Executive summary

The Barefoot MBA is a core set of business concepts fundamental to the entrepreneurial success of poor, uneducated villagers, told through a collection of simple, contrasting stories. The context of the stories in the original document reflect the cultural specifics of rural Thailand because our idea originated there, but the lessons from the stories are universal and, we hope, will lay the groundwork for Barefoot MBA curricula around the globe. The themes of the stories are meant to be universal. The details are adapted to match local context.

There are several things our project is not. It is not exhaustive. It is a first step at identifying and explaining the most basic concepts and addressing the most severe business skill deficiencies. It is not a textbook for students. It is intended to be a guide for teachers to explain complex topics to motivated but uneducated people who likely are intimidated by formal classroom environments and teaching tools. Finally, it cannot exist in a vacuum. We know that our understanding of external factors is far from complete, so though we have tried to build our stories around critical cultural pieces, without physically being in each village to integrate what villagers need with what we have learned, we cannot do more than hope that our curriculum will be effective there with proper adaptation.

To that end, we adjusted the Barefoot MBA during our return to Thailand in 2007, where we worked with the Population and Community Development Association to pilot and begin implementing the Barefoot MBA in rural villages. We continue to incorporate feedback from partners into subsequent adaptations, which we look forward to sharing and spreading around the world.