Why would we write an article listing the MBA scholarships for African students? A little known fact is that MBA Crystal Ball has helped a handful of (non-Indian) MBA applicants from Africa, USA, UK, Middle East and other regions over the years. This number is very small in comparison to the work we do with globally-settled Indians. However, the success we’ve had with the smaller, under-represented demographics has been significantly better.
One of our first clients from Africa who came to us several years back probably had an answer to why that’s happening. Here’s the backstory.
What’s the initial reaction when you get an email from a stranger based in Nigeria? Yup, we have to admit that our initial reaction was the same. We cautiously opened it to check if there was another offer for a million dollars from the legal team of a rich businessman who had just passed away with no one to inherit the fortune. Breaking the stereotype, this email came from a genuine international MBA applicant who had reached out for application help from our team after looking at many of the MBA scholarship stories on our site.
In our response, we told him honestly that we generally work with Indian applicants and we haven’t had the opportunity to help anyone from Nigeria or any other African country.
His response was interesting. He said, “I know that. We don’t have good consultants back here, and I can’t afford the exorbitant fees charged by American consultants. I’ve done my research and know that you guys work with Indian candidates and get them into the top business schools. I’ve read all the scholarship stories on your website too. I think if you can do that for candidates from the biggest and most competitive MBA applicant pool in the world, you can surely help someone like me from an under-represented category.”
We loved the response and signed him up. He got several admits and some business schools offered him scholarships.
Over the years, we went on to help other applicants from Africa. Their life and career stories were in stark contrast to the typical profiles we normally came across.
There was someone from Cameroon who had a fantastic life story and the lowest GMAT score we have come across (in the 500s). He got into a leading European business school with full scholarship. He enthusiastically volunteered to share his story on our blog, and in fact even sent us the draft along with the happiest looking photograph pulled out of his archives. But since he had shared too many personal details in it, he started having apprehensions later on how he might be judged. He requested us to drop the story. It was disappointing for us to not have such an unique and inspiring story hosted on our blog.
Top problems faced by African MBA applicants
From our interactions with African applicants, we found that many face some common issues (unlike candidates from the other regions).
1. Very low GMAT scores
Consider the countries that send GMAT scores to bschools across the world:
Looks like a huge list that demonstrates the popularity of the GMAT in the region, right? However, according to GMAC, less than 2% of the tests are reported from these countries.
While the average GMAT score in the world is around 550, for African test takers it is close to 415. The GMAT Africa business director has said that candidates in Africa are scared to take the GMAT since they think they will score low.
The cost of taking the test is another deterrent. $250 is a lot of money for many African candidates. So, not many would have the inclination to take it multiple times (to fix a low score) when the first one itself was so expensive.
2. Failure to present their stories effectively
While admission officers may overlook a low GMAT score for strong candidates, many African MBA applicants fail to convey their accomplishments and potential in their essays. And that’s a shame because many of them have very unique and intriguing dimensions in their profile that fail to get the appreciation they deserve. Connecting the dots is a bigger challenge for such applicants with unusual profiles. [Read this related post on how an Indian applicant with an unusual profile got a $60,000 MBA scholarship]
A good admissions consultant can help in putting the story together. Top quality admissions consulting can be very helpful for those who can afford it. But it’s expensive and that throws another spanner in the works, leaving applicants to do a mediocre job with the essays and interviews.
3. Lack of funds to finance the degree
The ordeal doesn’t end for those who’ve surmounted the earlier 2 problems.
Even after cracking the tough application process, a shortage of funds prevents many African students from attending top programs.
A higher GMAT score coupled with a strong application could make things easier to get MBA scholarships. But that’s precisely the Catch 22 situation that sounds the death knell for many MBA dreams in Africa.
You’ll find a common underlying theme across these challenges – severe financial constraints.
This article has been written with an objective to help MBA applicants and students from Africa who are not in a position to afford expensive MBA programs and foresee issues getting a student loan.
Region-specific MBA scholarships offered by business schools are a great way to encourage deserving MBA applicants to dream of attending their dream universities. Often, a candidate’s final choice of business school is dependent on the amount of scholarship awarded.
