Mendoza School of Business

Business on the Frontlines

There’s sprucing up a languishing company, and then there’s dropping into war zones and helping to rebuild entire economies. Forbes, The 10 Most Innovative Business School Classes

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Be A Force For Good

Cardinal O’Hara, the founder and first dean of the College of Business, famously said “commerce can and does advance civilization.” At Notre Dame, we take this to heart and why we weave lessons on societal impact into our courses as much as bottom line impact. No class at Notre Dame embodies this ethos more than Business on the Frontlines. Business on the Frontlines (BOTFL) examines the impact of business in societies affected by extreme poverty and conflict. As a course in the Notre Dame MBA program, BOTFL provides opportunities for students and alumni to engage and partner with non-profit organizations and multi-national companies to work together to rebuild societies after war and help prevent their reversion to conflict..

BOTFL examines the impact of business in post-conflict settings. Not limited to multi-disciplinary course work in the classroom, graduate students and faculty from across the University of Notre Dame work directly on business and peace-related projects with partners in the field, primarily international humanitarian organizations. Many BOTFL projects focus on agriculture, infrastructure and mining, as these economic sectors can frequently absorb large numbers of unskilled young men after conflict. Our projects have also extended to micro-finance, youth unemployment, post-civil war reconciliation, business incubators, health and nutrition, human trafficking, child prostitution, and disaster preparedness.

Since 2008, BOTFL teams have worked on nearly fifty such projects in almost thirty countries including Bosnia, Lebanon, Kenya, Uganda, Egypt, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Senegal, Lesotho, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, Cambodia, Mindanao in the Philippines, Indonesia, East Timor, and Sri Lanka. By the estimates of one of our partners, thousands of young men now have livelihoods that would not have had opportunities had it not been for our work in the field.

The challenge may be great; the road to travel may be far. Nevertheless, never underestimate the human dignity associated with a good day’s work, particularly for those who have come through conflict.