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African Business Cases

Sponsored by China Europe International Business School (CEIBS)

Medical cannabis: Afriplex’s diversification and integration strategy in an undefined market", written by:

  • Stefan Christiaan Nel, University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, ZA
  • Mikael Samuelsson, University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, ZA
  • Sarah Boyd, University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, ZA

The Afriplex case puts readers in the room with a South African pharmaceutical manufacturer's leaders as they debate which strategy for entering the newly deregulated medical cannabis industry will win over investors. Afriplex's depth of scientific and manufacturing expertise, built through years of synthesising an array of products from South Africa's unique indigenous botanicals, has positioned the company to be a strong competitor in the local market. Following Afriplex's journey to becoming a high performing manufacturer, along with the evolution of the global medical cannabis market, this case presents an exciting look at the opportunities and challenges for first movers in Africa.

Bringing Technology to Market

Sponsored by Bringing Technology to Market (BTM) Center, ESMT Berlin

“SAM 100: Will Construction Robotics Disrupt the US Bricklaying Industry?”, written by:

  • Dominique Turpin, IMD - Institute for Management Development, CH
  • Douglas Quackenbos, University of South Carolina, US
  • Martin S. Roth, University of Charleston, US

The SAM100 case explores the marketing challenges that a robotics and automation technology start-up faces in the construction industry. A recommended framework for analysis is Rogers' Diffusion of Innovations. By applying the analysis of the adoption curve, students can work through the process of diagnosing what might be impeding sales of the SAM100 and then identify which market segments, targets and positioning strategies will help accelerate the adoption of this innovation in order for it to progress through to a robust product lifecycle. The case highlights fascinating and valuable analysis areas, including robotics and the fear of job loss, diffusion of innovations, branding and naming, business to business customer value and benefits, and commercialization.

Continuous Improvement: The Journey to Excellence

Sponsored by EFMD Global

“Managing Lean Success: A Warehouse Balancing Act (A) & (B)”, written by:

  • Tao Yue, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, NL
  • Deborah Sherwood, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, NL
  • Rene De Koster, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, NL

EFMD Global would like to warmly thank the Director and the team of Mayoral Continuous Improvement Chair of San Telmo Business School for their expertise and contribution in assessing the cases submitted in the “Continuous Improvement: The Journey to Excellence” category.

The case examines CEVA Logistics's challenges, a Netherlands-headquartered global logistics company, in remaining true to its lean management principles and sustainability commitments of worker-centric operations while meeting an important new customer's demanding requirements as well as attracting and retaining qualified employees in an unfavourable business environment. The case is part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) case series developed by Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University. It addresses several other related SDGs focusing on SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and can be used for teaching supply chain and operations management, organisational behaviour and human resources management, sustainability, ethics and general strategic management.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Sponsored by ESC PAU Business School

“SC Johnson and the Global Ocean Plastic Crisis", written by:

  • Syeda Maseeha Qumer, ICFAI, IN
  • Debapratim Purkayastha, ICFAI, IN

The case addresses SC Johnson & Son, Inc.'s (SCJ) efforts to tackle the global crisis of plastic pollution in oceans, the complex environmental issue. It highlights the challenges the company faced in its fight against ocean plastic waste, including the plastic value chain's complexity, improvements in waste management, lack of adequate government regulations, and changing consumer behaviour towards plastic use. With plastic ocean waste being such a critical issue for the planet and human life, how could SCJ ensure that its commitment goes far enough to drive change on the ground?


Sponsored by emlyon business school

“Nubank: Keeping Customers Captivated and Employees Engaged”, written by:

  • Suzanne Cordeau-Andrews, FGV-EAESP, BR
  • Umesh Mukhi, FGV-EAESP, BR
  • Beatriz M Braga, FGV-EAESP, BR

The case raises contemporary issues about the growth challenges of the fintech startup Nubank. Based in São Paulo, Nubank has become one of the largest technology-based banks in Latin America. The case highlights how cumbersome bureaucracy in Brazilian banking led to the conception of a disruptive fintech startup with an entrepreneurial spirit. It shows the founders' emphasis on the importance of culture, values, and team spirit, which formed their organisational DNA's genesis. As Nubank grew, the founders realised how an entrepreneurial approach to defining its core values and culture became the strategic differentiation for competitiveness compared with the established banking sector's hierarchical system. The case's main teaching objective is to evaluate the organisational challenges for startups facing rapid growth, such as recruiting, designing, setting up, and managing teams while maintaining their corporate culture and values, essential to their differentiation strategy.

Family Business

Sponsored by Suliman S. Olayan School of Business, American University of Beirut

"Family Feud at Aldi Nord", written by:

  • K B S Kumar, ICFAI Business School, IN
  • Indu Perepu, ICFAI Business School, IN

Germany-based Albrecht family owned and operated the Aldi discount supermarket chain in several countries across the world. The Albrecht family members regularly featured on the world's wealthiest people but maintained a highly secretive and reclusive lifestyle. Such a secretive family made it to the magazines' headlines not only in Germany but across the world due to a dispute that arose among the family members. After one of the brothers who owned Aldi Nord passed away, his widow and children adopted a lavish lifestyle and started using the money from one of the foundations that managed the company. Unhappy with their behaviour, the matriarch of the family excluded these members from her will. The family dispute started to impact the business, as significant investment decisions needed all the family members' consent.

