Oxford Saïd Announces 2023 Cohort Of Skoll Scholars

Oxford Saïd awards a select few Skoll Scholarship each year. File photo

Five MBA Class of 2024 students will receive full-ride scholarships to the one-year program at Saïd Business School of Oxford University. The scholarships support entrepreneurs looking for solutions around creating social equity and are underwritten by the Skoll Centre and the Skoll Foundation.

Each of the five Saïd School candidates already brings impressive achievements to the table through businesses they’ve created that offer pressing services, often to marginalized communities. What’s more incredible is their innovation using technology, apps and online platforms to scale their companies and impact across several continents.

This year will mark the 20th cohort of Skoll Scholars to attend the business school, last year just four MBA students were selected. The incoming cohort will also be joining a network of around 90 Skoll alums. They will receive a full scholarship to Saïd where tuition is estimated to cost $91,698 (£71,440). and receive support from academics and entrepreneurs within the Skoll Centre community.


Saïd MBA candidate and 2023/24 Skoll Scholar Simeen Kaleem built and co-founded multiple platforms, and one in particular that uses AI to facilitate hyper-local dialogue among rural, Asian farmers. Kaleem’s tech nonprofit Gramhal is looking for ways to bring digital solutions to the agricultural community. It’s based in New Delhi, India and works with a quarter of a million farmers.

“One important lesson I have learned over the last decade is that only systemic solutions can solve problems like rural poverty, which affects over a billion people. Therefore, over the coming year at Oxford, I am excited about pivoting myself from being a social entrepreneur to a systems entrepreneur,” Kaleem says.

Another selected scholar Diana Chao founded the largest global youth-for-youth mental health non-profit, accessed through the website Letters to Strangers.

Chao is a Buyi Chinese-American immigrant whose high school experience dealing with bipolar disorder and a blinding eye disease almost ended her life. Now, Letters to Stranger is said to impact 35,000 individuals every year. She says she chose Oxford and is thrilled to join the Skolls community precisely because they share the same values.

The Skoll Foundation reportedly quadrupled its grant donations to $200 million as a result of the pandemic. It was founded by Stanford MBA grad Jeff Skoll in 1998. Forbes calculates Skoll’s net worth is around $4.2 billion.

He grew his wealth becoming the first full-time employee and president of eBay and later turned to philanthropy and various investment projects, becoming the founder of the Jeff Skoll Group. The group oversees the Capricorn Investment Group and the global media company Participant that produced the film “Spotlight” that won Best Picture in the 2016 Oscars.


Julian Gerhart, another 2024 Skoll Scholar, is a co-founder of the free, online platform called Zmudri.sk. It is designed to help students across Europe deal with responsibilities upon reaching adulthood, such as planning, critical thinking, financial literacy, job search, digital security and more.

“The Oxford MBA and Skoll Scholarship are amazing opportunities to meet incredibly inspirational people from all corners of the world who are constantly working on solving pressing social issues,” says Gerhart, who received a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and Management Communication at Aarhus University in Denmark.

To achieve her goals, Echika Obijiaku says she wanted to join a network of “like-minded social impact-focused change-makers” that make-up the community of Skoll Scholars. She is the founder and CEO of Mwanga and Yapha Academy, which uses technology across Africa to engage people in responsible use of credit through education, ethical collections, and debt management. Obijiaku is aiming to offer credit support to ten million people in Africa by 2030.

She says Saïd was her first and only choice, because of its rich curriculum, experienced faculty and strong network that includes organizations or groups like the Skoll Center.

The one-year MBA will welcome the new cohort in September. It’s ranked as one of the top business schools in the world (#13 in this year’s P&Qs International Rankings). While tuition costs around $91,698, the university estimates cost of living in Oxford, England in the upper range to be around $28,337 (£22,080) for 12 months, prices that estimate costs for food, room and board and other social or study activities.


Last year, the Saïd’s enrollment included 313 students that were 93% international and 48% female. The academic year is divided into modules and offers a conventional, business core: Accounting, Analytics, Business Finance, Firms & Markets, and Marketing. The Oxford MBA program offers a body of electives that cover topical subjects, like Business in China or Negotiations or How to Do Business in a Climate Emergency.

A fifth Skoll Scholar, Hudson Baird, says getting the Oxford MBA has been his dream ultimately since he was 16. Baird has spent his entire career as an entrepreneur focused on economic mobility. He is the co-founder and former executive director of PelotonU, which is a nonprofit focused on helping adults attain their degree.

The PelotonU team built a model that supports over 4,000 students and has seen five times the improvement of graduation rates for those they’ve helped. Baird calls the opportunity be a Skoll Scholar at Saïd as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity.

Applications for the Skoll scholarhsip for next year will open Aug. 1.

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