Meet alumna Soura Ben Yahia

Soura shares with us what she thought about her course, her follow students and life in Cape Town

My most memorable moment is the sunset on Lion's Head. It was one of those moments where everything around you goes quiet. I felt at home.

Soura Ben Yahia, Aachen University of Applied Sciences, Germany

Soura Ben YahiaPhoto: Soura at Lion's Head, taken by Chloe Scott 

What was the best part of your course, and how do you think you will use what you learned?

Unlike the usual entrepreneurship lectures, Creating High Impact Businesses in Challenging Environments, puts you in the shoes of all stakeholders involved in the process of creating businesses and upscaling them. Whether you are interested in founding your own business, supporting start-ups in incubators, investing, or acquiring a start-up as a corporation, the course gives you an overview on the strategies used in these different positions, and on the role of all of them in creating value to consumers. 

The most inspirational part for me was our afternoon trips to different townships in Cape Town. We visited successful businesses that had their beginnings in the Phillippi Village. Watching these young entrepreneurs use their personal passion to represent the beauty of their neighbourhoods and create a positive impact on the communities is simply amazing. It was a living proof of how one small group of individuals can make a change. It taught me the value of resilience, team work, and trust in creating successful businesses. 

One of the best things about the course is that it is problem based. Along the two weeks, we worked in teams on developing an idea of a high impact business in a challenging environment, with the purpose of pitching it at the end of the course. After receiving theoretical knowledge in the lecture, the entrepreneurs we meet get to challenge it through their experience. Then we go in teams to discuss what is the right strategy for our business idea, based on our understanding and our personal goals. With this method, the course depicts the true nature of entrepreneurship: There is no recipe each entrepreneur follows to reach success. It is up to you, your values and your goals as a founder to define your high impact business and the impact it shall have. 

As a biomedical engineer, the course pushed me to take more of a stand in supporting start-ups that promote afordable and efficient technical solutions to make the healthcare experience of patients better. The course showed me the difference between founding businesses and creating products for low income countries and high income countries. And, how culture and politics play a role in making these solutions accessible to consumers. 

Alex de Cort EC201 2019Photo: Soura and her fellow students in Gugulethu township, taken by Alex de Cort

What was your overall highlight?

My overall highlight is in the picture of us together as a course. It was taken in Gugulethu with the founders of a mobile restaurants franchise. Before we started our trip, we were warned about the risks we are taking by going there. But the founders gave us food for the soul and stomach. Hence, the story of creating and selling one of the best burgers I have ever had is one that I will not forget. In Gugulethu we danced, laughed, shopped, had history lessons and made friends. I think the picture says it all.

What did you think about life in Cape Town?

Cape Town is simply a dream. Being surrounded by these majestic mountains at all time is amazing. I now understand the meaning of the sentence: Welcome to the mother city and the paradox in the introduction of my course. The luxurious side of the city and its beautiful nature makes you enjoy the aspects of living nicely there. But being in the townships is a strong reminder that there is more that needs to be done.  

Soura Ben Yahia 2

What did you think about your fellow students?

What makes the LSE-UCT Summer School different from others, is that participants are not only from all over the world, but also from all over South Africa. This creates a platform where locals and foreigners brainstorm and work together, with Africa generally, and South Africa specifically as a focal point. The great conversations I had with South African students from different backgrounds was a great opportunity for me to discover the country in the eyes of its youth. Their ambition, awareness, activism, eagerness to learn and love for their country is exemplary. It made me feel that South Africa is in good hands, and the best for it is yet to come. 

Soura Ben Yahia 3

What are your top tips for potential students?

Read as much as you can from the reading pack before you show up. It will save you time in Cape Town to do something else. It will help you for studying at the end. Take care of your health and get some rest. Enjoy every single moment! 

Thank you very much Soura for joining the LSE-UCT Summer School class of 2019 and for sharing your beautiful photos and wonderful feedback with us!