Yale School of Management

Fall Global Social Entrepreneurship (GSE) Course

The Yale SOM Global Social Entrepreneurship course is designed to introduce students to practical issues faced by mission-driven social entrepreneurs, linking teams of Yale students with social enterprises (SEs) based in India. Student/SE teams work together to address specific management challenges faced by the SEs, culminating with the development of a set of recommendations (operational, financial or otherwise) to meet the identified challenges.

The social enterprises each send two representatives to Yale in late September for an intensive one-week program focused on both working with the student teams and on exploring conceptual frameworks and tools relevant to developing a business plan to address their management challenges. During the semester, each student team conducts relevant research, interacting regularly with their SE colleagues through email and conference calls, culminating in development of a plan and presentation addressing the management challenges they are jointly exploring.  In January 2012, students will travel to India, first to present their recommendations on-site to the SEs with whom they are working. Then all the participants will convene for a two-day conference in Mumbai at which students, faculty, Yale alumni, SE representatives, and invited guests will hear and discuss the plans and explore issues of import to social enterprises in India.

Below are descriptions of this year’s partners and projects.

Fall 2012 Global Social Entrepreneurship (GSE) Course Partners and Projects

Agastya’s long-term commitment towards its vision of enabling a creative India has a stated goal of reaching 50 million children and 1 million teachers by 2020. One significant challenge that Agastya faces in its efforts to scale-up its educational products and services across India involves human capital concerns, especially as they relate to the recruitment and retention of qualified and trained employees.  The SOM Team’s project for Agastya will consist of research and recommendations on best practices targeting specified stages of the human capital chain, including recruiting, onboarding and training, development, evaluation, and retention.  The final product will consist of a documented “Talent Management Strategy” that not only aims to incorporate best practices and recommendations, but also outlines potential scale-up alternatives that address India-specific human capital concerns which Agastya can consider as it pursues its expansion initiatives.

B-ABLE (BASIX Academy for Building Lifelong Employability Ltd.) was started in 2009 as a subsidiary of BASICS Ltd, one of India’s largest microfinance institutions and livelihood programs. B-ABLE’s programs are a response to a growing economic and social issue in India, a growing skills gap amongst Indian’s workforce – only 5% of India’s workforce currently has some form of vocational training.  B-ABLE currently has three models for delivering vocational skills & training – 1) traditional class room education targeting unemployed or underemployed people aged 18-30 in semi-urban areas, 2) rural “learning kiosks” equipped with a computer providing basic literacy, IT, English language instruction targeting those aged 15-18 not yet in the job market. 3) The third model, and the focus of our project, is an up-skilling model aimed at those who are already in the workforce, but may not have been formally trained and may benefit from additional training.
Our project is to identify models and best practices for up-skilling training around the world so that B-ABLE will be able to extend their program to new industries and populations as well as improve and innovate their delivery model and content.

“The Samriddhii brand is the product of a social enterprise model combining the efforts of the Kaushalya Foundation and the Knids Green distribution company to create a fully integrated fresh produce value chain in the Northern Indian state of Bihar. By eliminating several layers of exploitative middle men in the existing vegetable supply chain, Samriddhii is strategically positioned to facilitate better market access and information for small, marginalized and landless (SMAL) farmers in addition to organizing and supplying vendors through a proprietary vegetable-cart program and guaranteed buy-back system. The result is a 20-25% increase in net profits for farmers and vendor, more reliably fresh and hygienic produce supply for end consumers and a decrease in supply chain wastage from a 40% national average to less than 8%.
As an “enlightened” market intermediary, Samriddhii’s future growth is entirely dependent on its ability to sustain mutually beneficial relationships with its organized farmer and vendor network while operating its warehouse, packaging and distribution service at maximum efficiency. At the moment, Samriddhii is poised to begin operations at its newly constructed central warehouse facility with the anticipation of scaling rapidly in the city of Patna. In order to ensure that growth will not weaken its core value proposition of an integrated value chain, our Yale team will conduct an analysis of Samriddhii’s underlying cost structure and operational processes and identify key areas for targeted improvement. Our recommendations will focus on appropriate HR/OB interventions for increased efficiency and a thorough review of the pros and cons of various franchise models for an expanded vendor network.”