These scholarships may either be need-based or non-need based. The latter category may be either gender-specific or related to the candidate’s professional experience, merit or nationality among other criteria. The eligibility criteria, requirements and the amounts vary.
In this post, we have listed the popular partial and full MBA scholarships for students from Africa, including the one our friend from Cameroon got. The scholarships are usually limited, so if you are looking for any of these, check the application details as well as the eligibility criteria. And apply in time.
List of MBA Scholarships for African Students
|Business School||Scholarship Name||Scholarship Amount / Num of Awards||Eligibility|
|INSEAD Africa Leadership Fund Scholarship||One in each class. Amount of Award:
|African nationals who have lived considerably and received some prior education in Africa.|
|INSEAD Greendale Foundation Scholarship||€35,000||Disadvantaged Southern and East Africans.
*Scholarship recipients must return to work in these African regions within 3 years of graduation
|INSEAD MBA’75 Nelson Mandela Endowed Scholarship||Up to €20,000||Sub-Saharan Africans|
|INSEAD Pot Family Foundation Scholarship Award||Full-tuition||African nationals|
|5. INSEAD Renaud Lagesse ’93D Scholarship for Southern and East Africa||Up to €10,000||Southern and East Africans|
|Stanford Africa MBA Fellowship||Upto 8 fellowships a year covering tuition and associated fees US $160,000||Citizens of African countries.
* Stanford Africa MBA Fellows have to return to Africa to work for at least two years in a professional role that contributes to the continent’s development within two years of graduation.
|Olam International Africa Graduate Scholarship||Two scholarships covering $58,000 over the two years of the MBA program.||Nationals of Sub-Saharan Africa regardless of their current country of residence.|
|7UP Harvard Business School Scholarship||One Scholarship covering tuition, board and travel expenses for both years of the MBA program.||Candidates from Nigeria|
|Africa Scholars Program||Up to four scholarships -$70,000 USD annually.||Citizens of African countries|
|MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program||Comprehensive scholarship covering all MBA related expenses including travel, visa, tuition and living expenses.||Citizen of a Sub-Saharan African country|
|Harambe Yale Scholar Program for African Entrepreneurs||Full tuition and fees||Born in Africa and current passport holders of an African country – those who’ve exhibited entrepreneurial leadership in their field of interest|
|7.||London Business School||1. The African Scholarship
|Award: One award of £20,000||All successful African applicants|
|2. The Mo Ibrahim Foundation Scholarship
|One scholarship, providing full payment of fees||Exceptional African candidate with financial need|
|3. Gallifrey Scholarship for Social Enterprise
|£20,000||Background in social enterprise with a preference for women and/or candidates residing in Africa.(open to MBA, EMBA and Sloan Masters applicants)|
Oxford-Saïd Business School
|Saïd Foundation scholarships Africa||£10,000 – £50,200||African-born nationals|
|Dean’s scholarship-Africa||One award of £10,000 towards the tuition fee.||African-born nationals|
|EY Angolan scholarships||Tuition fee plus living expenses||Resident in Angola|
|Fondation Rainbow Bridge||Up to two scholarships of € 20,000 per year||Women from Asian or African countries affected by natural disasters, drought or famine.|
|Diversity Scholarship-African Citizenship||$10,000 to full tuition per academic year||Citizens of countries in Africa|
|ESMT Africa Scholarship||Three scholarships of up to € 15,000 available||Permanent residence in any African country.
*Candidates would be expected to actively promote the school in their country throughout and after their studies, e.g. by serving as an ESMT mentor.
|The Mwangi MBA Scholarship||Full tuition fees to the value of €34,500 and a €20,500 stipend.||Female African citizens resident in Kenya.|
Some of these scholarships may have been dropped or changed, or news ones added. So, do check the official websites (we’ve shared the links) to find out more on the latest scholarships for African students posted by the respective business schools.
Regardless of whether you get a scholarship or not, if you plan to study in the United States, you also need to know how to build a good credit score in the U.S. as an international student.
– How to get GMAT Scholarships
– List of MBA Scholarships for Indian students
– How can international students get full scholarships?
– Higher education scholarships for international students
Image credit: Simon Business School