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Business As Usual

An MBA program for coop managers

- Rose G. De La Cruz -
At first blush, a two-year-MBA program for cooperative managers is a strange course offering for the 40-year-old Ateneo Graduate School of Business, a member of the Ateneo System that is better known for educating the children of the wealthy

Then again, not many know that AGSB has been getting its students deeply involved in grassroots development called "strategic philanthropy" since 1994 when former Health Secretary Alfredo Bengzon took over as dean and vice-president of the Ateneo Professional Schools.

The first batch of 25 middle-level cooperative managers-students will be chosen by the Institute for Coop Excellence, which is affiliated with the 1,200-strong National Confederation of Cooperatives.

The students, who will start the program either this June or July, will be trained either at AGSB’s Rockwell Center campus or at any of its five provincial satellite schools in Cebu, Subic, Sta. Rosa in Laguna, Bacolod City, and Davao City

"How fast they take the MBA is completely their choice," said Alberto Buenviaje, assistant dean and executive director of the Ateneo-Regis MBA program. "They can choose to take one or two subjects per term for the next 1.5 to 2.5 years."
A First In Asia
The MBA program for cooperatives is the first of its kind in Asia. In the Philippines, some cooperatives are big business, with accumulated assets of P1 billion. Many cooperatives have also expanded geographically through branch operations, both within provincial boundaries and beyond.

"Our strategic partnership is just the beginning of a systematic effort to build career management professionals within the cooperation movement in the country. The career development program for coops is long overdue," said Coop Institute president Caridad Maadil. "Management has and will continue to play a central role in the growth and expansion of cooperatives. As these grow, so is the need to focus on the business of the coop enterprise."

Beyond business success, cooperatives also have a very special social purpose in society which both AGSB and Coop Institute would like to leverage to make a difference in the countryside.
Affordable
A recent survey commissioned by the Commission on Higher Education and conducted by the Fund for Assistance to Private Education showed that only two out of 199 graduate schools for business are in the outstanding or Category 1 level. Both these schools–AGSB and DLSU Graduate School–are based in Metro Manila.

"While our school is perceived to be elitist, we are, in reality, the cheapest compared to well-known business schools here and abroad. Content-wise, we are all the same," said Buenviaje.

A two-year MBA program at AGSB costs $3,400 or P185,000 while tuition at the Asian Institute of Management is $18,000 and the rate at Ivy League schools hovers at between $80,000 and $100,000.

Size per batch at AGSB is as low as 25 against the density of 80 students for Harvard University and 60 to 70 for AIM.

"This is a deliberate strategy since it gives our teachers more time to deal more personally with the students, all of whom are adults with too much to do and very little time on their hands to do it," said Cesar Mansibang, registrar of Ateneo Professional Schools.

Since 90% of its students are working, AGSB classes are held in the evening, after office hours. The courses stress work place-based and experience-driven learning.
A FIRST IN ASIA AGSB ALBERTO BUENVIAJE ASIAN INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT ATENEO GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS ATENEO PROFESSIONAL SCHOOLS ATENEO SYSTEM BACOLOD CITY CARIDAD MAADIL COOP INSTITUTE
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