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For decades, Angola’s government has focused on its natural resources as its number one commodity. Now, however, there is a paradigm shift that may have an even greater potential — the country’s young people.
In cooperation with Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), a leading Swiss business school that has recently earned the AACSB International business accreditation, Angola wants to train select students in international business and start a new phase of economic development.
But can the formation of a new financial elite be enough for lasting change in a country that is still inherently poor?
Of course not, says Jose Filament Dos Santos, a representative from the Angolan sovereign wealth fund Fundo Soberano de Angola (FSDEA), which is funding the project. “But we firmly believe that you have to start somewhere, and it’s best to get going in an area where it will have a big impact.”
Other countries have already seen the benefit of investing in education and a younger generation, but it is no small step for a country whose majority still live in abject poverty.
The focus-shift of the FSDEA, from the investment in real estate to the social sector, justifies Dos Santos with the growing investment interest for years from foreign companies:
“In order to understand and draw up major contracts in international business that will bring in long-term revenues not only for investors, but also for the country and its people, Angola needs experts.”
Enter the ‘Future Leaders of Angola,’ a six-month executive program that offers Angolan students advanced training in management at an international level.
A statement released by the ‘Future Leaders of Angola‘ reads, “We believe [the graduates] will produce a noticeable effect, not least because they will pass on what they have learnt in their future jobs in Angola.”
For its part, the university said it sees the course as a chance for students to contribute to an improvement in its citizens’ lives.
“In the curriculum, we put a lot of emphasis on topics such as corporate responsibility, compliance and corruption, and give the participants greater awareness of these issues,” stresses Daniel Seelhofer, head of the Department of International Business at ZHAW.
While proponents understand the program and the selection of students according to “purely objective criteria” will have its challenges, ultimately it could move the country forward in ways it never thought possible — until now.