. You can also email for support in finding team members.

The deadline to submit completed registration forms is 1 March 2013.

The deadline to submit a short proposal is 1 April 2013.

Application process:

•March: deadline for team registration forms

•April: deadline for short proposal

•May - September: shortlist published, teams assigned to work with community organisations and profiled online

•September: deadline for final recommendations

•October: winner announced

Application criteria:

Teams that apply must:

•Have between three and eight members

•Have at least one team member based in Europe, a second in the Americas and a third in Africa or Asia

•Have at least one student studying for an MBA at the point of registration, although other participants may be from other disciplines and / or graduates

Contact details:

If you have any questions, please email

Get alerts on Asia when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2022. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window) CommentsJump to comments section

Follow the topics in this article