MBA students’ winning pitch for Melbourne’s African community

Concern over the negative media portrayal of Melbourne’s so-called ‘African gangs’ was the impetus behind a prize-winning social initiative pitch involving Monash Business School MBA students, that formed part of Monash University’s ‘Leave No one Behind’ social business program.

Monash Business School MBA students
From left: Nibrass Hassan, Xiaoyu Yang, Irimiya Arigu Emmanuel and Ahmed Gamal Elshiekh.

Ahmed Gamal Elshiekh, who is in his second year of the MBA program, and Nibrass Hassan, in her first year of the MBA, with team mates Irimiya Arigu Emmanuel (Management PhD) and Xiaoyu Yang (Law) competed in a special pitch event held in October.

Their team, ‘One Love’ will receive $10,000 worth of start-up grants and mentoring opportunities to bring their idea to fruition, along with two other winning teams from Monash University.

All three teams will now go on to compete in the national ‘The Big Issue – The Big Idea’ competition, sponsored by PwC.

The event was the culmination of two months of workshops to hone a social business idea as part of the ‘Leave No one Behind’ program run by the Monash Sustainable Development Institute.

‘Leave No one Behind’ is a social entrepreneurship designed to teach students the ins-and-outs of social business and entrepreneurship, open to students studying within Monash’s Arts, Law, Business, Education, Art, Design and Architecture disciplines.

Underpinning the program, students learn about the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals and develop solutions via innovative social business ideas.

Teams worked through principles of entrepreneurship, prototyping, team-building and future business planning to build up to the final pitch event, held in front of front of a panel of three judges.

Mr Elshiekh’s team pitched an idea focused on facilitating sustainable businesses for African youth within the community.

He says his African background and the media portrayal of an 'African youth gang' problem in Melbourne, prompted this idea.

Part of Mr Elshiekh’s pitch involves an accelerated business mentorship for the African community.

“To win this is really validation of what we’ve been already doing,” he says. “Currently we are working with a community member to develop a kick-starter platform within the African community to fund and micro finance new projects.”

But he credits The Monash MBA program for their success.

“Without The Monash MBA program, none of this would have happened,” says Mr Elshiekh.

“As part of the program, Professor Rod Glover from the Monash Sustainable Development Institute talked to us about the obligation we have to change the world and inspired us to enter this competition.

“The Monash MBA program has opened so many doors for me, in terms of opportunities and contacts.”

Monash Business School MBA is a newly designed program that was launched in 2017. It has a focus on sustainability issues and has a series of seminars run in conjunction with the Monash Sustainable Development Institute.

“The Monash MBA opens minds to a whole new way of looking at the world,” says Dr Paul Collier, Deputy Director of the MBA program.

“It was absolutely fantastic to see our students engage with a significant social problem and apply their learning in such a positive way to really make a difference.”