MBA grad CAREs about overcoming poverty

Obtaining a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree can open many doors and provide personal success. However Jan Dutkiewicz, who finished his MBA at Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business in June, is more interested at this stage in his career of using his knowledge to help others.

Dutkiewicz was selected as one of only 10 students from across the country to participate in CARE Canada’s CARE Enterprise Partners (CEP) MBA Associate program this summer. Through this opportunity, he gained hands-on experience in Peru, supporting several agriculture companies in their efforts to become self-sufficient.

By providing investments and business support, CEP supports social enterprises, promotes market-based development and helps entrepreneurs generate sustainable economic and social returns for poor families and communities.

Dutkiewicz is very committed to this type of support for social enterprises. “Poor people, given the chance and support to be entrepreneurial, will work to succeed. They don’t need pity or handouts; they just need the support and means to implement their own solutions to their poverty.”

Dutkiewicz was stationed in the city of Huaraz, Peru, and worked with three small agriculture businesses that harvest grains, artichokes and other vegetables from May 15 to August 7. He helped with everything from training in business practices—including accounting and customer relations—to focus sessions on strategy and self-evaluation. He also developed a new social enterprise monitoring system for CARE Peru, created comprehensive financial tools for all three companies, and crafted efficient business and customer relations strategies.

However he says that the highlight of his work in Peru was the relationships he created. “If I were to name one factor that led to my successes in working with CARE Peru and the three social enterprises I was supporting, it would be personal relationships. The links I forged with CARE staff and the companies let me work with them as a trusted partner.”

And Dutkiewicz does seem to have made a lasting impression on many of the people he met. Paula Pelaez, CEP’s program manager, says: “Jan has demonstrated a great passion for and understanding of social entrepreneurship models and market-based solutions to poverty. He has made a great contribution to our program and has added significant value to the enterprises with which he worked during the summer.”

Dutkiewicz believes that his success was due to what he learned during his MBA program. “This program gave me the business tools I needed to, in turn, find practical solutions to the business problems faced by the companies I worked with.”

Dutkiewicz singles out his work with Professors Linda Duxbury (on change management and organizational behaviour) and Ian Lee (on strategy) as particularly helpful.

Although he was able to make significant progress while on his placement in Peru, he believes there is still a long way to go.

“Do I think I made a difference? Yes, definitely. Is there more to be done? Yes, of course there is.”

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