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From Africa to India, MBA Consulting Students Expand Maryland Companies’ Global Reach

Aug 16, 2018
Experiential / Reality-based Learning

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The Center for Global Business (CGB) at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business concluded a second successful year of the Maryland Global Export Consulting (MGEC) program. The program is meant to serve as a resource for Maryland companies engaging in the global marketplace by offering them the opportunity to work with a team of the school’s MBA or undergraduate students to address challenges their company is facing in going global. The program is a collaboration between the CGB and the Maryland Department of Commerce. This year, three companies were matched with three MBA teams.

Smith MBA students Elcin Chang, Mozella Williams and Andrew Sakhaee consulted with Vasoptic, an early stage medical device company located in Baltimore, Md., on a market assessment between India and China, and ultimately an entry strategy for India. Vasoptic’s mission is to develop affordable, innovative medical diagnostics that specialize in blood flow and vascular status. The client sought these particular markets to potentially export their device because of its suitability for developed and emerging markets. Kenyon Crowley, deputy director for the Smith School's Center for Health Information and Decision Systems (CHIDS), was the faculty advisor on the project and assisted the student team in developing an assessment based on ten variables of comparison and accompanied the team to India to conduct primary research to inform their market entry strategy. The team presented their findings in May to Abhishek Rege, Vasoptic’s CEO. He was ultimately pleased with the results his company received through the program. “It allows companies with limited resources to gain critical insight into international expansion. Once the merit is established at a high level, a company may be able to push for a deeper dive into the detailed strategy,” he said.

Kenyon Crowley, Elcin Chang, Mozella Williams, Andrew Sakhaee and Amit Guruprasad meet with key medical stakeholders during their in-country primary research.

Rife International LLC, a company headquartered in Maryland that provides energy efficiency, renewable energy and construction services, worked with MBA students Elizabeth Dow and Osei Yiadom to expand their renewable energy pursuits to Africa; and, in particular, Ghana. The specific scope of the project was to conduct a feasibility study of Rife’s proposed energy-efficiency pilot program targeting secondary and tertiary educational institutions in Ghana. The purpose behind their pilot program is to help reduce energy costs of many Ghanaian educational institutions and therefore the tuition for students, ultimately increasing matriculation. Dow and Yiadom traveled to Accra in March to meet with key stakeholders at various universities, government ministries, and development agencies to understand the need, challenges, and opportunities that the pilot program could address. The team’s final deliverable put forth a set of recommendations on how to tailor their messaging and branding, and services to fit the market and meet each stakeholder’s motivation.

The third project of the MGEC program took two MBA students — Ja’Nel Edens and Jerry Kande — and Anandasivam Gopal, professor of information systems at the Smith School, to Tanzania for in-country research to inform their market entry plan of the country’s health IT and cybersecurity industry for Quiacle. A certified woman-owned small business from Frederick, Md., Quiacle specializes in developing information systems and information program security support for government and commercial clients. The team conducted secondary research and developed hypotheses for the market entry strategy solutions prior to their in-country travel in July. During travel to Tanzania, the team was able to confirm that Quiacle could form strategic alliances with local academic institutions to help develop human capital in the short term; and, in the long term, become a direct vendor of health IT and training. “One of my biggest takeaways from the experience was learning to navigate global business challenges by asking "how and when" rather than "why?". I learned to see the opportunities rather than what appeared as obstacles at face value,” Edens said. The best immediate advice the team provided Quiacle with was to “meet Tanzania where they are.”

Ja’Nel Edens and Jerry Kande deliver their final presentation to the Quiacle team.

All three clients of the MGEC program have indicated they intend to follow through with their assigned team's recommendations and that the program has been beneficial to their global reach and international expansion. As Rife’s CEO, Kwabena Osei-Sarpong, stated, “It is important for Maryland-based companies with global strategies to get support, and this platform provides the needed support.”

If you represent a Maryland-based company and are interested in working with an undergraduate or MBA consulting team on the Maryland Global Export Consulting Program through the CGB, visit the program page or email global@rhsmith.umd.edu

This program was funded in part by CIBER, a Title VI grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

— Marina Augoustidis, Assistant Director, CIBER Programs, Center for Global Business

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business 

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty masters, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.