MSM Global Network Conference 2022 - Contributing to an inclusive and economically viable society


On 14 September 2022, MSM organized its Global Network Conference bringing together MSM’s global network of partners in emerging economies, business relations, alumni, students, consultants, faculty and staff. The conference also marked MSM’s 70-year anniversary and contribution to global management.

In the morning, speakers and participants gathered at the MSM campus in Maastricht as well as online, to start a day packed with insightful presentations, vivid breakout discussions and valuable network opportunities.

The conference aimed to create deeper insight into how MSM and its partners can contribute with knowledge, networks, education and research to

  • Stimulate youth employment, in particular in emerging economies
  • Innovate agricultural practices to become more climate-smart and sustainable
  • Strengthen inclusivity in organisations and approaches

Plenary presentations
After a warm welcome by the facilitator of the day, Dr. Huub Mudde, Senior Project Consultant and Assistant Professor at MSM, and the official opening of the conference by MSM CEO Meinhard Gans, it was time to give the floor to the first speaker, H.E. Meaza Ashenafi, Chief Justice of the Federal Supreme Court of Ethiopia.

In her address, The Power of Africa: Inclusivity in Business and Governance, H.E. Meaza shared her journey on how she challenged society and reformed institutions to embrace inclusivity, particularly in the area of gender. The journey comprises among others the establishment of the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA), the initiative of forming Enat Bank to support and engage women in terms of leadership, shareholding, deposit mobilization, savings, and access to loans, and finally her appointment as Chief Justice and being the first woman to hold this position.

Mutende Musonda, MSM MBA alumnus and participant at the conference, was impressed by the presentation of H.E. Meaza: “The Chief Justice gave an elaborate and well researched presentation on the impact of gender parities on development. It was insightful to note how much progress is being documented in the global south! Ethiopia is a great example of possibilities for inclusiveness and I strongly believe that the World Economic Forum projections of 80 years to achieve gender equality, could be reduced significantly if a lot of political will is demonstrated in policy implementation in several other countries.”

MSM Senior Project Consultant, André Dellevoet provided the on-campus and online audience with a business perspective on greening the global economy. In his address, André concluded that there is still a long way to go, as businesses in developed economies are not changing fast enough and in developing countries ‘green growth’ is not at the top of the agenda of most businesses. He emphasized that to make ‘green growth’ work it is necessary to use an economic rationale rather than a moral or ethical rationale, and to use incentives instead of conditionality and protectionism.

Julián Cardona, Sustainable Finance and Innovation Coordinator at The Nature Conservancy in Colombia, treated the audience on his insights into climate change and the impact of private capital flows. Looking into climate and nature finance, he identified blended finance as an opportunity. Blended finance combines concessional public funds with commercial funds and can be a powerful means of rebalancing risks and enabling investment. He presented the business case Sustainable Cattle Ranching as an example to scale up nature-based solutions in Colombia, and dived deeper into the water security challenge and water investment instruments.

Dr. Rose Ngugi, Executive Director of the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) provided a policy perspective on the digitalized economy. Dr Ngugi addressed the drivers for digital transformation and shared her ideas on how to close the digital infrastructure and usage gap. She indicated the need for various sectors to drive the digital economy and highlighted the importance of enabling a flexible, incentive-based and market driven policy and legislative framework.

Breakout sessions
During the interactive breakout sessions on the three different themes – Youth employment, Climate smart and sustainable agriculture, Inclusive organisations and approaches -  case studies were presented by MSM partners and experiences were shared.

Through the discussions, the participants of each breakout session listed the challenges and opportunities for the three themes, resulting in main recommendations for MSM and its partners on how to contribute to addressing the challenges. Mutende joined the breakout session on Climate Smart Agriculture and considered the presentations and discussions as very important: “It was incredible to note the role of Agricultural Engineering in enhancing Climate Smart Agriculture through precision farming as researched and shared by professor Tarigan of IBP University in Indonesia. The climax of the session were presentations and discussions on the observation that the business case for sustainability (including climate change) has not been clearly considered in many circles!”

Ruth Tekleab Mekbib, Communications Officer at the Office of the Chief Justice, Federal Supreme Court of Ethiopia participated in the Inclusive Organisations and Approaches break-out session and found the discussions very informative: "I mostly listened to the experiences of women, particularly in the Global South, in countries such as Ethiopia and Bangladesh, and was able to see similarities in their struggles to achieve gender equality. Different sides were discussed freely which opened room for questions and clarifications. I was also able to discuss in detail with one of the participants who provided an interesting insight."

The recommendations of each breakout session were presented in a plenary session to all participants.

Wrapping up the conference
Dr. Diederik de Boer, Director of MSM’s Expert Centre on Emerging Economies (ECEE), took the stand to elaborate on the lessons learned, at the conference and in the past 70 years, the role of MSM and its partners and how to further develop in the future. Dr. de Boer emphasized the importance of inclusiveness: “To do research on Youth and Gender on trying to leverage on idle and future capacities in society; inclusiveness related to investigate how informal businesses can become part of a more global and formal economy contributing to more equal growth. And finally also inclusiveness in a way that is climate smart providing ways of working that do not provide social and environmental costs as a burden to the future.”

Dr. de Boer illustrated how MSM focused on inclusiveness since its inception 70 years ago. Looking into the future, he indicated that MSM would like to work more closely with its educational and project partners on further fine-tuning the research and education agenda together. In addition, MSM will work more together with researchers and institutions within the School of Business and Economics of Maastricht University. And finally, MSM will be further teaming up with development bankers, policy makers and business practitioners.

Ruth Tekleab Mekbib appreciated the conference for several reasons: "The conference was much needed as it raised timely and relevant questions to be openly discussed by participants. My most favorite part was meeting new people and networking with people from different backgrounds. I liked the friendly environment that has been fostered by MSM and I hope the connections with participants continues to grow."

As moderator of the day, Dr. Huub Mudde looks back at a successful conference: “One of the unique selling points of MSM is its global network. It was great to see that our partners from everywhere in the world were with us and actively participating in the discussions. It was a true reflection of the width of MSM’s global network.”

70 years MSM and a look into the future

At the end of the conference, it was time to look back at 70 years MSM. A video was shown highlighting the key achievements and activities of MSM over the past 70 years, demonstrating MSM’s contribution to global management.

With MSM now starting a new chapter as part of the Maastricht University School of Business and Economics, it was also time to take a look into the future together with Professor Wilko Letterie, Vice Dean of the UM School of Business and Economics. Professor Letterie expressed his appreciation for MSM as an institute and highlighted the benefits of the ‘marriage’ for both institutes, which was also emphasized by Mr. Meinhard Gans.

The Global Network Conference in images

To see a photo impression of the day, click here.