It is encouraging to see local business schools lending a hand to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) by providing free services that involve their undergraduates and MBA students.
For example, Baptist University's School of Business is placing its students in social enterprises in a partnership scheme with the Home Affairs Department to help sustain the non-profit sector. Last year, one MBA graduate worked with a team on a consultancy report for the Hong Kong Trans-lingual Services, a social enterprise providing translation mainly for ethnic minorities in Hong Kong.
The team spent months working with the organisation's manager in developing sustainability strategies, and came up with concrete proposals after collecting data from observations, interviews and questionnaires.
Producing creative solutions for the non-profit sector can add value to MBA training. Through working in a non-corporate environment, the team was exposed to different types of challenges, which naturally enriched their understanding of diverse market situations. The social enterprise itself, of course, benefited from free, and hopefully insightful, consultancy.
Another beneficiary was Image21, a social enterprise that provides multimedia-production services for non-profit organisations, educational institutions and small to medium-sized enterprises.
The immense need for sound business knowledge and management practices among NGOs is beyond doubt. What better platform to share insights than a collaborative project? The inputs of MBA and EMBA students, who are often seasoned executives, are highly valued.
With support from the government, social enterprises have grown in both number and influence in this city. They serve much more than simply the purpose of providing immediate relief to those in need. More importantly, they create stable, meaningful employment for the underprivileged and graduates.
MBA and EMBA degree-holders can make good potential leaders of these types of enterprise. They have much to contribute in making them sustainable in the long term, while bringing about social benefits.
The wider the contexts students apply their knowledge to, the broader their range of future career options. Of course, many senior executives of NGOs are also enrolled in MBA and EMBA programmes, sometimes backed by university scholarships.
Whatever one's background, chances for diverse exposure can provide stimulation for innovation - another important quality for leadership. Creativity lies at the root of problem-solving.
Goodwill aside, it is therefore easy to understand why students are so keen to get involved in charitable activities.
Linda Yeung is the Post’s education editor, a veteran journalist who studied in Hong Kong and abroad