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First World Marketing Saves Third World Problems

MBAs Without Borders (FOLLOW UP)

— August 5, 2007 — Social Good
Trend Hunter is a big fan of MBAs Without Borders and it is time for a follow up, in the form of an example.

One University of Alberta student was able to take his marketing skills to Nigeria where he was able to save lives threatened by Malaria by sparking huge demand for a product that was unwanted. His idea to use product placement in Nollywood movies was what made it really take off.

Omar Yaqub took part in MBAs Without Borders, an incredible program for business school graduates that lets them apply their knowledge and skills to help in third world countries. He was able to cause a demand for anti-malaria sleeping nets, an invention the Africans had rejected until now because they considered them "primitive, rural and ugly" according to Business 2.0.

First he revamped the nets to introduce more appealing colours (pinks in Kano, blue in Enugu and green in Lago).

"To change the nets' backward image, he schmoozed producers in Nigeria's booming film industry (known as, yes, Nollywood) and got Hollywood-style product placement in 20 movies and two popular Nigerian soap operas.

"It worked. In nine months Yaqub's team negotiated deals to distribute nearly 4 million nets; he returned to Canada in December, hooked on the rush of social entrepreneurship. 'You feel good. You can sell as much Coke or Pepsi as you want. But if you do this, you've helped alleviate some suffering.'"