Mo Abudu’s business becomes Harvard case study
Mo Abudu, the CEO of EbonyLife Group, is known for several firsts in the media space, and is adding another feather to her hat. For the first time in history, a case study about a female African media entrepreneur titled: ‘The Harvard Business School – EbonyLife Case Study,’ will be taught at Harvard Business School (HBS) to over 1,000 MBA students.
“EbonyLife turns 10 next year, so the case reflects on how we started and where we are today. It will also highlight our challenges along the way,” Abudu said. She revealed in an exclusive interview with BusinessDay that she is currently on the HBS campus in Boston where this case study will be taught, and also to share her story with the students and faculty.
What this means is that, first-year students at HBS will study a case about an African company, led by a Nigerian woman. It will become one of approximately 500 case studies read by students over the course of the two-year MBA programme. Nearly half of these cases are based on global organisations.
“I am looking forward to listening to them and answering their questions. I am humbled and honoured to be chosen for this, and I will always do all I can to encourage everyone out there on the possibilities and results that abound in daring to excel, because as I always say, if you can think it, you can do it,” Abudu said.
When Mo Abudu launched EbonyLife TV in 2013, her primary goal for the channel was to create a more positive narrative around Africa. What followed was a string of aspirational TV series to include Fifty, Castle & Castle, Sons of the Caliphate and The Governor, among others.
Her desire to change the narrative about Africa in the international scene birthed her love for filmmaking with the creation of EbonyLife Films in 2014. She has produced different blockbusters such as: Fifty, The Wedding Party, Chief Daddy, The Royal Hibiscus Hotel and Your Excellency. Furthermore, she was the executive producer of Òlòtūré, a feature film that exposes the shady business of human trafficking in Nigeria. The film premiered as a Netflix Original in October 2020.
In 2018, Sony Pictures Television (SPT) announced a three-year deal with EbonyLife TV that would include co-production of The Dahomey Warriors. In 2019, AMC Networks (USA) announced its partnership with EbonyLife to produce Nigeria 2099, an afro-futuristic crime-drama created by EbonyLife. Also, in June 2020, Netflix signed a multi-title deal with EbonyLife to create two original series and multiple branded films and a series. In February 2021, EbonyLife Media signed a First Look deal with Sony Pictures and a slate of co-produced film and television projects with Will and Jada Smith’s Westbrook Studios.
Most recently, EbonyLife Studios and Will Packer Productions are teaming to develop an untitled project, based on Evan Ratliff’s Bloomberg article, ‘The Fall of the Billionaire Gucci Master.’
The HBS case study is to be presented in two parts – A and B. Case study A chronicles the journey of EbonyLife Media from inception to December 2020, while case study B provides a summary of what has occurred between January and October 2021.
Having read case study A, the students will have to consider the choices told in the HBS case study abstract and give their analysis. In relating with Abudu and understanding case study B, they will discover what has changed since the case was written and what the value of their assessment and recommendations have been.
What this feat also means is that, Mo Abudu will be joining a long list of CEOs, including Warren Buffet and Elon Musk, whose strategies and decisions have been analysed in HBS case studies.
“At first, I was surprised by Harvard’s interest in us; however, I can now see how a diverse faculty and student body could benefit from looking at how companies in Africa and other parts of the world deal with challenges unique to their environment. I’m looking forward to the discussions and the students’ perspectives,” said Abudu.
She oversees the EbonyLife Group, which includes all EbonyLife Media assets and EbonyLife Place, Nigeria’s first luxury entertainment resort. She is also a part of OSCARS in the producer membership category, and she is the only African woman selected in this category. Forbes described her as “Africa’s Most Successful Woman,” while CNN said she was “Africa’s Queen of Media who conquered the continent.”
Abudu is highly sought after for her knowledge of the African and global creative industry. She has spoken at the Wharton School of Business, Cambridge University Judge School of Business, NYU, Oxford University and Harvard University. Throughout the years, Abudu has been a recipient of numerous awards and international recognitions.