South Africa



The South Africa Field Research Program  is a hands-on, field based research program which is focuses on social entrepreneurship in Cape Town, South Africa. Developed in 2008 by Professor Dennis Shaughnessy, this academically rigorous program will enable students to learn more about global development and how entrepreneurship can lift families out of poverty.

In Module 1, students will work directly with urban entrepreneurs from township communities to help grow their micro-businesses through the Entrepreneurs Consultation Project. Students will work in consulting teams with local students from the Tertiary School in Business Administration (TSiBA), which is a free business degree program for low-income students from the townships. At the end of Module 1, student teams will present a deliverable on behalf of their entrepreneur; select teams are eligible to receive funding of up to $10,000 USD from the NU-TSiBA MicroVenture Fund to support their entrepreneur’s business. This portion of the program allows students to gain real life “consultation” experience and also provides students with an understanding of real life venture capital for business development, particularly in an emerging market country such as South Africa.

In Module 2, students will study with Professor Gordon Adomdza at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business to learn about human centered design and social innovation for the base of the pyramid (BoP) market. Students will have the opportunity to consult directly for high impact social enterprises and nonprofit organizations in the Cape Town area. There will be a mid-semester break in Module 2 during which students will travel to Johannesburg to visit other large industries, social businesses, and enterprises. 

The academic portion of the program includes subject material such as social entrepreneurship, social enterprise development, micro-finance, impact investing, and small business management. Classes are supplemented with site visits to social businesses and enterprises in the surrounding Cape Town or Cape Flats area. Site visits also include guest lecturers from local social enterprises and businesses, visit(s) to Robben Island, Parliament and other historical/cultural sites. Students also attend guest lectures by South African historians, politicians, journalists, faculty, venture capitalists, doctors and researchers to engage students in discussion of topics relevant to South African history post-apartheid, and how the country’s controversial history has led to its modern day business climate.

Weekends include student led service learning projects and thoughtful community service. In this service learning exercise, students are encouraged to research which organizations they wish to support, and fundraise towards their project goal; this component of the program enables students to see impact of their own strategic social investing. 

Weekends also include excursions, hiking trips, and an overnight safari.


ENTR3306: Global Development Entrepreneurship (4SH)

ENTR3308: Business Economic History of Modern South Africa (4SH)

Both courses are also regional electives for International Affairs majors/minors (Africa) 

Host Institution:

The Tertiary School in Business Administration (TSiBA)

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Please note this program is only open to students with a minimum 2.8 GPA. Students who do not meet this requirement but still wish to apply must contact SEI at so additional arrangements can be made to facilitate a reference.
  • All students must attend supplemental interviews in addition to the online application.
  • Preference is given to students who have completed prior Social Entrepreneurship coursework (see full list here) or are enrolled in the Global Social Entrepreneurship minor.

IMPORTANT Update: Due to the high volume of applicants, the lead faculty member on this program is actively seeking students who understand the mission of the Social Enterprise Institute. As such, students should understand a few key components – this program is academically rigorous (expect day and periodic evening classes in addition to field experience); this program is mission-driven all the time (expect community service at least one day of the weekend), and most importantly, this program has high expectations for mature students who understand that alcohol consumption is not the “end all” for having a good time abroad. This does not mean that the program is “dry” (meaning alcohol consumption is prohibited), but we expect that students will sign a contract for a self-enforced commitment to restricted alcohol usage.

 If you have specific questions about these requirements, please contact


Students will be staying in apartment style accommodations near the waterfront area of Cape Town. Apartments are either two bedroom, or one bedroom shared with kitchens, living rooms, and study areas. The building is equipped with wi-fi in certain areas, fee-for-service wi-fi in the apartments, laundry (washer and dryer), and gated security.


Students will be based in Cape Town, South Africa located in the Western Province. Students will have the opportunity visit many townships in the Cape Flats area for site visits and their consultation program. Students will also travel to Johannesburg, and have the opportunity to participate in an overnight safari. 


Some information posted here is tentative and subject to change based on costs and dates of available flights. The website is updated as current information becomes available. 

Program Dates (dates are tentative and may change)

Summer 2 2015 – Friday, July 3, 2015 – Monday, August 3, 2015

Group Leader
Dennis Shaughnessy

Application Status: Closed
Applications for 2015 South Africa are now closed. Please consider joining us in 2016!

Application Procedure 

Please apply via the Global Experience Office website HERE

Important Note

The OISP $500 deposit for this program is a REFUNDABLE deposit. If you are not accepted to your first choice program, your deposit will be credited to your student account. If you are accepted, the deposit is applied to your tuition cost. If you are accepted, but chose not to participate, you will not receive your deposit back. For additional questions about this policy, please email 

South Africa 2014 – Student Memories

Created by Vincent Armentano

Shannon Gillie profile

“Sometimes we don’t expect to be changed by our traveling experiences, but the Dialogue in Cape Town was perhaps the most eye-opening experience I have had as a Northeastern student. We met so many people, students and professionals alike, who are actively working to build a better future through education and business.” – Shannon Gillie, South Africa Field Study 2014 

See Shannon’s interview with TSiBA students in Cape Town HERE!