Faculty member gets firsthand look at the beauty and challenges defining Africa today.

Exciting. Spectacular. Eye-opening. Well-planned. Intense.

These are just some of the words that Joel Barber, associate professor in the College of Business Administration’s Department of Finance and Real Estate, used to describe his recent trip to Africa.

He joined 16 other professors on the Fifth Annual Faculty Development in International Business (FDIB) Africa Program for a two-week-tour of Kenya and Tanzania.

Members of the Fifth Annual Faculty Development in International Business Africa Program overlooking Lake Manyara in Tanzania.

Organized by the University of South Carolina, the program provides participating faculty from colleges and universities around the United States with a greater understanding of the business challenges of Sub-Saharan Africa. The Florida International University (FIU) Center for International Business Education and Research (FIU-CIBER) sponsored Barber’s participation in the program.

Trip connects with both business and cultural aspects of the region.

In Nairobi, Kenya, the itinerary included tours of Delmonte Fresh Produce, the Coca-Cola distributor, several non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the Kenya Wildlife Service, the American Embassy and a clothing and dartboard manufacturer in an export-processing zone. In Tanzania, the group toured the Burka Coffee Estate, the town of Mto wa Mbu and a Masaai village. They also met with University of Nairobi professors, who briefed them on business challenges and opportunities in Kenya.

Joel Barber on the tour of the Coca-Cola distribution site in Nairobi, Kenya.

Barber noted that safaris ranked as trip highlights.

“I was struck by the scenery and the abundance of wildlife,” he said. “The experience was much more amazing than I expected.”

A tour of the Kibera Slums in Nairobi made an equally strong impression.

“Seeing the conditions that these people were living in made me appreciate our own comfortable conditions,” Barber said. “The tour also made me wonder about economy of a slum. In particular, it caused me to consider the flow of money in and out of the slum and the circulation of money within.”

He definitely recommends that colleagues consider the FDIB to Africa.

“It was an outstanding trip,” he said. ”From the food to the business tours to the safaris, it was exceptionally well organized, providing an excellent range of activities and a good opportunity to learn about Sub-Saharan Africa.”

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