By: Liz Stark
GSB scholarship aims to aid country’s rural poor
Stanford’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) has announced its new Grameen Fellows Program for the 2009-2010 academic year, which will offer full financial scholarships to two Bangladeshi students for the school’s two-year MBA program.
“We love to have a student body that is reflective of all different life and cultural experiences,” said Lisa Giannangeli, director of marketing for MBA admission at the GSB. “We want to make sure that we’re able to offer this experience to those who couldn’t normally afford it.”
The program, made possible by an anonymous GSB donor, is named after the Bangladesh-based Grameen Bank. The bank has gained recognition for its mission to improve the lives of the country’s rural poor by making credit available to them and encouraging self-employment.
“The donor was very impressed by Grameen Bank,” Giannangeli said. “She thought it would be particularly important to support Bangladeshi students.”
Grameen Bank and its founder, Muhammad Yunus, were co-recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.
The program stipulates that Grameen Fellows must be current citizens and residents of Bangladesh and that, within two years of graduating from Stanford’s MBA program, they must return to Bangladesh for two years of work in the public or private sectors.
“We want people who have a sense of pride in their home country and a desire to develop Bangladesh,” Giannangeli said.
While officials hope the Grameen fellows will assist their own communities, they also believe the students can add to the Stanford community. The GSB Web site comments that Bangladeshi students provide “direct and personal insight into an emerging economy” and can “[educate] the student body about Bangladesh’s potential.”
Based on the size of the anonymous gift, the GSB currently plans to offer the program for the 2009-2010 academic year only.
The GSB estimated that the cost of one year in the MBA program ranges from $85,000 to $95,000. This figure includes application and testing fees, both of which are covered by the scholarships.
Those applying to the Grameen Fellows Program will submit a pre-application to be reviewed by officials at Grameen Bank.
“[Grameen] will provide some regional, specific knowledge,” Giannangeli said.
According to the GSB Web site, 20 finalists will be chosen from the pre-application pool on the basis of “merit, financial need and commitment to developing Bangladesh.”
The number of finalists seeks to ensure that “we have a pretty healthy pool of applicants,” Giannangeli said.
Finalists will then fill out the regular application for the Stanford MBA program. From the pool of finalists, two fellows and two alternates will be chosen.
Because demonstrated financial need is one of the factors in the admission process, no partial scholarships will be awarded.
The GSB is working with Grameen Bank to advertise the program in Bangladesh.
According to Giannangeli, the bank has reached out to Grameen employees, the children of its borrowers and recipients of its own undergraduate scholarship program, which has provided for 30,000 students since its inception.
In addition to announcing the program on its site and blog, the GSB has also sent targeted emails to Bangladeshi citizens who have taken the GMAT or previously expressed interest in the MBA program.
University Site: http://www.stanford.edu