Education

Ildeniz Armutak, Istanbul University, Institute of Business Admin

Should an MBA be more practice-based? Blogger Ildeniz is concerned that the quantitative classes in the programme are not really necessary Read more

Maria Karaivanova

Imagine: You are nine years old. You go to school. It’s winter. You enter the unheated classroom and sit in your chair or on the floor. And then you start your daily lessons… But wait – you don’t have anything to write on. You don’t have a desk…

Today, I had a life altering experience. I helped with a Lapdesk handover ceremony in King Zwelithini Primary School in Soweto (a Johannesburg township only 20 minutes away from the city’s glossy financial district). The students, wearing tidy green uniforms, were waiting for us with such excitement on their faces, singing and dancing to greet us.

A warm welcome by the school choir

Our client and the Lapdesk team unveiled the surprise – 385 colourful, new Lapdesks stacked in neat piles, waiting to find an owner. For many of the children, this will be the first new thing they’ve ever owned. Theirs to take home and do homework, theirs to use at school every day.

Jacob Ramaru, Lapdesk’s National Field Operations Manager, led the ceremony. He is a master at that – the kids were laughing and reciting after him in four different languages – incredibly inspiring to watch! The dreams and energy warmed up the classroom – future lawyers, doctors, accountants and presidents shared aspirations in one voice! (Engineers were not as numerous…)

Jacob talking to the students

Now, what exactly is a handover ceremony? Read more

Maria Karaivanova

Everyone goes to Harvard Business School eager to start their business careers. Not me, at least not yet. This summer I decided to volunteer in Africa before setting off to a full-time job.

Lapdesks in action

Lapdesks in action

I am writing from Johannesburg, South Africa where I’m working at a company called Lapdesk.

I first heard of Lapdesk on my first day of class at Harvard when I was handed a case study about the company. And I was confused. I was at Harvard Business School. I expected to learn about a Fortune 500 company or a famous CEO. Why were we focused on a South African company whose goal was to eradicate classroom desk shortages throughout Africa by manufacturing ergonomically designed Lapdesks made out of high quality recyclable plastic?

What is ergonomically? Good question – they’re shaped like kidney beans and have a comfortable handle.

After an inspiring discussion, combined with a 20 minute video conference with the founder, Shane Immelman, I realised why. There are 80 million children throughout Africa without a desk. That is a huge business opportunity. Lapdesk is addressing this social problem, with a dynamic private sector proposition. Read more