As part of the Mannheim & ESSEC executive MBA program, the cohort students (students who work through a curriculum together to achieve the same academic degree) have had to implement a social project which is a way for them to engage with a non-profit organization and give back while learning and applying the skills learned from the MBA program. 

The cohort chose Action Education, an NGO for development through education which has been working for 40 years to ensure access to quality education for the most vulnerable and marginalised populations, especially children, girls and women, so that they can control their own development and contribute to a more peaceful and sustainable world. The cohort involvement to support this organization is aligned with RISE, the strategy developed by the ESSEC Business School for the next generation through its “Together” initiative, a 360-degree environmental and social transition plan. Fighting against social inequalities and creating virtuous local development models is one of the ambitions of the school and of our cohort. 

Strengthen ties with change-makers in local environment

By supporting local actions of Action Education’s initiative worldwide, the group contributes to ESSEC’s strategic goal to strengthen ties with change-makers in our local environment and contribute to fighting social injustice. Having access to a basic education is critical for escaping poverty in many countries around the world. In most countries, education is offered as a basic human right, however, access to education is not equally obtainable for many young girls. It’s critical that young girls receive an education not only for the many personal benefits but also for the societal benefits it provides. With an education, girls are less at risk to marry early and lead a more productive life. 

As so many of us have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, those who have endured the more significant loss have been girls and women. Already weakened, they are the most affected when crisis and emergencies hit.  23.8 million children and youth, of which are 11 million girls, are at risk of dropping out of school due to interruptions in their education, making them vulnerable to violence, hard work or bad treatments. Increased dropout rates disproportionately affect adolescent girls, further entrench gender gaps in education and lead to increased risk of sexual exploitation, early pregnancy and forced marriage. 

Build community trust and deliver an environment where women can learn

Several in the cohort felt particularly interested in working on Education for Women Now, Action Education’s first global philanthropic campaign to enable more than 3 million girls and women still left aside access to quality education in Africa, Asia, and Europe. For Corinne Peiffert, “As a professional working for a not-for-profit higher education institution for several years, I have been able to witness how education is instrumental in bridging the gap for women at different stages of their life. It is therefore very meaningful for me to contribute to Action Education’s mission to further women’s education regardless of their background.”  The Education for Women Now program works with locals within the country of operation to build community trust and deliver an environment where women can learn. 

For Gaëlle Athurion, “As a woman and mother, I’ve always understood the benefit of a good education in terms of independence, capacity to manage our lives, family and, above all, children care and education. In supporting Education for Women Now, I wish to help other young girls or women to have access to education in order to find their place in the world and develop gender equality.”

Education is the key that opens the door to freedom, self-development, confidence and dreams, and for that reason, the cohort chose Action Education to build empowerment opportunities with the next generation of learners. To find out what you can do to help a girl receive the education she needs to thrive, visit the Action Education campaign’s website, You can read the many stories of women applying their education to start businesses and succeed in doing so.

By Naoual Dehak and Jonelle Hanson