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SBF Buddy Project

SBF buddies up on International Business Research project 

Business is an increasingly globalised field, and one that demands an understanding of both international markets, and the ability to collaborate with partners often from very different cultures. That's why UWC's School of Business and Finance will be participating in the University of Groningen's Buddy Project in April and May 2014.

Every year, as part of its International Business Research collaboration, the University of Groningen's Faculty of Business and Economics, based in the Netherlands, sends students out to conduct field research for Dutch companies trying to understand the dynamics of emerging markets. This year, 25 final-year Bachelors and Masters students (along with supervising professors) are visiting Cape Town for 5 weeks and working with UWC students to find out more about the South African economy and culture, and ways of doing business.

Five senior SBF students have been selected to participate in the programme: Masters students Emmanuel Fongwa, Geare Botes and Mugammad Carlie, as well as Honours student, Lwazi Ncoliwe, and Postgrad Diploma student, Siphokuhle Hadebe. From Monday 14 April they have been interacting with their University of Groningen colleagues via phone, email and Skype, and will meet up with them in Cape Town between 11 and 17 May 2014.

Students will be gathering information on competitors and customer behaviour, arranging interviews with appropriate companies, and searching for companies or institutions that might provide useful information – and ultimately writing research reports that will provide an understanding of local and international markets, and remove any cultural and linguistic barriers which may exist.

Carlie is already working on researching trends in the pork industry with his Buddies. “This project is a great learning experience,” he says. “I’m especially excited that I get to make a difference in a company, and work with people from different cultures and backgrounds.”

Ncoliwe is also excited about the experience: “I’m most interested in the stage when we conduct actual interviews with the companies. The exposure and knowledge gained in this whole process can hardly be measured.”

“These Finance students show great enthusiasm for the project,” says Prof Andy Hsieh, Head of UWC's School of Business and Finance. “They possess excellent analytical skills and are also great communicators. I am certain they will add value to the Buddy Project for company research in Cape Town.”

The Buddy Partnership is a mutually beneficial relationship. Participants (both local and Dutch) will be exposed to a great inter-cultural experience, gain international business research experience, and learn to view the South African market from an international perspective – improving the quality of their research, and unquestioningly aiding in future business dealings.

The collaboration is just the start of many international collaborations to come. “Since the School of Business and Finance's Team Youdubs won the 2013 South African JSE/Liberty Investment Challenge, the Finance division has become even more well-known for its rigorous research-intensive curricula,” notes Prof Hsieh. “The Buddy Project is a wonderful opportunity to showcase UWC's talents and encourage international understanding, and I'm sure our students will rise to the occasion.