This month (April 2018) marks a milestone as more than 100 students are graduating from what was the largest scheme ever offered by a UK university in Africa.

Edinburgh Business School’s massive scholarship scheme launched across Africa in 2010, gave up to 250 people the opportunity to study its flagship MBA (Master of Business Administration) programme on a full scholarship. This month (April 2018) marks a milestone as more than 100 students are graduating from what was the largest scheme ever offered by a UK university in Africa.

The graduate Business School of Heriot-Watt University is committed to ensuring as many people as possible have access to business education. The African Scholarship Programme was designed to enable applicants, who otherwise might not have been able to afford MBA qualifications, to gain advanced management skills and expertise, helping them to effect change in their organisations and communities. It was launched to celebrate 20 years of activity across Africa by the world-renowned business school and the scheme continues to empower individuals across the continent.

To date 104 students have graduated with the MBA, including an engineer, Angela Msipha. Angela is the principal investigator into a study on agricultural mechanisation in Africa and has recently presented a keynote speech to experts from 18 African countries at a workshop in South Korea. She was one of 17 scholarship applicants from Zimbabwe – Angela says:

“It was such a relief and comfort to know that the program and exams were all paid for. The scholarship allowed me the opportunity to study and work in my home country and I’m already reaping the benefits of the MBA program as I implement the concepts in project management. I am greatly humbled and forever thankful for the opportunity.

“Before my MBA I’d spent three years working as a manufacturing engineer and two years in research and development. I was determined to develop softer skills such as people management and communication expertise and am now a senior research engineer at the Scientific and Industrial Research Development Centre (SIRDC) in Zimbabwe. I lead teams of engineers and scientists involved in consultancy work with government departments, non-governmental organisations, private companies and international associations.”

Students from 20 of countries across the continent applied for the African Scholarship Programme. Annie Mpagaja was one of 10 students from Malawi to be awarded a scholarship. She was determined to thrive in the financial sector after her humble beginnings on a tea farm fuelled her determination to study accounting at university, and is now a senior accountant at the Central Bank of Malawi:

“Words cannot explain the gratitude I feel. I am from a country where the cost of an MBA is nearly equal to one’s annual salary, so for me to have had the chance of attaining this prestigious award at no cost is truly awesome.

“On the other hand, the award challenged me to make an impact in the development of my country. With this opportunity, I have no excuse for not standing up and being counted among the people spearheading change in my community, industry and country.”

The scholarship scheme also benefited students from Uganda, where EBS has had a strong presence for many years. Currently there are over 1,000 business professionals studying with Edinburgh Business School in the country, and there are 680 alumni actively engaging with the School.

Peter Kavuma, one of 14 students who’ve graduated from Uganda, says the scholarship was a life-changing opportunity.

“In my country qualifications from UK universities are known for their rigour and credibility so I really wanted to have a British MBA on my CV, but I was nervous about the risks of giving up my job to study abroad full-time.

“When I researched MBA programmes, it was clear that the flexibility of Edinburgh Business School made it the perfect fit for me. I was delighted to gain a scholarship, which played a critical role in both enabling me to study and at the same time do well (we had to do well in our exams).

“Combining work and study required discipline. I studied for an hour every morning before I started work and two hours a day at the weekend. Learning with Edinburgh Business School has given my career a significant boost; as well as leadership and management tools, I’ve gained soft skills like negotiation that are just as useful in everyday life as they are at work.

“No sooner had I completed, than I got a job with Citigroup, which was a career defining moment for me. Today I’m the Country Finance Officer/Controller for Citibank Uganda Limited.”

Applications to the scholarship programme closed in 2015 and 58 students are working towards completing their MBA programme later this year.