Finance and Banking

Sponsored by Portsmouth Business School

"Fintech: Innovation without Disruption - How Prodigy Finance Achieved Both High Growth and Social Good", written by:

  • Chan Kim, INSEAD, FR
  • Renee Mauborgne, INSEAD, FR
  • Mi Ji, INSEAD, FR

Lack of access to financing was a major barrier impeding international students' pursuit of advanced education outside their home countries. Traditional banks were oblivious to the international student population's burning need as their practice focused on domestic borrowers and their local past credit records. Three young entrepreneurs founded a fintech company called Prodigy Finance and launched an internet lending platform with a future-based and cross-border risk assessment model, thereby effectively connecting international student borrowers with individual and institutional investors. The strategic move of Prodigy Finance constitutes an illustrative example of new market creation without disruption, i.e., nondisruptive creation, a concept coined by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

Hidden Champions

Sponsored by Hidden Champions Institute (HCI), ESMT Berlin

"Shandong Moris Chemical Co. Ltd. : A Hidden Champion in the Brine Chemical Industry", written by:

  • Lucas Wang, University of Nottingham Ningbo, CN

This case documents the process of Moris Chemicals developing into a hidden champion in the brine industry. Moris' main business has been the production and processing of brine chemicals. It originated from a fine chemical workshop in a small coastal city, Shouguang, in China. Despite the humble start, Moris now has multiple chemical products that dominate the worldwide market, making it a global leader in the industry. With the most recent diversification moving into water treatment and land improvement, its corporate umbrella has been stretched beyond purely chemical businesses.

Inclusive Business Models

Sponsored by IMD - Institute for Management Development

“Silulo Ulutho Technologies: Scaling a social enterprise in South Africa”, written by:

  • James Chiswell, University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, ZA
  • Geoff Bick, University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, ZA
  • Warren Nilsson, University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, ZA
  • Sarah Boyd, University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, ZA

For many, Silulo is the face of South African social entrepreneurship, which is why it has been so exciting to follow their journey from an innovative startup to an established provider of ICT services and training in underserved communities. We rarely get to see in the classroom, literature, or business media what happens after promising social enterprises find their feet and begin their arduous growth journeys. This case explores the scaling models available to social entrepreneurs and the emerging market conditions that shape founder decisions in both necessary and conflicting ways. In this case, true to their ubuntu and education values, Silulo has given students and instructors an open, transparent view of the challenges and pitfalls that can arise as social enterprises seize upon exciting opportunities to expand and deepen their impact.

Indian Management Issues and Opportunities

Sponsored by EFMD Global

"The Akshaya Nidhi Foundation - in Aid of Akshaya Patra", written by:

  • Anshuman Tripathy, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, IN
  • Akshat Raj, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, IN

EFMD Global would like to warmly thank the jury members Dr. Mohan Lal Agarwal and Prof. Gunjan Sanjeev for their expertise and contribution in assessing the cases submitted in the “Indian Management Issues and Opportunities” category.

This case on Akshaya Nidhi shows how a non-profit social organization can structure with additional businesses to sustain itself economically. The Akshaya Patra Foundation runs the world's biggest midday meal feeding close to 1.7 million children daily (2017 numbers) from 33 kitchens across India. However, the government's reimbursement was not sufficient to sustain them, and the donations that were helping them bridge the gap in the past were not keeping pace. In addition, they had set themselves an ambitious target of feeding 5 million children per day by the year 2025. Evaluating various options led to the setting up of Akshaya Nidhi, a for-profit organization that followed the values and beliefs of Akshaya Patra; and the case describes how the organization was structured to meet legal requirements and share and distribute resources. The case will help students appreciate the importance of getting the organization structure to support a growing organization.

Innovative People Leadership Solutions in International Intergovernmental and Not-for-profit Organisations

Sponsored by AHRMIO

No submissions were selected for a prize. This testifies to the calibre of the competition, and we hope again to receive your outstanding case proposals for the upcoming edition! 

Latin American Business Cases

Sponsored by Universidad Externado de Colombia

"Internationalization at Cementos Argos", written by:

  • Esteban Brenes, INCAE Business School, CR
  • Luciano Ciravegna, INCAE Business School, CR
  • Ezequiel Reficco, EGADE Business School, MX

In October 2014, José Alberto Vélez, a Board member of Cementos Argos, and the company’s management team analyzed the options available to advance company growth. Holcim and Lafarge, two multinationals, had announced their merger, and Argos’ senior management team tried to find ways to leverage this news for their company’s expansion. The company resulting from the Holcim-Lafarge merger would need to disinvest in various countries, such as Brazil and Canada. Vélez and his team wondered if Argos should seize this opportunity to acquire assets in those markets. The company’s Board believed that Argos had the potential to increase shareholder value significantly, and furthering its international expansion seemed the most attractive option to do so. However, determining where the company should expand called for careful analysis.

