Social Impact: South Africa 2020

Balancing Financial Return with Social Impact

Students take a deeper look at the social challenges and market opportunities in South Africa during this GIM trip

Social Impact: South Africa provides students with a broad introduction to the unique opportunities and challenges of designing and analyzing business models—either for-profit or not-for-profit—that create positive societal or environmental impact.

Course Description

Global Initiatives in Management (GIM) Social Impact is a course designed to provide students with a broad introduction to the unique opportunities and challenges of designing and analyzing business models – either for-profit or not-for-profit – that create positive societal or environmental impact. During the course, students will gain broad exposure to a variety of organizations that have deliberately designed their organization for social impact and will analyze how and where financial return is compatible with social impact.

In addition, students will have the opportunity to look in-depth at the social challenges and market opportunities in one country: South Africa. South Africa’s economy has grown rapidly since the end of apartheid almost 25 years ago and is now the second largest economy on the African continent. Despite the rising middle class, however, South Africa remains one of the most unequal countries in the world. Unemployment rates are high at 25%, which is twice the regional average and four times the global average. All state-owned enterprises and private businesses with revenues over 10 million South African rand (approximately $720K in US dollars) are subject to the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act, a government initiative aimed at increasing the economic participation of black South Africans.

Students will work in teams on research projects that analyze one business sector in depth. The class will travel to Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa, during spring break in March to conduct field research and interviews and meet leading social impact organizations.

Course objectives:

  • In order to achieve a robust understanding of organizations operating in the sector, students will be exposed to a broad range of companies and NGOs applying business models to driving social impact
  • Students will learn frameworks for analyzing an organization’s potential for creating social impact and apply those frameworks to companies in class and during the in-country experience as a means to better understand and compare across companies and organizations
  • Students will develop a deeper understanding of the cultural and business context in South Africa 
  • Students will exercise their skills in navigating and extending their personal and professional networks to establish meaningful in-country connections and meetings
  • Students will reflect upon the reading, class discussions and guest speakers, and in-country meetings to extract key insights and apply these insights to their final projects and their personal and/or professional experiences moving forward


Last updated: 09/22/2019


Last Updated: 10/22/2019

Faculty and Advisor Bios

Faculty Bio

William Towns is a scholar, activist and practitioner, dedicated to helping solve civic and urban issues at the structural level. William is the Executive Director of Benefit Chicago, one of the first please based impact investment collaborations in the country, bring together The Chicago Community Trust, The MacArthur Foundation and Calvert Impact Capital to mobilize $100 million in impact investments targeting the social enterprise sector in the Chicago region.

He came to Benefit Chicago from the University of Chicago, where he was an Assistant Vice President and led the Office of Civic Engagement’s Anchor Strategies. In this role, his work focused on building community and civic partnerships. He also specialized in developing faculty-led community research projects, cultivating student engagement opportunities, and managing local government relations. Many of the projects William spearheaded were designed to improve the quality of life on the South Side of Chicago in areas of education, housing, public safety, business diversity, job creation and community engagement planning for university development projects.

William has served as one of the architects of the University of Chicago's model of civic engagement, as a part of this work he, lead the office of Civic Engagements first anchor strategic plan. This plan looked to encourage and support businesses hiring locally, deepening the engagement with the arts and cultural institutions, support research that advances the understanding of evidence-based interventions at a systemic level and advancing campus developments that contribute to the sustainability of a shared community. He was a part of the community engagement campaign along with university senior leaders, community partners, and other key stakeholders that secured the siting of the Obama Presidential Center.

He received his BA from Loyola University Chicago, an MBA from the University of Notre Dame, and a Ph.D. from Benedictine University, where his research in organizational psychology focuses on corporate social responsibility. Dr. Towns believes his goal is to use research to help cities, anchor institutions, and nonprofits to develop policies and initiatives that welcome those who stand just outside the door of opportunity to the table of prosperity.

Advisor Bio

Minya Nance is the Director of Strategic Student Experience and has been at Kellogg for 6 years. In her role, she is focused on diversity, equity and inclusion at Kellogg. Her work helps to identify ways to foster inclusion at Kellogg and design and execute cross-cultural leadership development opportunities. Prior to this role she served as Director of Admissions Operations, creating the strategy and leading the operational execution of creating a seamless admissions process for applicants. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Miami University and a Master of Science in Social Administration degree from Case Western Reserve University.

Minya has a deep dedication towards her own development and the development of others to better understand and leverage diverse perspectives, experiences and backgrounds to enhance the communities and organizations that they serve. She is thrilled with the opportunity to serve as an advisor this year for Kellogg’s GIM trip to South Africa.

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