Programmes and Projects

Making a difference together

Together we invest our passion, time, and talent in programmes and projects that can make a difference in the lives of others, the communities in which they reside, and the organisations they lead. This encompasses the We in the responsible leadership framework of Me, We, All of Us.

Small Business Academy

Through the Small Business Academy (SBA), USB gives life to its vision of meaningful engagement with society by contributing knowledge from its area of expertise — business education.

The Small Business Academy aims to improve the businesses, and therefore the lives, of small business owners in low-income communities. This is achieved through the sharing of knowledge that enhances the business skills of small business owners during a 9-month development programme. Alumni of the SBA Development Programme are further supported by the SBA Growth Initiative.

The SBA also undertakes research on small business development.

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Management programme for NPOs

The Management Programme for Non-profit Organisations (NPOs) is a social impact initiative, which aims to develop current or aspiring NPO managers who have no formal qualifications in management.

The programme’s objective is to promote social development in South Africa by enhancing managerial effectiveness, service delivery, and good governance in the NPO sector. Corporates committed to the development of human capital are invited to fund those NPOs who are supported through social initiatives.

This programme is a joint initiative of the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB), the USB Alumni Association, and USB Executive Development (USB-ED).

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USB, USB Executive Development (USB-ED), and the Institute for Futures Research (IFR) celebrate Africa Day annually with a special lecture on Africa’s future.

Casual Day may be an opportunity for staff and students at USB to dress down (or up, as the case may be), but the primary goal of the day when USB hosted the event in 2017 was to generate awareness and discussion that support people with disabilities.

Staff members and students participate in a number of activities to honour former president Nelson Mandela’s legacy on Mandela Day. These activities include the Stellenbosch Youth Outreach programme, assisting at the Steinthal Children’s Home, events at the Discourse Cafe, and Read to Lead.

As part of engaged learning, MBA and MPhil in Development Finance students assist small business owners from low-income areas such as Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain with business plans and other forms of support and research in this field.

Our MBA students do an engagement project with NPOs in order learn from how they implement the Sustainable Development Goals and to reflect on what that means for being a responsible leader and steward of society.

Building ethical leadership capacity for society


During the course of 2017 USB and the Wittenberg Centre for Global Ethics (WCGE) agreed to embark on an International Business Ethics Leadership Colloquium, the first part of which would be held in South Africa and the second in Germany. The generosity of the Friede Springer Stiftung made the initiative financially possible.

The WCGE’s participation in this colloquium is based on the belief that we live and work in a time in which new forms of cooperation between business and societal stakeholders have become essential and for which new competencies and skills, going well beyond purely financial expertise, are needed. USB’s participation is motivated by the conviction that ethics and integrity, as attributes of leadership, have become a central concern in both public and private sectors across Africa, and further afield in a global setting.

Now imagine a Sunday afternoon in Stellenbosch where twenty people, unbeknown to another before, come together to start this colloquium. They represent South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Nigeria. They are senior people from business, government and academia. They are taken on a brief guided tour in which they learned about the town’s early history, its Dutch and English colonial roots and its engagement with slavery. With this the scene was set for a jam packed week, 15-19 April, of deliberations on ethical leadership in the context of the business-society relationship.

The first theme to be covered was the role of constitutional values in the transition to an ethical society and the appeal it makes on business organisations and their leaders to play their part as well. Secondly followed a conversation on the business – civil society relationship in building an ethical country. Lastly, the participants engaged with the challenges around shaping sustainable business in an emerging economy. Thought leadership by leading experts and role models evoked meaningful conversations. Practical work sessions provided tools and built skills for application in practice. Learning journeys took us to places where the group could engage with inspiring examples of ethical leadership and business responsibility in practice.

From the many highlights on the programme, two of the learning journeys may well be singled out as very meaningful for the group. The first was a visit to the District Six Museum in Cape Town where participants could learn more about the displacement of people and disruption of community life in the apartheid years. Pictures and artefacts in the museum amplified the pain of the past and the imperative to protect and live our constitutional values in the present. From the inside of the museum we walked the streets on the outside and learned more about feeding schemes and urban agriculture for the poor and homeless.



The second highlight was the journey to Du Toitskloof Winery and the Fairhilss Fairtrade project. Since 2005, wine farms in the Breedekloof Valley, formed an initiative which would change the fate and create a new future for farm workers and their families. The colloquium participants were truly inspired by what can be achieved when farmers and workers together envision a future of good education for children, a commitment to health and safety and good medical care, decent wages and proper housing. Change is possible and the South Africa we dream about, can work.



The German leg of the programme is yet to come, but the participants already concluded that their initial ambiguity has turned into hopefulness. An ethical society becomes possible where leaders play their part in living constitutional values.

Building leadership capacity for non-profit organisations

USB has a long tradition of social sector involvement. We are a convening space where non-profit organisations do workshops and conferences. We offer a management development short course for people who lead and manage the organisations. Our MBA students do a Business in Society assignment in which they learn about leadership and societal stewardship from these organisations. Each syndicate in USB-ED’s Senior Management Development Programme do an action learning assignment with a non-profit organisation. It is therefore no wonder that we started dreaming about the next step on this journey, namely, to develop a formal academic qualification that could benefit those who govern, lead and manage non-profit organisations.

In 2017, our vision was boosted by a grant from Stellenbosch University with which we could take this work to the next level. It enabled us to bring together a group of South African and international experts to build a leadership development programme, for professionals in the social sector, that will be relevant and fit for the challenges of the 21st century. On 12 and 13 April 2018 this group gathered at Stias in Stellenbosch to further consolidate their ideas and make recommendations on what a postgraduate qualification in leadership development for non-profit organisations can look like.



Discussions at the workshop engaged with the context in which non-profit organisations work, the challenges they face in delivering on their mandates, the stakeholders they need do collaborate with and the leadership competencies which have to be developed in order to make them more effective. Our conversations were richly endowed by academic research from Africa, the USA and Europe and by insights from seasoned practitioners in the field who have made the capacity building of the social sector their mission in life.



One could well ask why a business school should occupy itself with this kind of work. At USB we do this for two reasons. We firstly believe in the indispensable value of non-profit organisations for social cohesion and sustainability without which no society can function properly. Secondly, we believe that the leadership and management education that we do should not only be for the benefit of business and government, but for social sector organisations and professionals as well. We recognise that the distinctive challenges of the social sector require special treatment and therefore deserve a dedicated programme of capacity building.

This is a work in progress, but for now we can confidently say “Watch this space”.

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Dr Armand Bam
Head of Social Impact
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: 021 918 4252

Esther Franszen
Programme and Project Coordinator
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: 021 918 4483