Louisiana State University (LSU) brought 26 American MBA students to Cape Town recently. As part of a WorldStrides Programs initiative, students are exposed to several South African businesses across the country, including Cape Town.
Nancy Davis, Global Curriculum Co-ordinator, facilitates these visits as part of an initiative to expose American students to international growing markets. “These meetings provide great exposure to the South African culture and business environment,” says Nancy, “and are an essential educational piece to their program.”
As part of their trip, the students can select which businesses they wish to learn more about in each location. For the Cape Town leg of the journey, the students selected SustainPower – a Cape Town-based power company that develops containerised gas-to-power generators, and is making waves in the sustainable power industry in Africa.
Ames Martin, Head of Operations for SustainPower, gave an overview and history of SustainPower to the students, and discussed the trends, challenges, and opportunities for the sustainable power industry in South Africa and abroad.
“South Africa needs a diversified fuel source for power generation, and gas – such as biogas, landfill gas and natural gas – is the ideal sustainable solution,” says Ames Martin.
“The market is wide open for sustainable power solutions in Africa,” continued Ames during his presentation. “Gas-to-power is one of the ways we’re driving hard to make a difference in the way developing economies generate power. We’ve already seen great uptake in our containerised gas-to-power CHP’s, and this is just the beginning.”
Jobst Schulte-Brader, the CEO of New Horizons Energy – the developer of Africa’s first large-scale waste-to-energy municipal solid waste sorting gas production facility – also spoke to the group. Says Ames Martin, Head of Operations of SustainPower, “Jobst did a great job in inspiring the students, and in laying out the market potential in Africa.”
After taking the students on a tour of the SustainPower factory, they also toured the New Horizons Energy waste-to-energy plant in Athlone. Says Ames, “Overall, the students were eager to learn, and asked a lot of questions.
“My final challenge to the students was to really consider what they will do with their MBA’s, now that they have them, will they stay in the US and squabble for scraps from the table, or will they venture out into the real world and develop businesses that solve real problems.”
“After the presentation, a few of them have stayed in touch, and have showed interest in leaving the US to invest their time and knowledge in local business. That, for me, is a big win.”