Swadhaar FinServe and Swadhaar FinAccess are two companies that share a common history and mission. FinServe was spun off from FinAccess in 2008 to provide financial services to the economically active urban poor in Mumbai. SFA focuses on credit-plus products and services, including financial education, insurance and savings facilitation.  Both FinServe and FinAccess believe that financial education and microfinance go hand in hand, and a strong commitment to both is an extension of their shared mission to improve the financial lives of the working poor. Swadhaar partnered with the GSE team to identify ways to strengthen the collaborative relationship between the two organizations, with the goal of using their respective areas of expertise in support of their shared mission.

TARA Machines is a social enterprise concentrating on facilitating high quality, affordable, green building materials for small and medium enterprises serving the needs of aspirations of under-served homeowners (www.taramachines.com).  To date, the group has predominantly worked across India with a few projects in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cameroon, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka.  TARA has engaged the team at Yale as part of the Global Social Entrepreneurship Program to help them understand their potential export opportunities. The team at SOM is accomplishing this by first establishing a group of target countries based on macroeconomic trends and available data. They are then performing deeper analysis of the housing markets within these countries in order to determine the suitability of Tara’s technology and devise a suitable entrance strategy (joint venture, franchise, partnerships, etc.).

Fall 2011 Global Social Entrepreneurship (GSE) Course Partners and Projects

Anudip Foundation

Anudip Foundation is dedicated to creating livelihood opportunities for impoverished people in rural areas and urban slums of India by:

     1. Setting up training centers for skilled IT professionals and entrepreneurs

     2. Employing its graduates to offer best in industry IT outsourcing solutions

     3. Placing our graduates in positions at business processing operations companies and other companies

     4. Providing financing and high-touch mentoring for graduates who set up IT-enabled businesses in their


The GSE team is focusing on helping Anudip develop its earned income strategy. We will gather secondary as well as primary research to assess trends in the US market for using business processing operations. We will also examine Anudip’s cost structure, product line and pricing, and recommend a strategy that will meet the needs of the future market.

ONergy is a renewable energy venture dedicated to providing rural, un-electrified villages with clean energy solutions for lighting, electricity, and cooking. Incorporated in 2009, the company offers a wide array of products ranging from solar lighting and electrification systems to solar cookers and smokeless cookstoves. Their goal is to be a hands-on, full-service energy solutions provider and to serve 200,000 households with a hub-and-spoke model of 50 Renewable Energy Centers within the next five years.

The GSE student team is working with ONergy to identify an operational and financial structure to expand its network of Renewable Energy Centers.

Rickshaw Bank
Based in Guwahati, Assam, and founded in 2004 as an internal program of the Delhi-based Centre for Rural Development, the Rickshaw Bank is a first of its kind rickshaw micro-leasing scheme that provides vulnerable and marginalized rickshaw pullers access to the necessary financing to purchase their own rickshaw asset and improve the quality of their lives.  Since inception, the organization has manufactured and distributed nearly 4,000 of its uniquely designed rickshaws to pullers in the state of Assam. To provide a holistic service, Rickshaw Bank bundles the financed rickshaw asset with insurance, registration and identity card, uniform and sandals, and training.  As a result of the Rickshaw Bank’s interventions, rickshaw pullers throughout Assam have been able to attain a greater level of financial independence, send their children to school, and provide higher quantity and quality of food for their families.

The Rickshaw Bank has successfully transitioned from a mere idea to a fully operational high-impact social enterprise, and it now stands at a crossroads of sorts.  The GSE team is helping Rickshaw Bank to chart its expansion, tackling questions such as: Is immediate expansion to other Indian states the correct plan? If so, what is the most appropriate method of expansion?  Where will the funding for future growth come from?

SEWA is an organization of poor, self-employed female workers who earn a living through their own labor or small businesses.  Originally founded as a trade union in 1972, SEWA now has over 1.3 million members across seven states.  SEWA’s mission is to organize self-employed women for full employment and self-reliance.  SEWA works with its members to provide a wide variety of educational, financial, health and social services, with the objective of helping members achieve better livelihoods.
SEWA is currently in the process of launching the Hariyali Project, which will offer energy-efficient cook stoves and solar lanterns for SEWA members to purchase through affordable financing. The cook stoves require 40% less wood than existing stoves, reducing time spent gathering wood by as much as an hour per day per household.  The reduction in wood used for cooking will also result in consistent annual reductions in carbon emissions compared to emissions levels from existing stoves. Monetizing these emissions reductions through the sale of carbon credits would create additional value for SEWA members.  To assist with the implementation of the Hariyali Project, there are two Yale SOM teams working on different parts of the project.  The Macro team will be working on creating a framework for developing and assessing feasible carbon financing structures for the Hariyali project.  The Micro team will be refining the household-level financial model and using the results to inform a marketing plan to clearly establish and communicate the benefits of the lanterns and cookstoves to SEWA members.  Both teams will work closely with SEWA to put together an implementation plan that supports the macro and micro aspects of the Hariyali project.

