MBA carrying professionals earn close to double compared to their peers. However, the option of taking on an MBA seemed only available to those few who can afford it. This may change though through the No-Pay MBA pilot which kicks off next month.
The option of a No-Pay MBA might sound off kilter to many people, but thanks to open source technology it is now a reality. Self-motivated young professionals aiming to pursue a business education, without going into debt, can now access the innovative option through the guidance and tutelage of a South African NGO and one of South Africa’s leading innovators in the field of executive development.
Research shows that MBA carrying professionals earn close to double compared to their peers. However, the option of taking on the MBA seemed only available to those few who can afford it. Co-designer of the renowned UCT’s Graduate School of Business’ pioneering Executive MBA, Tom Ryan believes this is something that can be changed.
“I was inspired by the story of Laurie Pickard. In 2013, Laurie needed a business education to move forward in her career, but after researching the options, she was unconvinced that an investment of her life savings in a traditional MBA would pay off. She thought there might be another way and with the help of free online courses from the world’s top universities she began her self-taught journey. She documented her noble experience on her blog, No-Pay MBA, so that others could learn from her – and the public quest went viral. When I read about her experience I knew it could be replicated and even improved in South Africa,” says Tom.
Tom began conceptualising what a low-cost MBA would look like and soon approached Cape Town based NPO, Salesian Life Choices to partner with him.
Sofia Neves, Salesian Life Choices MD says; “When we heard the concept of the No-Pay MBA we knew we wanted to be part of it. Our mission as an organization is to tackle inequality and this concept excited us. The fact that only a few elite can afford the exorbitant fees required to pursue a MBA in South Africa feels unethical. Business skills are a scarcity, but they are essential to support SA’s economic growth, – something we are in desperate need of.”
The No-Pay MBA uses blended learning that reverses the traditional learning environment by delivering instructional content – often online – using MOOCs, outside of the classroom. Students watch online lectures, collaborate in online discussions, carry out research at home and then once a week engage in peer-learning in the classroom with the guidance of an expert.
“The program welcomes people from different fields, no background knowledge is required; however preference is given to candidates with some management experience. The course is ideally suited to those desiring to enhance their business acumen, looking to change careers, start a business or just get better in their profession,” says Tom.
As with Pickard’s design, courses offered are based on MOOCs from leading institutions including, but not limited to, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of California, University of Pennsylvania and Macquarie University in Australia. The 100 week programme demands 10 hours of commitment per week – seven hours of self-study and three hours in meet-ups and will start in April 2018.
“We have begun our recruitment and anyone can join the open days before the closing date on the 28th of March. The programme will be piloted in Cape Town and the weekly meet-ups will happen after hours at our academy in the Southern Suburbs. The aim is to accommodate working professionals as much as we can. The cost for the two year programme is R38,000 and there are several options of payment.
“Five scholarships will be offered. The aim is to push boundaries and align the programme with how modern education should be – dynamic and equitable,” says Sofia.
Laurie Pickard, the originator of the No-Pay MBA concept and author of the book Don’t Pay For Your MBA says, “The curriculum of Life Choices No-Pay MBA is outstanding, comparable to the education you would get at any major business school. Even more valuable, having the support and guidance of a community of other learners and professionals is something that could have added much value to my own No-Pay MBA journey. There is potential for dedicated learners to get outstanding value out of this program, far beyond what they could get with a traditional MBA program. A comprehensive curriculum, a cohort of peers, and an affordable price. What more could you ask for?”
SA consumers buy 3.2m smartphones in Q1
Smartphone sales in South Africa grew by 12.4% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018, reaching around 3.2 million units for the period.
However, the value of the smartphone segment increased by 22.8% as sales of entry-level devices to low- and mid-income consumers continued to drive the market, according to point of sale data from market research firm, GfK South Africa.
GfK South Africa’s data reveals that telecommunications retail enjoyed a strong start to the year, with revenue growing 22.4% year-on-year. The growing popularity of phablets and higher unit prices (as a result of a weaker rand) helped to drive this increase in revenue, against a backdrop of low or negative growth in many segments of the consumer technology market.
“The mobile device market showed good growth in the quarter, despite rising prices during the period under review,” says Norman Muzhona, Solutions Specialist for Telecommunications at GfK South Africa. “In addition to the exchange rate, the introduction of popular, new mid-tier devices by several leading vendors helped to drive higher retail revenues in the telecoms market.”
Information technology retail revenues for the quarter contracted 4.8% compared to 2017, largely because of decreasing monitor prices and a 38.9% decline in tablet revenues. However, desktop computer revenues grew 39% and mobile computing revenues grew 6.5% year-on-year, thanks to higher prices and increased sales of higher-end products.
Says Berno Mare, Solutions Specialist for IT, Office Equipment and Value Added Services: “Retailers introduced new computing devices priced in the R3000 band during the quarter and enjoyed surprisingly strong demand for these entry-level units.
“Telcos enjoyed robust growth in mobile computing retail sales, thanks to credit deals, subsidised contracts and attractive data offers. However, South African consumers are heavily indebted, which may dampen growth for the rest of the year.”
