Duke’s Clark Scholars Take to Cape Town to Support Local Businesses

Class of 2026 A. James Clark Scholars from Duke University in Cape Town in 2023.

Margie Clarke’s physiotherapy practice in Cape Town, South Africa, was struggling. Having recently branched out on her own, she found herself at a crossroads of having deep expertise in physiotherapy but needing support in business expansion.

Enter the Duke Clark Scholars.

Founded in 2016, the A. James Clark Scholars Program helps underrepresented students and those demonstrating financial need majoring in engineering reach their goals. Each of the 11 institutions involved has implemented the program in its own unique way

Duke’s approach has garnered attention for its particular focus on leadership in engineering through entrepreneurship. 

The program is about more than just academic enrichment; it offers different cultural perspectives, with hands-on learning and professional experiences that cross borders, as well as a required service component. First in 2019 and then again this past summer, Clark Scholars visited local businesses in Cape Town, South Africa.

The students quickly committed to projects ranging from website development to market research for Clarke’s physiotherapy practice. They also conducted a competitor analysis and even formulated a go-to-market marketing strategy, ensuring that Clarke’s practice had a robust roadmap for growth.

She emphasized that the success of this collaboration was rooted in open communication. Regular check-ins, feedback sessions and goal-setting ensured both the students and her practice derived maximum value from the experience. 

“Five months ago, I started my own practice … The impact [the students] had was really tremendous. They helped me grow my business,” Clarke said. “With the students’ diverse backgrounds, they undertook a range of projects from web development to strategic planning.”

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