Yale and FGV Students Team Up to Consult for Social Enterprises in Brazil

A group of Yale MBA students traveled to São Paolo, Brazil, during spring break to provide pro-bono consulting services to social enterprises.

The students are taking part in Global Social Enterprise (GSE), an elective course and student-led club at the Yale School of Management. Founded in 2004, GSE allows students to apply their management skills to pro-bono consulting projects for clients in a developing country, while strengthening Yale SOM’s ties to the global community. The students work virtually with their clients while completing coursework focused on learning about the selected country, entrepreneurship in developing countries, social enterprises, and skills applicable to their team projects. The spring break trip allows students to work on-site with their clients.

This year, the Yale MBA students have teamed up with their counterparts at FGV Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo (FGV), a member of the Global Network for Advanced Management. FGV students are integrated into the GSE course and teamwork and will receive academic credit at their institution. They watched recordings of lectures delivered by Tony Sheldon, executive director of the Program on Social Enterprise at Yale SOM, and worked virtually with their teams to complete client work leading up to the week in Brazil. 

“The FGV students were critical to their teams during the in-country week where they not only helped Yale students understand the business climate in Brazil but also enhanced client deliverables by providing country-specific insights for data collection and recommendations,” says Anita Jivani ’15, a teaching assistant in the course.

FGV was also a factor in selecting Brazil as the location for this year’s course. “Brazil was selected because of the robust and dynamic social enterprise climate as well as the incredible leadership at FGV on the topic,” says Jivani. “Edgard Barki, for example, is a professor at FGV who has researched issues related to social enterprise and the [economic] base of the pyramid since 2004. The combination of a growing social enterprise space and the relationships and experiences that Edgard brought to the students made Brazil an attractive country for this year’s student teams.”

The Yale-FGV teams are working with five Brazilian social enterprises this semester:

  • 4YOU2 is a certified B corporation that is dedicated to bringing high-quality English language instruction to underprivileged Brazilians. Its current challenge is maintaining significant growth and impact while maintaining quality and low costs. A GSE team is collaborating with 4YOU2 to analyze the viability of different expansion models that will help it meet its short- and long-term quality, pricing, and sustainability goals.
  • Projeto CIES is a nonprofit organization that brings mobile medical care, prevention, and education to communities in need throughout Brazil. In the last two years, CIES has grown to 10 times its original size, which has led to internal challenges as CIES struggles to support its growth. A GSE team is working with CIES to develop a planning tool with key indicators and metrics to help the organization develop the infrastructure for a growing impact on communities throughout Brazil.
  • Avante is a B corporation with the mission of providing quality and affordable financial services for lower income families living in favelas. A GSE team is working with Avante to help improve and scale its financial education web platform so that it reaches more individuals and effectively builds trust with consumers who have been excluded from the financial mainstream.
  • Dr.consulta is a network of low-cost medical clinics that offer quality services to families who would not otherwise have access to healthcare. Founded in 2011, dr.consulta operates 5 clinics in São Paulo and plans to open 10 more next year. Students are working with the organization to develop a patient lifetime revenue value methodology that will guide the organization’s strategic decisions moving forward. 
  • Peixes da Amazonia is an aquaculture organization committed to producing native Amazonian fish for human consumption in a sustainable way. Their business model helps local, independent farmers to take advantage of this regular source of income and use their natural resources in an environmentally responsible way. A GSE team is helping Peixes da Amazonia explore different markets and create a strategy to expand its reach.

Combining the strengths of Yale and FGV enhanced the experience for both the students and their clients. “We saw Yale students combine their knowledge of global benchmarking for social enterprises with the FGV students’ research in the favelas in São Paulo,” says Jivani. “The result is a deep exchange between students at Yale and FGV, leading to a stronger and more relevant set of recommendations for the social enterprise clients in Brazil.”

The students will continue to work with their clients virtually for the remainder of the semester; the course will culminate in a final report and presentations to the clients.

Previous GSE destinations have included Colombia, Madagascar, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa, and Thailand.