“It’s all traditional industry investing.”
“The country of Africa is corrupt.”
“Unsophisticated consumers sit at the bottom of the pyramid.”
These are the kinds of misconceptions that drive us crazy.
A Ugandan working in finance and a Texan working in strategy, we both showed up at business school eager to shift attitudes about how the business sector interacts with emerging markets. Along with a group of classmates similarly interested in filling this gap in the conversation, we made it our mission to launch an emerging markets conference at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.
Why should business students care about emerging markets? Because the world economy will double in size by 2042, and according to the International Monetary Fund, more than 70% of the incremental global growth will come from emerging markets. Consider Kenya’s M-Pesa introducing e-transfers to the previously unbanked, or China’s Alibaba transforming the e-commerce experience. There are staggering implications for wealth creation, as noted by our professor Anant Sundaram.
The lines between industries continue to blur and there is tremendous business opportunity in understanding the human experience of unfamiliar consumers. “Emerging markets” is not merely an asset class and it certainly is not a charity sector. Cultural incongruencies and informal market dynamics can be new territory for some business school students–we recognized that and seized an opportunity.
EMERGING MARKETS CONVERSATION JUST GETTING STARTED
Leveraging the resources around us and the enthusiasm of our peers, we drew from the brain power and networks of Tuck students, Dartmouth undergraduates, engineering students, and faculty from across campus to establish a slate of speakers and series of panels that covered multiple dimensions of the emerging markets conversation. We launched a case competition in partnership with PepsiCo India, and students had the opportunity to present recommendations on a real-world business challenge regarding the nuances of branding in the Indian CPG market. This inaugural conference was a chance to highlight how emerging markets touch every functional area of business — from investing in capital markets to reverse innovation in healthcare.
The conference just wrapped up and our energy regarding the topic may have hit an all-time high. Our favorite takeaways:
There is opportunity in chaos. The obstacles that intimidate investors often present unique chances to revolutionize how the market operates. Our keynote speaker, Himanshu Saxena, noted that India might bypass mass car ownership and head straight for metros and hyperloops. Think about what that means for investments and the future of the country.
Create markets by serving non-consumers. Mobile payment platforms, for example, have allowed African businesses to enjoy a lift in revenues by providing access to previously inaccessible, unbanked customer segments. East Africans adopted e-money transfers years before Venmo launched in America.
The power of showing up. No photo, no article, no conference can do justice to the reality of being on the ground. If we are truly invested in becoming global business leaders, then we need to align our interests with emerging markets. Only through empathic design can we find these common roots. Go there; show up.
Muyambi is a Ugandan-born, internationally educated civil engineer who is second-year MBA student at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. Prior to Tuck, he worked for Clark Construction. Muyambi is the founder of Bicycles Against Poverty, a social enterprise that finances bicycles for smallholder farmers and entrepreneurs in rural Uganda, and the lead student co-chair of Tuck’s inaugural Emerging Markets Conference. He is also managing director of the Tuck Social Venture Fund. Muyambi is particularly interested in private equity, venture capital, and infrastructure in Africa.
Siena was born and raised in Texas, and spent several years living and working across Africa. Most recently she worked in South Africa as global insights manager for Projects Abroad, a social enterprise connecting highly skilled volunteers to worthwhile projects across emerging markets. At Tuck she is student ambassador for African countries and a founding member of the Emerging Markets Conference. After Tuck she will join the strategy team at Frog Design. Siena loves thinking about consumer experience, retail service design, and protein bars.