Despite immense ongoing challenges, Karim Seghir describes how a business school in the Arab region is continuing its quest to make a positive impact on its locality.
If the popular uprisings in the Arab region have taught us one thing, it is that in an environment that focuses solely on maximising shareholder value we cannot expect individuals to care about other values such as sustainability nor about the socio-economic challenges the region is facing, including poverty, corruption and inequality.
To foster a sustainable and value-oriented society, management education must work on developing responsible business leaders, shifting the culture from one of pure market capitalism, profit maximisation and perpetual growth to one that upholds and values the role of business in society, sustainable development and stakeholder interests.
The impact of business schools that instil these values in their students will be seen when future leaders make ethical decisions that take into account multiple factors aside from profit and which will benefit the community as a whole.
Driven by its mission to develop responsible leaders who can make a difference, the School of Business at the American University in Cairo (AUC) has become the MENA Chapter Co-ordinator of the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME). It is also an active member of prominent associations such as the Academy of Business in Society (ABIS), the Egyptian Corporate Responsibility Center and
the Bottom of the Pyramid Global Network.
Furthermore, AUC is the first university in the Arab region to publish its Carbon Footprint Report, which enables it not only to manage its impact responsibly but also to serve as a model encouraging others to address climate change.
As a leading regional business school with a global influence, the AUC School of Business trains responsible agents of change who will make a positive impact on their communities.
In forging the pathway for the future, business schools should aim at addressing contemporary issues of international relevance and deeply rooted regional significance.
One of the most pressing challenges the Arab region is currently facing is unemployment. With almost three million young people entering the job market in the region annually, over 100 million new jobs need to be created by the year 2020.
A sustainable and viable solution to this rising challenge of unemployment is a well-directed entrepreneurship ecosystem. In 2010, AUC School of Business launched the Center for Entrepreneurship mandated to educate citizens in the Arab region as to what entrepreneurship is and to infuse them with the desire to create and innovate.
The school is working on entrepreneurship in Africa as well by launching the African Academic Association on Entrepreneurship (AAAE), which includes six universities in Africa.
AAAE aims to build linkages among African business schools focusing on teaching and research in the areas of entrepreneurship and family business.
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