MBAs Without Borders co-founder discusses doing business with the poor

photo of Tal Dehtiar holding a blue running shoe

Named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative Business People for 2012, Tal Dehtiar, co-founder of MBAs Without Borders, and founder and CEO of Oliberté, will deliver the first talk Tuesday in a new joint Sustainable Value Creation Speaker Series.

Dehtiar’s talk, “Doing Business with the Poor”, will take place Jan. 15, from 7 to 8pm, at W256 Seymour photo of Tal Dehtiar holding a blue running shoeSchulich Building, Keele campus.

Tal Dehtiar

“The speaker series will profile a number of individuals with stories of success, failure and lessons learned in reducing poverty globally through an enterprise-led market-based approach,” says Kevin McKague, Schulich School of Business course director.

The series is a joint effort between York’s Institute for Research & Innovation in Sustainability (IRIS) and McKague, an IRIS Senior Research Fellow, along with his MGMT 6500 Sustainable Value Creation course. Also known as Business Model Innovation for Poverty Alleviation, the course is cross-listed by both the Centre of Excellence in Responsible Business and the Nonprofit Management Leadership specializations at Schulich, and is open to Masters of Environmental Studies students. It explores the disruptive for-profit pro-poor business models which are emerging in developing countries.

Dehtiar brings enormous experience working with the poor. In addition to MBAs Without Borders, an international charity that has engaged hundreds of business professionals around the world to volunteer and help build small and social businesses in more than 25 developing countries, he launched the first premium headshot of Kevin McKaguefootwear brand made in Africa, Oliberté Ltd., in 2009. Oliberté’s footwear is manufactured across Africa and sold globally.

Kevin McKague

“He illustrates how a local entrepreneur can take on a major business challenge – creating manufacturing jobs in Africa –  overcome many obstacles and grow a successful social business,” says McKague (MBA ’00, PhD’12), a Schulich alumnus. “Tal’s insights will help students and participants learn about the realities of creating and building a social business and provide inspiration for others who may follow.”

Dehtiar is a recipient of the Ontario Global Trader Award, CYBF Chairman Award, Arch Award and was nominated for the YMCA Peace Award, Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 and Ernst & Young’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2007, he was named one of the International Youth Foundation’s Young Social Entrepreneurs. He has also been on television show “Dragons’ Den” twice.

“Students taking the course may be interested in starting their own social enterprise or working in a non-governmental organization, small or medium sized business or large company that wants to create social and economic value for themselves and for low-income individuals. The speakers were chosen to meet the class learning objectives, but their stories are applicable to sustainable development more broadly,” says McKague.

“This is a relatively new area of interest for many organizations and many experiments have been tried. Many have failed. But a number of innovative ventures are showing signs of success. It is from these examples that we aim to learn what works in doing business with the poor in ways that are mutually beneficial.”

The next speaker in the series will be Bryan Smith, president, Broad Reach Innovations Inc., and advisor for the Uganda Rural Development & Training Programme, on Jan. 29. Smith will discuss “Innovations in Education and Sustainable Development: The Uganda Rural Development and Training Program”.

For more information and a complete list of speakers and topics, visit the Sustainable Value Creation Speaker Series website.