MBA Fellow Reflections: Megan Kearns

Megan Kearns joined Open Capital’s Ugandan office for the summer as an intern. She’s a 2nd-year student from Yale University and she wrote a post (also found below) for the Yale School of Management internship spotlight blog on her views and how her experience has been so far.

This summer I worked with Open Capital Advisors (OCA), a management consulting and financial advisory firm that builds markets, drive growth, and enables investment across Africa. Since opening in Kenya in 2010, OCA has built an incredible team of analysts, former bankers, and former management consultants from all over the world. It’s exciting to be part of their quickly growing team in Uganda supporting engagements across Africa.

Having lived in Kampala before starting SOM, I’ve loved returning here to work in a new industry. Uganda is a dynamic, emerging economy, and OCA is able to deliver impactful and innovative solutions here for businesses, investors, and development partners. That translates to varied and interesting engagements for our team, ranging from raising capital for a fin tech start up to developing a revenue strategy for a solar home systems business.

I’m staffed on two projects this summer—one promoting the off-grid energy market and one sourcing businesses for growth financing. I’ve really enjoyed the combination of a deep dive into a new topic and meeting loads of interesting businesses across industries.
In particular, the off-grid energy sector presents exciting economic opportunities in Uganda. Only 20.4% of the population has access to electricity through the national grid, and an increasing number of private companies offer renewable energy solutions like solar home systems and “mini-grids.” However, this industry faces challenges in accessing finance and generating demand for energy in communities that have never used electricity before. My project looked at ways of reducing these market barriers in Uganda, but will hopefully have wider applications for the off-grid sector throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.
There has been a wide range of opportunities to network this summer, from attending a private equity and venture capital conference to joining in on business development meetings to catching up with my diverse, bright co-workers over coffee. I even met up with a few SOM classmates and alumni who are also working in East Africa!

When I was applying to MBA programs, what set SOM apart for me was its international focus. I knew there were several programs where I could learn accounting and finance from outstanding faculty. However, SOM’s emphasis on building leaders for business and society with a global lens is truly unique. I’m excited I was able to complement this learning environment with an internship abroad with a great firm. It doesn’t hurt that I was also able to fill my weekends with activities like whitewater kayaking on the Nile River and running a half marathon next to a national park!