News & Highlights

  • October 2020

24 Hours of Harvard

Worldwide Week at Harvard showcases the breadth of Harvard’s global engagement through academic and cultural events with global or international themes. On October 7th-8th, 2020, Harvard broadcasted 24 Hours of Harvard, which featured 24 consecutive hours of around-the-clock and around-the-world events and activities. MENARC hosted two events during the Worldwide Week. In the first, ‘’Being HBS-Affiliated During the Pandemic: HBS MBA Alumni Discussing the Effects of the Pandemic with Current MBA students,” panelists from across the region shared their experience on how the pandemic has affected each person’s plans and how the Harvard community has been a support during these tough times. In the second, ‘’Conversation on Managing During the Pandemic: Prof. Victoria Ivashina and Hisham El-Khazindar,’’ Hisham El-Khazindar (HBS MBA 2003), Managing Director of Qalaa Holding in Egypt, talked about how he managed his business during the pandemic and the future outlook in the region.
  • October 2020

Fatima Albassam

MBA Perspectives is a collection of HBS student profiles that highlight student experiences across different geographies and industries. These profiles provide prospective students with insight into life at HBS. In this article, Fatima Albassam, a student from Saudi Arabia, discusses her work with nonprofits working with Syrian refugees, what brought her to HBS, and how she plans to take what she learns at HBS to the US social sector, and eventually, back to Saudi Arabia.
  • May 2020

Virtual Alumni Event with Professor Suraj Srinivasan

On May 8th, Alain Bejjani, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Holding and Professor Suraj Srinivasan, Philip J. Stomberg Professor of Business Administration in Accounting and Management, discussed crisis management during COVID-19 and the future outlook for the retail industry and the region in general. The webinar hosted over 180 alumni from the region.
  • MAY 2020

Virtual Alumni Event with Professor Felix Oberholzer-Gee

On May 28th, Hüsnü Özyeğin (MBA 1969), Murat Özyeğin (MBA 2003), and Professor Felix Oberholzer-Gee, Andreas Andresen Professor of Business Administration in the Strategy Unit discussed the expected speed of recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis. They also addressed opportunities during the downturn in the region. Over 170 alumni from the region attended.
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  • 08 OCT 2020
MENA Research Center Managing During the Pandemic
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  • 08 OCT 2020
Being HBS-Affiliated During the Pandemic

New Research on the Region

  • October 2020
  • Case

AfricInvest: A Pan-African Investment Platform

By: Victoria Ivashina and Youssef Abdel Aal

The case is set in December 2018, when Ziad Oueslati, co-managing director and co-founder of AfricInvest, a leading pan-African private equity firm headquartered in Tunisia, was reflecting on the future direction of his firm. AfricInvest started as a traditional small and mid-cap private equity fund, but over the years had expanded into multiple adjoined investment strategies. At the end of 2018, the team saw an opportunity in the venture capital (VC) space, but while some were adamant about the need to raise a VC fund, others were reluctant to add yet another strategy to AfricInvest's diverse investment strategies. The case presents a detailed insight into AfricInvest's journey from a $10 million Tunisian fund, to becoming a prominent regional player operating throughout the African continent with $1.5 billion of assets under management. Among other issues related to the firm’s growth, the case provides insights into the challenges of operating in such a wide and varied geography as the African continent. The case also offers details on their multiple investment strategies, ranging from small-cap SME focused funds, to sector-specific funds, cross-border funds, and private credit. The case explores the synergies and challenges associated with such a wide-reaching investment platform. This is described against the backdrop of the collapse of Abraaj, a leading emerging market private equity firm, in a scandal that shook the investment community in the region. The case also touches upon the role of development finance institutions (DFIs) as investors in emerging markets and the challenges of defining and measuring impact investing. The opportunity of launching a pan-African VC fund in the context of the recent collapse of Abraaj brings to the forefront several strategic questions for AfricInvest’s co-founders: Should they keep expanding into new strategies, or would it be better to roll back their existing ones to focus only on their flagship private equity funds? Were the synergies and opportunities that came from being a platform enough to offset the risks, or was their focus being spread too thin by operating numerous diverse strategies?

  • October 2020
  • Case

Migros Turkey: Scaling Online Operations During COVID-19 (C)

By: Antonio Moreno and Gamze Yucaoglu

The case opens in August 2020 as Ozgur Tort and Mustafa Bartin, CEO and chief large-format and online retail officer of Migros Ticaret A.S. (Migros), Turkey’s oldest and one of its largest supermarket chains, are navigating Migros through COVID-19 and the unprecedented surge in demand in online groceries. Between the first official case in Turkey in March and August, customers have flocked to online shopping and Migros’ teams have been busy trying to solve the picking, fulfillment, and logistics bottlenecks. In the six months, the company recruited and trained new pickers, expanded its delivery fleet, and converted less busy stores into dark stores. Quick to react, Migros was able to add new customers to its base and was proud of its accomplishments. Now, unable to forecast how much of the surge in demand for online was here to stay, how should Migros plan for the future of Sanal Market and Hemen? Was there anything the company could do to sustain the number of hybrid shoppers it acquired during the past few months?

  • October 2020
  • Case

Israelis, Palestinians and the Technology Bridge Between Them: A Work in Progress

By: Elie Ofek and Lia Weiner

In Israel of 2020 the demand for software engineers was endless. Meanwhile just miles away, Palestinian universities were graduating 3,000 engineers a year, and many of them could not find jobs in the still nascent Palestinian tech sector. Could these dots be connected? Dozens of Israeli startups and Multi National Corporations (MNCs) thought that they could, and were employing 700 Palestinian engineers, in part through outsourcing companies, and in part directly by opening local R&D centers. In conjunction, the Palestinian tech ecosystem was benefiting and developing a promising entrepreneurship sector. Both the joint work and the independent Palestinian ecosystem had important geopolitical implications, first by supporting the Palestinian economy, and second in the potential implications it could have on the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians, two peoples who have been in conflict for decades. While the opportunities were clear, various challenges facing an emergent tech sector, coupled with sensitivities surrounding cooperation between long-time ‘enemies’, created complications. Paradoxically, Palestinians realized that working with Israeli tech companies was highly promising, but the reality was that any relationship with Israel was politically sensitive for them and created a dilemma. The same applied for Israelis motivated but concerned about working with Palestinian engineers. Given the tremendous benefits, MNCs, governments, non-profits, and international organizations decided to promote co-operation between Israeli and Palestinian tech companies and to support the creation of a sustainable Palestinian tech sector; by mitigating the challenges both sides faced. Still, it remained to be determined whether these efforts would bear fruits, or whether tech cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians would remain anecdotal. Moreover, it was as yet unclear what big-picture implications such initiatives could have on the Palestinian economy and on the relationship between the two peoples. Recent developments, including the global pandemic and the peace agreement signed between Israel and the UAE provided their own sets of challenges and opportunities. Notable Israeli and Palestinian tech executives and entrepreneurs discuss the opportunities and challenges of collaboration, including the merits and drawbacks of various collaboration models, and the potential ripple effect that building a sustainable Palestinian tech sector could have on the region. Policymakers and advisors weigh in on the potential geopolitical implications of collaborations and an independent Palestinian tech ecosystem.

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Istanbul Staff

Esel Çekin
Executive Director
Youssef Abdel Aal
Research Associate
Yasemin Çağlar
Educational Programs Manager
Zeynep Mağgönül
Office Manager
Gamze Yücaoğlu
Associate Director, Research

Dubai Staff

Alpana Thapar
Associate Director, MENA Region
Fares Khrais
Research Associate

Tel Aviv Staff

Danielle Golan
Assistant Director