"The MBA is a transformational experience in many ways"
October 28, 2015
After completing his MBA at TIAS Serge Bajic went back to his hometown of Sombor in Serbia to think what he should do next. He then took a job as a technical lead at a consultancy firm. Together with his friend and compatriot Tanja Adzic, he decided to give something back to the town they both came from.
'There is very little civil activity in the town of Sombor – no music festivals or sport tournaments, no human rights activities or democracy-building projects. There is large-scale misuse of political power going on with no one to monitor or report it. This is why my colleague and I thought we had to do something. We thought of different models we could apply to make a difference. For example, we first had an idea about organizing a gender equality conference. But then we thought that we should just use our knowledge and skills to encourage others to put their ideas into action and help them with their projects.'
How were you going to help others?
'We started ‘Fabrika’ – a social non-profit accelerator aiming to provide working space, mentorship, financial support and easier access to funds for young teams with great non-profit ideas.'
Why a social accelerator?
'I did my management project at a social accelerator in Ireland. There, I learnt what can happen if startups receive the right assistance. I like this model and I wanted to apply it in my home town. In Ireland, I used the strategic model for profit-making companies. But the model can also benefit non-profit initiatives.'
What is happening in Sobor now?
'We first interviewed 136 people who had ideas for Sombor. We asked them if they were willing to act on their ideas, what obstacles they had come across and how a social accelerator could help them. Our research showed that 25 percent of those interviewed were finding it extremely difficult to execute any kind of idea in Sombor. They cited financial difficulties, lack of working space and absence of support from the local community as the main obstacles. Thus, this research was a good start for this program.'
'Right now, we are raising funds. This is not an easy job. Since we want to avoid pressure from the local and the national government, we cannot ask them for funds. We want to have full independence in our program so we can decide ourselves which initiative to support. We launched a fund-raising campaign on Indiegogo. Unfortunately, we did not manage to raise the full amount that we needed, but we did get many useful insights about how to conduct an online fundraising campaign. We also received excellent feedback, which will help us in the accelerator project.'
How is your MBA helping you with this project?
'It is helping in every step of the process. There were courses at TIAS about each management skill: leadership, organizational behavior, strategy, and finance. And during my MBA I did an Early Stage Financing course, which is proving very useful in raising funds and making business plans. Although the social accelerator supports non-profit companies, we learned at TIAS that most principles that apply to the profit-making sector also apply to non-profit organizations.'
What is the main learning objective that you now use every day?
'The MBA is a transformational experience in many ways. In particular, what I learned about creating a strategy helps me a lot now. Before the MBA, I used to draw up strategies largely based on assumptions. Now, I apply academic principles and I validate my assumptions with research. It is a very structured approach to doing things.'
'Looking back, I appreciate how much I learned at TIAS. Next year, I plan to get into the fair trade coffee distribution market. I think a startup would be the best way to use all the knowledge I acquired, because you can then use insights from different courses. It is up to us to maximize our potential with an MBA, and I think that one of the ways to do this is to start your own company or launch a non-profit initiative.'
'I would like to conclude by saying that I know that non-profits are not the common path to take after an MBA, but here I would like to use a quote from Adam Smith written on the wall at the Tilburg University library: “No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.” I think that each of us can do something within our own environments to help create a thriving and happy society.'
Fabrika Social Accelerator Crowdfunding Campagne
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