With consumers rapidly migrating to smartphones, sales of traditional mobile phones continued to decline, down 1.6% year-on-year to around 2 million for the quarter. However, the exchange rate and the introduction of higher-priced brands helped to drive a 8.9% year-on-year revenue increase in mobile phone revenues during the period under review.
This follows the 21% drop in mobile phone unit sales in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015. “Operators continue to lead the transition from feature phones to smartphones as they pursue higher data revenues,” says Muzhona. “The entry-level market for smartphones is fiercely competitive, and the minimum specs of lower cost smartphones is improving all the time.”
GfK South Africa expects the migration from mobile phones to smartphones to accelerate in 2018. However, it remains to be seen if the introduction of 4G-enabled, Voice-over-LTE-ready feature phones will have any impact on the South African mobile phone market.
Sectors of the consumer electronic market that showed strong growth for the first quarter of 2018 include loudspeakers—revenues up 21.6% year-on-year, thanks to demand of Bluetooth-enabled product—and ultrahigh definition (UHD) panel TVs—where revenues grew 33%, thanks to the growing affordability of the technology. UHD unit shipments were up 76%, while the average selling price of the products fell 24%.
Other market highlights for the first quarter of 2018 include:
- Photo category revenues were up 8.1% year-on-year.
- Small domestic appliance revenues grew 8%, following a 10.3% decline in Q1 2016 over Q1 2015. Hot air fryers sold well, as did kettles and toasters.
- Major domestic appliances showed small year-on-year growth over Q1 2016, despite a decline in average selling price in many sub-categories of this market. Cooling products continued to make the highest contribution to growth in this segment.
- Office Equipment revenues declined 18% year-on-year, led downwards by lower printer and cartridge sales volumes.
What kids want online
Kaspersky Lab’s latest report on the online activities of children – based on statistics received from its solutions and modules with child protection features – highlights children’s online activities and the importance of protecting them when online. For example, video content globally, comprised 17% of searches over the last months. Although many videos watched as a result of these searches may be harmless, it is still possible for children to accidentally end up watching videos that contain inappropriate content.
The report shows anonymised statistics from Kaspersky Lab’s flagship consumer solutions for Windows PCs and Macs that have the Parental Control module switched on and from Kaspersky Safe Kids, a standalone service for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices.
In South Africa, communication sites (such as social media, messengers, or emails) were the most popular pages visited by computers with parental controls switched on – with users in South Africa visiting these sites in 69% of cases over the previous 12 months. Software, audio, and video accounted for 17% of searches. Websites with this content have become significantly more popular since last year, when it was only the fifth most popular category globally at 6%. The top four is rounded off with electronic commerce (4.2%) and alcohol, tobacco, and websites about narcotics (3.9%), which is a new addition compared to this time last year.
The report presents search results on the ten most-popular languages* for the last 6 months. The data shows that the video & audio category – including requests related to any video content, streaming services, video bloggers, series and movies – are the most regularly ‘googled’ by children (17% of the total requests). The second and third places go to translation (14%) and communication (10%) websites respectively. Interestingly, games websites sit in fourth place, generating only 9% of the total search requests.
We can also see a clear language difference for search requests: for example, video and music websites are typically searched for in English, which can be explained by the fact that the majority of movies, TV series and musical groups have English names. Spanish-speaking kids carry out more requests for translation sites, while communication services are mostly searched for in Russian.
More than any other nationality, Chinese-speaking children look for education services, while French-speaking kids are more interested in sport and games websites. In turn, German-speaking requests dominate in the “shopping” category. The leading number of search requests for porn are in Arabic, and for anime are in Japanese.
“Kids in different countries have different interests and online behaviors, but what links them all is their need to be protected online from potentially harmful content. Children looking for animated content could accidentally open a porn video. Or they could start searching for innocent videos and unintentionally end up on websites containing violent content, both of which could have a long-term impact on their impressionable and vulnerable minds,” says Anna Larkina, Web-content Analysis Expert at Kaspersky Lab.
As well as analysing searches, the report also looks into which websites children visit or attempt to visit that contain potentially harmful content which falls under one of the 14 preset categories** for the last 12 months.
The mobile trend is again highlighted in the figures for computer games, which are now in fifth place locally on the list at 3%. As kids continue to show a preference for mobile games rather than computer games, this category will only continue to decrease in popularity on computers over the coming months and years.
“No matter what they are doing online, it is important for parents not to leave their children’s digital activities unattended, because there’s a big difference between care and obtrusiveness. While it is important to trust your children and educate them about how to behave safely online, even your good advice cannot protect them from something unexpectedly showing up on the screen. That’s why advanced security solutions are key to ensuring children have positive online experiences, rather than harmful ones,” adds Anna Larkina.
The Kaspersky Total Security and Kaspersky Internet Security consumer solutions include a Parental Control module to help adults protect their children against online threats and block sites or apps containing inappropriate content. In turn, the Kaspersky Safe Kids solution allows parents to monitor what their children do, see or search for online across all devices, including mobile devices, and offers useful advice on how to help children behave safely online.