Two African companies hosting MIT Global Entrepreneurship Lab projects

Based on their business models, growth potential, and successes to date, two African companies—Africa’s Talking and Azalaï Hotels—have been selected to host Global Entrepreneurship Laboratory (G-Lab) projects in collaboration with MIT Sloan School of Management, founder of the international program.

Teams of MBA students from MIT Sloan—one of the world’s top-ranked business schools—will be working on-site at these companies throughout January to provide them with high-impact insight and analysis.

Since 2000, MIT Sloan’s G-Lab teams have worked on business problems with more than 375 host companies around the globe located in emerging markets in critical areas such as strategic growth, new market entry, pricing, marketing, benchmarking, fundraising, and financial strategy. In the process, the MBA students gain real-world experience in creating, developing and running young enterprises with diverse economic infrastructures as well as thinking about the role of politics, culture, and other non-economic variables.

This year, more than 30 projects are taking place across South America, Asia and Africa.

“We have worked with entrepreneurs across Latin America for nearly twenty years,” says MIT Sloan Prof. Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund and G-Lab co-founder. “These men and women are remarkably resilient – and offer great prospects for the future. It is a privilege—and an education—for our students to find ways to be helpful. Everyone returns to the United States impressed with the energy and intensity of the CEOs in these companies.”

This year’s projects in Africa are:

Africa’s Talking

Africa’s Talking (AT) is a leading pan-African provider of Platform as Services (PaaS) solutions. AT’s cloud-based platform enables developers and businesses across Africa to integrate messaging, voice, and payment capabilities into their apps via easy-to-use application programming interfaces. The objective of this G-Lab project is to create a valuation model of the software developer community in Africa, involving assessing the number of current and future developers on the Continent and building a pricing model. Samuel Gikandi, CEO, received his Master of Engineering from MIT in 2006 and Bilha Ndirangu, Chief Commercial Officer, received her Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from MIT the same year.

Azalaï Hotels

Azalaï Hotels is a West African hotel chain launched in Mali in 1994. Its mission is to become a leading hotel chain in Africa managed by African people and meeting international standards. Azalaï has recently engaged in a strong growth: four more hotels are currently being developed in the region and three hotels are in prospection which may eventually double Azalaï’s current capacity in the next few years. Currently, over 90% of Azalai’s revenue is generated by direct bookings, i.e. phone calls and direct emails. Our project goal is to determine how can Azalaï increase its revenue generated from direct digital channels such as its website and social media from 0-1% of current revenues to 5% in the next year.

The MIT Sloan students’ off-site work on these G-Lab projects began in September 2018 and will culminate in February 2019 with a final, in-depth analysis. The teams’ final deliverables will include a formal presentation and concrete “leave behinds” that deliver high-impact tools, which host companies can put to use immediately.

G-Lab is one of 15 pioneering Action Learning labs available to students at MIT Sloan. While project activities vary, they are united by common themes, including experiential, reflective, and peer learning; faculty mentoring; real-world problem solving; knowledge transfer; and, perhaps unique to MIT Sloan, a student team engagement intended to have a measurable business and/or social impact. These real-time management challenges bring theory to life.

The MIT Sloan School of Management, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, is one of the world’s leading academic sources of innovation in management theory and practice. With students from more than 60 countries, it develops effective, innovative, and principled leaders who advance the global economy. To learn more, please visit:


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