MENA Business Cases

Sponsored by EFMD Global

"How Can an African Company Stand Out in the Premium Shoe Market? The Benson shoes case in Morocco", written by:

  • Imane El Ghazali, ESCA Ecole de Management, MA
  • Zoulikha Maaroufi, ESCA Ecole de Management, MA

EFMD Global would like to warmly thank Prof. Wolfgang Amann for his expertise and contribution in assessing the cases submitted in the “MENA Business Cases” category.

The case is based on a true story and represents some of the challenges that many MENA companies face today. The case can be very inspiring, and the students will appreciate the case experience, its analysis, and its discussion. The story is about a big adventure of a North African company wishing to assert its presence in a market essentially dominated by major international brands of premium shoes or even luxury. Benson shoe company is a 100% Moroccan SME, a family-owned company whose international market represented 75% of its sales. But, after the crisis that hit the European markets, it had experienced a sharp drop in its turnover in 2016. Setting higher sales as a priority, Benson Executives wanted to tackle the domestic market and wondered about the strategies to put in place to increase their market share.

MBAs and undergraduate participants have to analyse how to reconsider the strategies of a company like Benson Shoes in its market and how to design policies to enable the company to assert its brand while dealing with fierce competition from foreign brands.

Responsible Business

Sponsored by School of Business, The American University in Cairo (AUC)

"Mosabi: Gathering Forces for Social Change", written by:

  • Rachida Justo, IE University, ES
  • Caroline Tilden, IE University Alumni, ES
  • Krystyna Liakh, IE University Alumni, ES
  • Mona Müller, IE University Alumni/Senovo, DE

Mosabi is an app-based solution addressing the lack of financial literacy education and financial inclusion for informal sector entrepreneurs in Africa. By providing an alternative to traditional credit-scoring through education, Mosabi seeks to empower its users in the long term, generating a multiplier effect on their lives. It is designed to be financially sustainable as it also reduces the high cost of accessing the underbanked financial services providers (FSPs). To achieve its social and financial objectives, Mosabi measures economic and social impact and ensures the two go in lock-step. The case provides an opportunity to explore a social enterprise’s Human Resource Management, scaling and impact measurement strategies and analyze potential tensions corresponding to each of these strategies.

Responsible Leadership

Sponsored by University of San Diego School of Business

"Daddy Lab: A Chinese Social Enterprise’s Dilemma", written by:

  • Daniel Han Ming Chng, China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), CN
  • Liman Zhao, China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), CN
  • Byron Lee, China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), CN
  • Peter Moran, China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), CN
  • Hellen Heming Sun, China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), CN

This case follows the four years' development of Daddy Lab, a Chinese social enterprise founded in 2015 by Wenfeng Wei. As a social entrepreneur, Wei realized that he must grapple with trying to make the world a safer place for children and their families while making a profit to sustain this purpose. Wei had established a model to make profits through Daddy Lab's dual role of "reviewer" and "seller", but he wondered whether this was appropriate for this social enterprise. As Wei considered Daddy Lab's future, the following questions kept him awake at night: Was his existing business model effective in helping Daddy Lab tackle the social mission he felt so passionate about?

Supply Chain Management

Sponsored by EFMD Global

"Traeger Pellet Grills: Cooking up the Competition"written by:

  • Mark Kosiba, Ivey Business School, CA
  • Simon Greathead, Brigham Young University, US

EFMD Global would like to warmly thank Jamie Rundle for his expertise and contribution in assessing the cases submitted in the “Supply Chain Management” category.

In spring 2018, the chief supply chain officer of Traeger Pellet Grills, LLC, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States, visited a supplier in Changzhou, China. He was meeting with the supplier the next day but had not fully decided how to manage the meeting. The supplier was responsible for a large portion of the company’s supply of grills and positioning itself as a competitor by tooling, designing, and producing knock-off products that were then directly marketed to consumers in the company’s strongest market—the United States. Although the supplier denied any involvement in the knock-off grills, the chief supply chain officer knew the tooling and styling were impossibly similar to his company’s products. There was no other facility in that supplier’s area with the capability to make look-alike grills at that level. The chief supply chain officer had to decide how to deal with the rebellious supplier.

Women in Business

Sponsored by IMD - Institute for Management Development

“The Dual Career Negotiation", written by:

  • Lara Bekhazi, INSEAD, AE
  • Horacio Falcao, INSEAD, AE
  • Eric Luis Uhlmann, INSEAD, SG
  • Martin Schweinsberg, ESMT Berlin, DE

The Dual Career Negotiation case is a two-party, multi-issue role-play simulation based on the true story of a negotiation between a real couple, with names and details changed to protect their anonymity. Protagonists Alma and Pierre are employed by Rikoff Projects, a French firm with global operations specialising in designing and constructing large-scale infrastructure projects. Pierre has recently accepted a new position in Kuala Lumpur, transferring from Brisbane to be co-located with Alma and support her career at the firm. Around the same time, Alma learns that her Kuala Lumpur project has been cancelled. The couple must decide on how they navigate their impending career choices and shape their future together.

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