April, 2010

Challenge for Charity

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Every year 9 of the top business schools located up and down the West Coast meet up at Stanford to compete on volunteer hours, fundraising and both serious and absurd sporting events in the Challenge for Charity. It’s an organization that “draws on the talents, energy and resources of MBAs to support Special Olympics and Boys & Girls Clubs to develop business leaders with a lifelong commitment to community involvement and social responsibility.” It also tends to be one of the events that truly solidifies the lifelong commitment we have to each other, our Foster community.

Many of us are still recovering from the lack of sleep and some tough athletic losses, yet basking in what was a weekend full of overwhelming school spirit. We’re a small MBA program compared to many of our fellow participants – UCLA, USC, Stanford – but we brought it unlike any of the other schools. It was obvious that we had the most pride in our school and our classmates. Whether it was cheering on first year, Cate, as she competed in the spelling bee or raging with our band as it kicked off the closing event, Battle of the Bands.

As the Challenge for Charity efforts wrap up for this academic year, Foster has raised $102,000 and volunteered nearly 1,800 hours in our community. An amazing feat and a great weekend of celebrating it, and each other.

C4C Sports Weekend

C4C Sports Weekend

Foster MBAs head to Kenya for Study Tour

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Twenty five students made up of Foster MBAs as well as other UW grad programs arrived in Nairobi, Kenya on March 14th.  Over the course of two weeks we explored Kenyan business, culture and life.  With the guidance of three knowledgeable and enthusiastic student trip leaders, we visited a variety of companies – from start ups to giants like Winafrique (renewable energy) and KenCall to Unilever, Safaricom, Barclays, Kenya Airways, and many others. We had a chance to meet amazing business leaders with degrees from Stanford Business School and from all other parts of the world.

Kenya Study Tour on the Kenya/Tanzania Border during the safari

Kenya Study Tour on the Kenya/Tanzania Border during the safari

We drove all over Nairobi to see what life was truly like in the developing world.  This included a company and site visit with Jamii Bora, Kenya’s largest microfinance firm.  The leaders of the organizations afterwards took us to Kibera (one of the two largest slums in Kenya) where we got to see microfinance funding at work and lifting people from the streets into sheltered living.  We also saw a school and an orphanage in a village outside of Nairobi which gave us a good perspective on the value that education has in Kenya, considering it has a 70% literacy rate.

In addition to businesses that we visited in Kenya, we also had plenty of cultural

Nairobi Stock Exchange

Nairobi Stock Exchange

experiences.  For example, we visited Karen Blixen’s house (the subject of Out of Africa), saw the Bomas of Kenya (where traditional Kenyan tribal dances including Barack Obama’s were performed), learned and visited an elephant orphanage, fed giraffes at the giraffe center and of course we went on a three day safari.  A part of the group also spent one morning on a hot air balloon ride over the African savanna seeing the sunrise and wild life early in the morning.  Many of us also got to try our hand at bargaining at city markets where we gifts like masks, sculptures, paintings and jewelry.

Overall, this was a once in a lifetime experience.  The feeling from the trip was that most of us could have gone on a safari on our own, but we could not have gotten an inside glimpse into a very hopeful and young economy in the developing world.  This is definitely the best part of business school for me – getting to take advantage of opportunities like this one.

Guest Blogger: Helen Seliverstov, Foster MBA Class of 2011