One of the world’s top business schools in London said on Wednesday that it will set up an institute to tackle challenges facing poor countries – the first of its kind to do so.
The London Business School said the founders of the Lonely Planet travel guides had donated 10 million pounds ($14 million) to create the Wheeler Institute of Business and Development.
“We can and should harness the power of business for a bigger purpose,” Francois Ortalo-Magne, the London Business School’s dean, said in a statement.
“We can train this generation differently, so that they emerge as more inclusive, more courageous leaders for good.”
The post-graduate school, which is consistently ranked in the global top 10, said business research and innovation could solve social issues ranging from healthcare delivery to poverty alleviation and gender equality.
Entrepreneurs using businesses to help tackle social problems are emerging across the globe – improving communities, breaking the cycle of re-offending, solving education issues and reducing isolation amongst elderly.
“Our focus is on tackling the huge problems in developing countries but with the knowledge that comes from having a business lens,” the Wheeler Institute’s executive director Raji Jagadeesan told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“Those applied solutions can really make a difference.”
Jagadeesan said the founding of the institute had been driven by demand from students and employers.
“Employers are worried about how to retain talent because the generation they are trying to recruit want their employers to be doing good in the world,” she said.
Tony Wheeler graduated from the London Business School in 1972 and his wife, Maureen, was awarded an honorary fellowship.
The couple started the Lonely Planet travel guides in 1973 after driving a minivan through Asia’s hippie backpacker trail from London to Australia.
After selling the Lonely Planet enterprise for $133 million in 2007, the couple set up the Planet Wheeler Foundation, which funds more than 50 projects in Africa and Asia.
“Maureen and I have been passionate supporters of international development efforts for many years and firmly believe that business and entrepreneurship has a central role to play in this journey,” Tony Wheeler said.
The London Business School, founded in 1964, has more than 40,000 alumni from some 150 countries, including Britain’s Brexit minister David Davis and Maria Kiwanuka, senior advisor to Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni.
In addition to teaching students, the institute will work on ways to turn research into action that creates change in developing countries.
By Lee Mannion @leemannion. Editing by Katy Migiro.