European study tour complements classroom learning for CMU business students

A two-week study tour to Europe provided Redekop School of Business (RSB) students with an opportunity to experience what they have studied in class.

Spending one week each in Western and Eastern Europe, participants learned about Europe’s economic, political, and social integration; met with various business, government and academic institutions; learned about Canada’s role in the global economy; and discovered ways the European Union (E.U.) utilizes its role to foster peace and development across the continent.

Tour participants stand in front of the Eurotower, home of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany.
Tour participants stand in front of the Eurotower, home of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany.

“The purpose of the tour was to see firsthand the significant changes taking place in Europe, that we discussed in class, and the challenges of integrating 28 countries within the E.U.,” says Jeff Huebner, Associate Professor of International Business. “On a tour like this, students see that the themes, issues, and topics we talk about in class are highly relevant,” he says.

RSB, a program of Canadian Mennonite University (CMU), develops the potential of future business leaders to bring together sound business practice with commitments of faith, generosity, and service.

Tour participants included a group of Canadian and international students and a member from the business community in Manitoba. The tour began with a week in Western Europe—visiting Belgium, Germany, and France—founding members of the E.U. The group visited various European institutions including the E.U. Council, Commission, and Parliament in Brussels; met with Canadian trade officials negotiating a new Canada-E.U. trade pact; visited the Frankfurt stock exchange and the European Central Bank; and participated in cultural activities in Paris.

The group also met with Titus Horsch, MEDA Europe Director and his wife Anita, who is a Canadian Mennonite Bible College alumna. Huebner has partnered with MEDA in various areas including on previous study tours to Latin America.

The week in Eastern Europe was spent visiting the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia that have undergone significant changes in transitioning from the Former Soviet Union (FSU) to joining the E.U. a decade ago.

Highlights of this portion of the tour included meetings at the Lithuania parliament to discuss the country’s role in recently leading the E.U. Council presidency; briefings on Latvia’s transition to adopting the Euro currency this year; observing NATO fighter jets flying overhead and pro-Russian protests over the annexation of Crimea; and spending a day with students and faculty at LCC International University, an academic partner institution of CMU.

LCC University was the first English-speaking Christian university established in the FSU. Participants heard about LCC students’ perspectives on life in Eastern Europe and shared about Canadian life and culture.

LCC Group
Tour participants gather with students from LCC University in Klaipėda, Lithuania.

For investor Norm Klippenstein, the visits to LCC University and with Canadian diplomats in Eastern Europe were highlights. Visiting LCC around the time of Russia’s annexation of the Crimea, Klippenstein says the conversations with Ukrainian and Russian students at LCC were priceless.

“LCC, with some 600 students, of which 60 and 80 are Ukrainian and Russian students respectively, provides a natural place for dialogue on these important peace issues,” he says. “The Canadian Ambassador’s candid reflections on the region’s history added to our understanding of the challenges the countries face.”

Huebner is working to enhance the international study tours offered by RSB and integrate them into the wider community, including the business community. Tours are offered each year, alternating in focus from business in Europe to economic development and microfinance in Latin America. Financial assistance is available for students through RSB travel grants.

Huebner is passionate about connecting students with real world experiences.

“What I enjoy most is opening the eyes of our students to the wider world that’s out there that has a lot of different needs,” he says. “We can use business in a lot of non-traditional ways such as combining it with development and missions, to make a positive difference in the world.”

The next RSB study tour, looking at microfinance in Central America, is being planned for spring 2015. If you are interested in participating, contact Jeff Huebner for more information.


Events General News Lectures News Releases

Redekop School of Business Hosts Distinguished Businesswoman

Social entrepreneur Sarah J. Smith to spend week meeting with students and business people

The Redekop School of Business (RSB) welcomes Sarah J. Smith to Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) as its 2013 Social Entrepreneur In-Residence. Ms. Smith will spend September 23-27 mentoring students and meeting local business people to share her story, which combines business, social justice, and Biblical principles.

Sarah J. Smith

Ms. Smith, who holds a number of degrees including a Doctorate of Theology and Bachelor of Business Administration, is founder and president of Sarah’s Hope Jewelry. The Wisconsin-based for-profit company was started in 2004 to fund non-profit organizations that provide small business micro-loans and training for women in the USA and developing world.

Ms. Smith’s week-long visit will include a number of classroom appearances and one-on-one sessions with RSB students. Additionally, she will also be the keynote speaker at a luncheon presented by MEDA Winnipeg, scheduled for September 26 at the Notre Dame Avenue Independent Jewellers location. There she will share how her business model has helped small business owners in less developed countries overcome poverty and become viable contributors to their local communities.

“Through the combination of Sarah J. Smith’s business acumen and pastoral ministries, Sarah’s Hope Jewelry is a testament to the impact one individual can have on communities around the world,” say RSB Director, Dr. Ray Vander Zaag. “The opportunity for our students and faculty to experience her passion for international development and business will prove there is room for social justice in a commerce environment.”

For more information regarding Ms. Smith’s background and a schedule of events, please visit

RSB’s 2012 In-Residence guest was Art DeFehr, Winnipeg-based businessman, humanitarian, and philanthropist who has bettered the lives of others in Manitoba and around the world.

General News

CMU students travel to Latin American to research microfinance

Students from CMU’s Redekop School of Business (RSB) have just returned home from the first RSB study tour to Latin America.

From April 29 to May 13, six students and a supervising professor traveled to Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic to explore how microfinance—providing small loans and financial services to the economically poor—is being used to fight poverty.

“It’s exciting to see the students experience first-hand how their business skills can be used overseas in non-traditional ways,” says Jeff Huebner, Associate Professor of International Business who led the tour.

RSB business students Lauren Cassie and Joni Sawatzky with a MiCredito loan client

Before leaving Winnipeg, the students spent four months studying microfinance and writing research consulting reports for two partner organizations operating in Latin America, MEDA/MiCredito and HOPE International.

 They presented their research to the staff of these organizations, visited microenterprise clients and loan group meetings, and learned about the challenges and opportunities of doing business and development abroad.

“Textbooks just don’t convey stories as well as standing face-to-face with actual people in the story,” says Lauren Cassie, a fourth-year business major from Lorette, Manitoba.

For Cassie, a highlight of the study tour was making the connection between her classroom learning and the outside world.

“Visiting with individual clients and hearing how they had been personally impacted by the microfinance loans was awesome.”

Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) is one of the organizations RSB has partnered with, through their affiliate MiCredito in Nicaragua.

“We’re delighted to see some of today’s best and brightest young people get a firsthand exposure to a microfinance institution in action,” says Bob Kroeker, MEDA regional director of resource development.

“This gives us a chance to introduce a new generation to the impact of creating business solutions to poverty.”

RSB offers study tours annually that are open to students, CMU alumni and supporters. Next year’s study tour will be to Europe in May 2014, with the theme of Business in the European Union.

Janessa Klassen, Jeff Huebner, MiCredito loan client with his family, Rony Doerksen, and Ethan Heidebrecht in Nicaragua