For aspiring entrepreneur Emmanuel Gebremeskel, F21, an opportunity to consult for PayPal as part of a Fletcher class led to an internship—and now a job after graduation. With a Master of International Business (MIB) degree and experience at a multinational company, the Ethiopian-born Gebremeskel ultimately plans to return home and launch his own startup. He shares how he hopes to make a difference in sub-Saharan Africa, the unique opportunity at PayPal, and the best part of the Fletcher network.
Why did you come to Fletcher to pursue an MIB?
Back in Ethiopia, the presence of foreign direct investment manifested as visible changes in the country. If I want to make a long-term impact in sub-Saharan Africa, which I consider my life mission, I need to understand how these multinational corporations operate. The Fletcher School was a good place to lay the foundations. It has rigorous courses around international finance and banking, and the curriculum on diplomacy and international relations provides a global context.
How do you plan to make a difference in sub-Saharan Africa?
In short, it’s about returning resources back home. Sub-Saharan Africa is incredibly disadvantaged. One of the ways that sub-Saharan Africa can stop playing catch-up and instead leapfrog is by adopting technology as a key catalyst. Through tech, the domestic private sector has the opportunity to develop itself.
My senior thesis involved trying to estimate the sub-Saharan African market size for PayPal. There’s a lot of opportunity in Africa, from the perspective of both mission and profit. I’m joining PayPal after graduation, and eventually I plan to go home and launch my own business. With those profits, I hope to direct streams of revenue towards policy work in Africa, trade negotiations with international governments or multinational corporations, conflict remediation and education, and environmental sustainability.
My role will be as a concierge of international business, done in a way that’s beneficial for both local and foreign parties. That is how I see my impact: reverting the balance of power.
How did you get the job at PayPal?
There’s a Fletcher class called Field Studies in Global Consulting. We bring in top clients, and students form teams to solve a real-world business problem. PayPal asked my team to determine the percentage of the U.S. e-commerce market that was generated by small- and medium-sized businesses, which make up the core of its business. We not only presented to the manager who was our client, but we were pushed up to the director and senior director.
I realized I could do something special there. I asked if PayPal had an internship program, did a case interview, got the internship, and then a return offer. I never knew one class would change my career.
What’s the best part of getting a Fletcher degree?
What differentiates Fletcher is the alumni network. It’s very friendly and the response rate is almost 100 percent when I reach out on LinkedIn. I’ll say, ‘I know you’re working at MasterCard or the IMF. Can I learn what your day is like?’ They always say yes.