April 19, 2019

Portugal Spring Break 2019

Each year, a different country around the globe is chosen to explore during spring break and learn about entrepreneurs and leaders of businesses across the globe. This year, students had the opportunity to study in Portugal including Lisbon and Porto for the International Institute MBA course. 

Hear what students have to say about their experience.

Jonathan Lerner, MBA ‘19
Going to Portugal was a pretty amazing experience.  Throughout our time in Lisbon and Porto, it was fascinating to learn about the entrepreneurial ecosystems being developed and how larger corporations and schools are aiding in their development.  My favorite aspect of the trip was touring the future site of the Lisbon Creative Hub, one of the largest entrepreneurial hubs in the world.  I loved learning about how these hubs do not only impact business in the city, but also the culture and day to day lives of the people.  Overall, the people of Portugal were very nice and accepting, and I am very excited to go back soon!”

Shanelle Smith, MBA ‘19
Portugal was an amazing experience, and in particular, I loved meeting with a local start-up at their office on Oeiras Beach in Lisbon.  One of the best parts of our trip was immersing ourselves in Portuguese business culture and history. We got a chance to visit Palacio Nacional Da Pena in Sintra which told the rich history of the Portuguese royal family, and we visited Amorim Cork, a cork manufacturer. At Amorim, we learned how they are leveraging the sustainability of their product to grow their business beyond cork stoppers but into other industries. For example, Amorim is using cork to create shock pads for artificial turf with the hopes of lessening athletic injuries. I also did a little shopping in Porto, Portugal and bought jeweled headpieces for my wedding in October. I can't wait to have a little of Portugal with me on that day.”

Bailey Capelle, MBA ‘20
"During Spring Break 2019, we, as Case Western Reserve University MBA students, visited three cities in Portugal: Lisbon, Sintra, and Porto. Within those cities, we had to opportunity to observe a US/Portuguese acquisition in-progress as well as to learn about local start-ups and other entrepreneurial endeavors taking place throughout the country. The companies we interacted with and the people we met were simply amazing. None, however, we quite as amazing as Cozinha Popular da Mouraria.

The company our group was to focus on is Cozinha Popular da Mouraria, and we were fortunate enough to see the organization in action: we had the privilege of experiencing lunch as their customers. The experience was humbling, and I wish we could have spent more time hearing about the company’s missions and programs. The founder is truly an amazing woman.

The overall mission of the non-profit is to empower refugees and former prisoners through gastronomy, and the organization stays true to its mission by hiring the unemployed within its own neighborhood. Every chef that works in the kitchen has roots in the area, making the organization feel more like a family than place of employment. When the founder was discussing her desires to grow the organization she followed her goals with the idea that, although they want to grow to be able to help more people, they “cannot lose their soul” in the process. Therefore, they have implemented a slow growth model in hopes of maintaining a people-centered organization.  

The food reflects the multicultural traditions of the neighborhood, which does more than simply fill people’s stomachs. The connecting of cultures on the table creates an equalizing space. In this space everyone eats together, regardless of experiences and backgrounds. As foreigners, we felt this love first hand; we were immediately accepted, and were served amazing food (Feijoada, Bacalhau à Bras, Cálso Verde, and more!). 

The beauty of this non-profit does not stop with the restaurant. The organization also spearheads urban gardening projects within the neighborhood. Currently, there is a group of employees that monitor the fruit trees within the city as well as within citizens’ backyards to ensure that no ripe fruit is wasted. The founder alluded to more projects to come. I hope to soon learn more as we continue to support and follow their growth." 

Learn more about the MBA program at Weatherhead.