2020 EFMD Case Writing Competition Winners Interview Series: Responsible Business

EFMD encourages and rewards innovative and impactful cases in management development each year. This year brought an exceptional variety of winning cases across various industries. EFMD decided to interview the winners to find out more about their motivation, inspiration and significant challenges.

The following interview is with Rachida Justo (IE University), Caroline Tilden (IE University Alumni), Krystyna Liakh (IE University Alumni) and Mona Müller (IE University Alumni/ Senovo), the winning authors in the “Responsible Business” category.

The 2021 edition of the EFMD Case Writing Competition is now open for submissions. Find out more on the webpage and submit your case.

Mosabi: Gathering Forces for Social Change

Mosabi is an app-based solution addressing the lack of financial literacy education and financial inclusion for informal sector entrepreneurs in Africa. Mosabi’s platform blends fintech and edtech to bring emerging market citizens the skills and services to manage their businesses and money better.

Could you share with us what the greatest inspiration for your case was?

There were many inspiring aspects about Mosabi. First, this start-up brought an innovative solution to a lingering problem in many developing countries: the financial exclusion of small business owners. Its multi-sided platform was also helping banks by reducing the cost of onboarding and the perceived risk of lending to people at the Base of the Pyramid (BOP). In that sense, we could have analyzed the case from many interesting management angles that go beyond those addressed in our teaching note.

However, at the time we started being interested in this company, two of the five members who composed its management team decided to leave the company. Nowadays, Mosabi has a growing and stable staff, but at the time, and as would have been the case for any start-up, replacing those who had left was key to its survival.

Also, Mosabi was a social enterprise, so finding the appropriate recruits who could seamlessly integrate its hybrid culture and values might represent an additional challenge. In fact, social enterprises face unique dilemmas in attracting and retaining talent because of their hybrid logic. Our experience teaching and working closely with many social entrepreneurs worldwide showed us that, although there were no ‘ready-to-wear’ staffing models, many companies were already adopting novel formal and informal Human Resources Management practices.

Yet, business school students are currently given little exposure to these dilemmas and potential mechanism to solve them. The lack of cases addressing this subject prompted us to leverage Mosabi to elicit a class discussion on it.

What were the major challenges in designing the case?

The main challenge was to design a relevant Teaching Note that addresses the main tension described in the case, Mosabi’s hiring challenge. Except for the few studies cited in our teaching note, there was scarce scientific literature on the subject. Also, adapting it to the profile of business school students was also challenging.

Typically, young students who come to our business school and are excited about social entrepreneurship come with the misconception that most people embrace hybrid values.

Typically, young students who come to our business school and are excited about social entrepreneurship come with the misconception that most people embrace hybrid values. They feel comfortable in an organizational culture where employees are held to high standards on both economic and social accounts. However, the reality is that “hybrid employees” are still rare, and training them into this dual logic takes time. Therefore, we had to make them aware of this situation and lead them to think about ways to address this challenge.

In what ways, according to you, could the case impact society and business in the near future?

We see the case having two main potential impacts: first, we hope it can help develop student’s awareness of the power of entrepreneurship to address Sustainable Development Goals and create sustainable and social value. Secondly, for those already considering the possibility to create or work for a social enterprise, it should help give them the necessary tools to address issues related to Human Resources Management practices, scaling strategy and measuring the organization’s impact.

The Sponsor’s Commentary

The category “Responsible Business” is kindly sponsored by School of Business, The American University in Cairo (AUC). EFMD greatly values the sponsorship, the expertise and the effort of the sponsor to contribute to the Case Writing Competition.

Shereen Mounir from El-Khazindar Business Research and Case Center, the AUC School of Business, shares more information about sponsoring the category.

Why is case writing & teaching on the topic of “Responsible Business” important? And what are the reasons that the AUC School of Business is encouraging case writing on the topic by sponsoring the category?

Writing and teaching case studies on responsible business are becoming increasingly important and an essential part of business education. This is why the American University in Cairo School of Business was delighted to sponsor the “Responsible Business” track at the 2020 EFMD Case Writing Competition through the school’s very own El-Khazindar Business Research and Case Center’s (KCC).

This comes in line with the various efforts done by the school to shed more light on responsible business at the local, regional and international levels.

AUC professors use case studies as a learning tool to spark conversations between students and help them develop analytical and critical thinking.

As one of the school’s main focus areas, the sponsorship is part of its commitment towards knowledge creation and dissemination and supporting the learning process by offering new and exciting teaching material. AUC professors use case studies as a learning tool to spark conversations between students and help them develop analytical and critical thinking. Integrating practices of responsible business through case studies help students develop ethical leadership skills and embrace good corporate citizenship.

This is also in alignment with KCC’s mission to promote the development and usage of quality case studies. The track sponsorship shows the importance given to experiential learning and the development of case studies as a pedagogical tool.

About Sponsorship

Each year, more than 14 institutions sponsor categories in the EFMD Case Writing Competition. The choice of category, its exact definition and any specific conditions are the privileges of the sponsor. Sponsorships for the following categories are currently available – Bringing Technology to Market, Continuous Improvement: The Journey to Excellence, and MENA Business Cases. If you are interested in sponsoring the mentioned categories or launching a new category relevant to case writing and teaching, please contact Hansol Park at hansol.park@efmdglobal.org.

More information about the 2020 EFMD Case Writing Competition can be found on the EFMD Global Case Writing Competition page.

Please visit the Case Centre’s webpage to access the collection of the winning cases.