Students at Henley Business School Africa have completed the seven-month Managers’ Accelerated Progression Programme (MAP+) which includes assisting selected NGOs to address challenges to facilitate solutions.

The NGOs participating in the programme were Refilwe Community Project, REPSSI, Autism SA, SABCOHA, Sparrow Schools, POWA, Empowervate, Siyaphila, Operation Hope and MES Kempton Park.

MAP+ lecturer Dr Julian Day says that in business there is not necessarily a right or wrong answer. “Contrary to what we are taught in school there can be numerous solutions to a business challenge,” he says.

As part of the training programme, MAP+ students are split into ten teams and work with selected NGOs where they identify, together with their NGO, challenges and possible solutions based on the MAP+ programme’s Action Learning Best Practices (ALBP) principles.

“ALBP prioritises challenges and encourages NGOs to develop their own solutions. Our students don’t provide solutions. They only encourage and guide the NGOs themselves to facilitate their own solutions. This could range from improving the NGOs time management to changing internal structures,” says Dr Day.

“We drive home that our students are not to be solution providers. They are tasked with facilitating the NGOs to come up with their own best answers to the challenges.”

He says the aim of the MAP+ programme is not designed only to facilitate communications but to encourage intelligent conversation that leads to value adding. “We teach the NGOs to learn their way out of a challenge and not to be dependent on the students. Our aim is to change how they think about their own organisation.”

One such example is Refilwe, a community development NGO in Lanseria. Initially Refilwe tasked their MAP+ team to assist with putting together a strategy to make their worm farm more profitable. They felt that this avenue was their most untapped resource to become a large part of their income generation. Their goal was to make Refilwe more sustainable and they felt a worm farm would help provide alternate means of cash flow.

The team however ran into some challenges and at the halfway point of the project, says Jay Strydom, donor relations manager at Refilwe, they felt that no value had been added. This started a new conversation between Refilwe and their MAP+ team in which Refilwe realised that although the worm farm was an outcome what needed to be changed was the driver.

“We realised that we need to focus more on management of processes as well as internal trust and communication. With the help of our MAP+ team we realised that the worm farm project would never be as profitable as we thought and as a result we sold it. We are now focused on sorting out our management processes and internal communication in order to take Refilwe, which is already a successful operation, from strength to strength,” says Mr Strydom.

He adds: “We have now realised the value of the business processes that the MAP+ team took us through. We have learnt to identify the drivers behind the problems we have and address them at source. We are grateful to our MAP+ team for their input and honest feedback that helped lead us to this conclusion.”

“NGOs need to think of their organisations more as a business rather than a charity. A better run and successful NGO has a better chance of raising funds,” says Sam Dreyer, Henley Africa’s action learning project manager.

“To begin the process we first meet each NGO and discuss the best way to collaborate with them. We then introduce the students to the NGOs and then closely administrate the projects. There are a number of assessments that the teams and NGOs do over the course of the project that we manage. Our greatest goal in this endeavour is to provide value and benefit into these NGOs,” she says.

“We’ve managed over 250 action learning projects with NGOs in Johannesburg for MAP+ and other Henley Exec Ed programmes and have been involved in action and immersion learning projects with Henley since 2007. In the past four years in particular we have invested much time and resources into these projects with some really impactful results. What I enjoy about these projects is that you are guaranteed a valuable learning experience for both the students and NGOs.”

Another successful NGO project was that of Regional Psychological Support Initiative (REPSSI). REPSSI is a non-profit organisation working to lessen the devastating social and emotional (psychosocial) impact of poverty, conflict, HIV and AIDS. To date REPSSI has reached over 1.9 million children across 13 African countries.

REPSSI’s biggest issue was that of their recent loss of donor funding. Their key outcome was to find out what needed to be managed to ensure that REPSSI remains sustainable.

“This process was unique as the team realised that we needed a mindset change. We could no longer be purely donor funded but rather move to being a revenue generating NGO. The biggest impact they provided was convincing us to spread this vision across our entire organisation. This led us to provide training to our staff all over Africa and therefore improve our organisation as a whole. All new procedures will now be included in our new year plans for the NGO. We are grateful to our MAP+ team for their time and expertise,” says …………., of REPSSI

Jon Foster-Pedley, dean of Henley Business School Africa, says: “We truly value the NGOs we are involved with and always seek to provide them with value. The NGOs appreciate the interaction with our MAP students. It is not often that an organisation such as Henley is willing or able to get involved with an NGO for more than ’67 Minutes’ and it is unusual for a team of corporate managers to get involved with an NGO for seven months. The NGOs appreciate the strategic intervention because they operate in professional isolation,” says

“The Executive Director of the NGO is often a social worker who has been in the sector for numerous years and is put in charge without the experience or expertise of strategically managing and running the organisation. It is also valuable for the NGOs to see themselves from a fresh perspective; each member of the MAP team brings a wealth of experience and expertise that they are able to share,” he says.

“At the heart of successful organisations lie skilled, trained and effective managers – managers whose intelligence, business acumen, continual learning and application to their work build better careers, better businesses and ultimately establish the foundations for a strong economy.”

“Often people are fairly experienced but feel they lack some of the building blocks of business or management knowledge to go further. MAP+ provides these foundations. It is a carefully designed, practical programme which helps managers to raise their game by structuring their thinking and learning new business disciplines,” says Mr Foster-Pedley.

“MAP+ is a blend of academic and practical knowledge and progressive learning design. The course develops managers and is aimed at individuals with experience in managing people, projects or processes, whether in the private, public or NGO sectors, or entrepreneurs.”

“Students practise their learning immediately within the NGO and then their organisation, applying it and reflecting on their growth. The team project, which requires students to do good for people in real time, teaches action learning methods – a powerful way to learn while doing. Apart from the social contribution the project brings, it allows students to practise and develop new knowledge and skills,” says Mr Foster-Pedley.
The MAP+ Modules cover Foundations of management and learning, Psychological literacy for manager, Mastering value and finance, Real-world economics for managers, Effective lean operations and logistics, Marketing magic – digital and real, and Deal making.