This is a unique opportunity to work with low-income entrepreneurs in the townships (slums) of Cape Town South Africa, alongside students from these communities who are enrolled in a free university known as TSiBA. This popular program has run successfully for more than a decade. You will be immersed in the local culture, and participate in community service and engagement programs as well as a community-based design thinking project. You will also engage in service-learning and community engagement projects. The program begins with a week in Boston preparing for the in-country programs as well as understanding South African politics, economics, business, culture, and history. The program is interdisciplinary based on a business platform and helps students understand the importance of empathy, cultural agility and social responsibility in building an entrepreneurial and innovation-based business and economy.

In addition to the work, you will go on a safari, and travel to world-class destinations like Cape Point, Robben Island, and Table Mountain. Cape Town is among the world's most popular tourist destinations due to its natural beauty, and you will have several opportunities to visit these locales. You will also experience township life accompanied by community leaders in a way that is not available to tourists or students studying abroad.

Application Procedure

  • Application Open: November 1, 2019
  • Application Deadline: December 3, 2019
  • Application Extension Deadline: January 15, 2020
Submit to GEO
  • GEO Application: All applicants must complete the GEO application. This is the first step for applying to any program.
  • $500 non-refundable deposit: Deposits must be paid through NUPay. Be sure to select the appropriate summer term.
  • Photocopy of Passport: This is to be given to your faculty leader after acceptance.
  • Faculty Interview: Faculty will schedule interviews with applicants of interest to determine acceptance. The interviews can occur anytime before the final deadline.
  • Essay Questions: Answer each question in 2-3 paragraphs (completed online via GEO application).
    • What are your personal and academic reasons for wishing to participate in this Dialogue of Civilizations program?
    • How will the program further your academic and career goals?
    • What is your previous travel and language experience, if any?
    • What courses have you taken which are directly relevant to the program?
    • Tell us why empathy and cultural agility are important to building and managing a mission-driven business that serves low income and poor people and communities.

Applications are not considered complete until deposit is received. This deposit will be applied to the full cost of the program.

Update My Travel Plans on myNortheastern
Once you have been accepted into the program and your the flight and accommodation details have been shared with you, you are required to create an entry in My Travel Plans for the trip. Please be sure to enter the following pieces of information:
  • Personal and Emergency Contact Info
  • HealthTravel Info: Dates, flight and accommodation details, etc.
  • Passport Details: Passport number, Expiration date, Passport Country of issue, etc.

Please refer to this step-by-step user’s guide for directions on how to navigate the My Travel Plans system.

Should you fail to complete this step as directed, you may be prevented from traveling, may not receive credit for courses, and/or may be excluded from participating in other Northeastern global programs.

Eligibility Requirements

Studying abroad requires a valid passport. You may also need a visa and/or other travel documents. It is your responsibility to ensure that all your documents are valid and appropriate to the nature of your program.

Minimum Requirements
  • Minimum Cumulative GPA: 2.50
  • Minimum Semesters: Minimum of 2 completed Northeastern semesters at the time of program start date. NUin students are eligible to apply. Transfer and Global Pathways students contact GEO program coordinator for eligibility.
Other Requirements
  • Possible Student Challenges: It is not physically challenging. Some students require time to adjust to working with poor people and in poor communities.


One course provides students with practical skills to enable consulting to entrepreneurs in business problem-solving; the other provides the opportunity for deep learning on South Africa, social innovation and entrepreneurship and poverty alleviation through private sector development. You will have the opportunity to solve difficult problems by developing collaboratively creative and innovative solutions, work in teams with people from a different culture and socioeconomic backgrounds, read and write deeply on important topics like poverty alleviation through business development, work with poor and under-served communities on projects, and interact with people facing enormous challenges in their lives unfamiliar to most students. You will work every day with numerous people from a dramatically different culture, morning to night. It is cultural immersion at its best with hands-on community-based work that can lead to positive social change.

  • ENTR3306 - Global Entrepreneurship : Offers an opportunity to learn how entrepreneurs start, finance, and manage small businesses. Includes a field experience in South Africa, which involves identifying startups and small business for assistance in developing a business plan and seeking debt and/or equity financing. Students have an opportunity to consider the unique challenges encountered by entrepreneurs in economically disadvantaged communities and the additional challenges presented by South Africa’s history of racism and its current struggles with HIV/AIDS. Teaches students the basic concepts and tools associated with small business management, such as preparing financial models and a written business plan and investment presentation, with the goal that they can provide meaningful consulting assistance to township entrepreneurs.
  • ENTR3308 - Business, Economics and History of South Africa : Covers the economic history of modern South Africa through lectures from faculty at the partner university in South Africa and also from the Northeastern professor. Includes the country’s transition from apartheid to its present economic and political situation. Offers an opportunity to learn how South Africa has managed to overcome the struggles of its recent past and become one of the leading emerging economies of the world with a flourishing business community. Includes readings in and study of modern South African economics, law, history, politics, and culture.


Northeastern Tuition: Summer term tuition as published by Northeastern
Dialogue of Civilizations Fee: $2,500
  • Northeastern Tuition and DOC Fee Includes: 8 Northeastern credits, international roundtrip airfare from Boston, accommodations for program duration, international security and emergency support, and program related expenses (local transportation, field trips, excursions and some group meals)

Additional Expense - Meals and Incidentals: $845-1,270
  • Students should anticipate spending this estimated amount during the program for meals and incidentals.

    If necessary, students may incur additional fees for visa costs and travel to consulates or embassies to obtain the visa. If you have questions about costs you may incur while participating in this program, please ask your GEO advisor.

GEO offers scholarships and grants for students studying abroad on Dialogue of Civilizations programs. Please visit our Scholarships page for more info!


Additional Resources
  • Blog : Check out this blog from 2015.


Cape Town is a beautiful world-class city. The townships are under-resourced communities with rich cultures and warm and friendly people. The juxtaposition of great wealth and poverty in a newly democratic country presents an unforgettable experience. We live in a safe, secure and beautiful urban community while in Cape Town. Classes and programs are held at a small free university in a quiet setting.

The U.S. State Department lists travel advisories, local laws, alerts from the embassy, and other important information about South Africa here. Please review this information before applying.


  • Apartment: The accommodations are apartments with kitchens and multiple bedrooms located in a safe and secure community along the coast just minutes from the best of Cape Town, the most popular destination in Africa for visitors. All apartments are secure, roomy and full service with kitchens, washers/dryers, terraces, elevators and double entry 24-hour security.

Host University or Organization

TSiBA is a remarkable, young and free university that serves township youth with a first class business education focused in leadership and entrepreneurship. We have been academic partners for more than a decade.

Faculty Advisor