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. 

Upcoming Info Sessions: 

  • Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 | 6:00-6:30 p.m. | Room 119 – YMCA Building (316 Huntington Ave) >> campus map
  • Thursday, October 30th, 2014  | 6:30-7:00 p.m.  | 108 West Village G

Program Dates (TBD)
Summer 2 2015

Group Leader
Dennis Shaughnessy

Application Deadline
Priority deadline is November 15th with a final deadline of January 26th. Program accepting applications until filled and is subject to close at any time.

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!