Fall 2008

In Brief

MBAs Help Feed Ghana Children

Imagine trying to work on an empty stomach. Consider thousands of malnourished children in Ghana, attending school and trying to learn while hungry.

For the fourth year, Berkeley MBA students traveled to Ghana this past summer to work with local farmers to sell crops to schools, thereby reducing hunger and malnutrition among children and increasing school attendance. The Ghana School Feeding Program, developed as part of the Haas School's International Business Development (IBD) Program, has been so successful that it captured the attention of the Dutch government, which has committed up to $25 million a year to help fund it.

"Our project focused specifically on strengthening this connection between local farmers and local schools, and we examined the value chain and markets for key crops produced in the local area," says Jason Topel, MBA 09, one of the students who visited Ghana this summer.

Topel traveled with  Jessica Lopatka and Pedro de Vasconellos, both MBA 09, to the southern coastal city of Accra to study and evaluate the program's business plan.

Not only did Team Ghana study the food program, they sampled the menu. An unexpected favorite: chicken gizzard stew with rice balls.

But the real meat of the Ghana program  lies in its funding from the Dutch government. After IBD's first Ghana team helped launch the program in 2005, a report by the students was presented to the UN Millennium Project's Task Force on Hunger and the Dutch minister for development. The Dutch government then agreed to finance the Ghana program with up to $25 million annually for 10 years, based on matching funds from the Ghanaian government.


The original program, which started with eight schools, is now in more than 1,000 schools and still growing.


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Berkeley MBAs in Ghana

Jason Topel and Jessica Lopatka, both MBA 09, visit a school in Ghana, where Haas students developed a school lunch program that feeds malnourished children and bolsters local food production.