The African Management Initiative (AMI) is leveraging technology to deliver free management education to managers and entrepreneurs across the continent through its new Virtual Campus project.
Africa has reached a turning point. No longer viewed as the hopeless continent, it has an abundance of natural wealth, its economies are growing, investment is on the rise and its population is young, large and increasingly affluent. Yet, a key ingredient is missing. Africa lacks effective and competent managers – across the private, public and NGO sectors – with the skills and competence required to translate the opportunities of the next decade into greater prosperity and a better life for all.
AMI’s vision is – a multi-stakeholder non-profit drive to transform Africa through high-quality management –for one million highly effective and responsible African managers by 2023. To realise this vision, AMI are working to extend access to management education, and to catalyse innovation in the management development space on a massive scale. Technology is playing a critical role in helping them achieve this goal.
One of the main projects is the AMI Virtual Campus, an online learning platform and community for African managers at www.africanmanagers.org. African managers and entrepreneurs can sign up to the platform for free, accessing a range of tools and resources contributed by the continent’s leading business schools and training providers, a pan-African network of like-minded managers, and an innovative online benchmarking and personal development tool that helps translate knowledge into improved on-the-job performance.
Over 2,000 managers from across the continent are using the platform every month, only a few months after its launch and more than 300 have become members of AMI, with a profile on the site that includes their ‘Management Ethos’ and ‘Personal Commitment’ to the highest management standards. AMI hopes that the Virtual Campus will quickly become a one-stop-shop for African managers to learn, seek support and network, eventually reaching hundreds of thousands of managers across the continent.
Dozens of contributors are already submitting top quality content to the AMI Virtual Campus, including leading business schools such as the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science, Lagos Business School, University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business and the United States International University in Kenya. The portal offers business schools, training providers and consultants the opportunity to showcase their products and services to managers from across the continent, in exchange for regular contributions, which might include practical tips and tools, ‘Expert View’ opinion pieces, real-life African management case studies and much more. To contribute content to the AMI Virtual Campus, and to be featured on their Marketplace of providers, please e-mail email@example.com.
While high-quality learning content is important, AMI believes the key to the project’s success will be their innovative benchmarking and personal development tool, which encourages managers to focus on actual management performance and results, not on theory. This tool is still being developed and is expected to go live later in 2013.
AMI research showed a lack of understanding around what good management actually means in an African context. The AMI tool will therefore provide a series of benchmarks to which different levels of managers can aspire. Managers use an online tool to measure current performance against these standards, and to generate a personal development plan for improvement. Successful completion of the plan – signed off by a boss, mentor and/or peer – will result in AMI certification, a standard that they expect to eventually be recognised across the continent by employers and universities.
The Virtual Campus will target African managers at all levels, with a particular focus on middle managers at large companies and senior managers at small and medium sized enterprises. Basic membership is free, with a small charge for completion of the benchmarking process and for customised offerings.
The Virtual Campus is just one aspect of AMI’s vision to transform Africa through high quality management. They are catalysing many more new approaches to empower and equip African managers through the AMI Innovation Lab. The Innovation Lab builds and shares knowledge about what works in management education in Africa, and develops and incubates new models.
Realising AMI’s vision will only be possible with commitment and collaboration across the private sector, within education, government and among donors and philanthropists. They have already partnered with several visionary organisations including the African Management Services Company, African Capacity Building Foundation, CDC Development Solutions, Results for Development Institute, United Bank for Africa and of course our founding organisations, the Association of African Business Schools, Global Business School Network, Lundin Foundation and The Tony Elumelu Foundation.
They are now looking for more companies, donors and education providers to join them as pioneers of excellent management in Africa. For more information, please contact Rebecca Harrison, AMI project director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.