ZMQ Software Systems
Delhi-based ZMQ Software Systems was founded in the 1990s by two brothers (Subhi and Hilmi Quraishi) with a shared passion for creating custom technology solutions for social causes. Since that time, ZMQ has grown to become a social enterprise of over 30 employees working with an array of international partners. Their team of computer engineers has created over 100 games and applications for various platforms, including mobile phone applications. Many of these software programs aim to educate and raise awareness about a diverse set of social issues including women’s rights, pre-natal health care, HIV/AIDS prevention, climate change, and life skills learning. ZMQ is committed to advancing “Mobile for All” initiatives to help bridge the gap of digital parity. They have a history of partnering with non-governmental organizations, private corporations, mobile operators, educational institutions, and government entities to put their products in the hands of millions.

Given the diverse range of products in ZMQ’s portfolio, developing and replicating a successful business model has been challenging. The Yale Global Social Entrepreneurship team is working with ZMQ to help modify internal organizational structures to foster a repeatable business model that supports scaling up. This project involves analyzing ZMQ’s product case studies, selecting a product to scale, identifying clear roles and responsibilities for management and staff, defining the product’s cost structure, and developing a financial model for scaling this product.

Fall 2010 Global Social Entrepreneurship (GSE) Course Partners and Projects

Appropriate Rural Technology Institute (ARTI)
ARTI is a non-profit organization established in 1996. Based in Pune, Maharashtra, and working in a dozen states in India, ARTI’s mission is to act as “an instrument of rural development through application of scientific knowledge and innovative technologies.” In particular, ARTI was created to ensure that rural populations in India would not be left out of innovations in technology development.
ARTI’s work is focused in three main areas:

1) Research and development of appropriate energy and agricultural technologies, including biomass powered cooking technologies and agricultural methods to improve crop growth and diversification.
2) Information and technology dissemination through training.
3) Standardization of technologies to ensure ease of implementation among rural populations

The Yale GSE team is working with ARTI on developing a business plan to increase its earned income by expanding its biogas consultancy services. One of the technologies developed by ARTI is a system which produces biogas from urban food waste. Clients include housing societies, hostels, hotels, restaurants, and industrial canteens. This technology not only utilizes biodegradable garbage but produces biogas, a clean source of energy. The GSE team will determine the potential scale of its biogas consultancy services as a source of income for ARTI.


Drishtee is a social enterprise, with a particular focus on women, committed to building economic opportunity for villagers in rural India. Drishtee’s vision is to make marginalized communities more efficient, self-sufficient and equitable. Based in Delhi and working in eight states, Drishtee offers a range of products and services focused around establishing supply chain routes in remote locations. With each supply chain route serving 20 – 25 villages, Drishtee:

  • •Identifies potential entrepreneurs and trains them in the  specific skill sets they require to operate a “Drishtee kiosk” franchise;
  • • Sets up kiosks to enable the franchisee to deliver services such as health, education and microfinance;
  • • Provides franchisees and other rural retailers access to products such as eyeglasses, mobile phones, and agricultural goods;
  • • Sets up livelihood services, such as business process outsourcing (BPO) centers with computer stations and telephones for doing data-entry, digitization, and outbound calling.

The Yale GSE team is working with Drishtee on developing a marketing strategy to scale up its rural business process outsourcing (BPO) centers, which generate opportunity for young people to deploy skills locally, providing a means for local villagers to increase their earnings.

micro Home Solutions
mHS is a new, multi-disciplinary social enterprise based in New Delhi. Its objective is to provide economically viable housing solutions for under-served populations, starting with urban communities in India and ultimately creating a model that can serve communities around the world.
India currently has the largest urban population in the world outside of China. Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai are among the 20 largest mega-cities on earth with over 10 million inhabitants each. Access to shelter, basic services and home ownership has been out of reach for a majority of urban households.
mHS’s core principles are:

  • • Affordability – designing products and interventions that are accessible to communities and respect their needs, ability to pay and livelihood patterns;

• Community – mobilizing community institutions and groups of individuals to come together to design, govern and manage their own living spaces ;
• Design – bringing quality design to underserved communities and locations where the need is greatest. Design will be innovative, environmentally conscious and customized to local needs

In partnership with microfinance institutions and community-based organizations, mHS has launched “Design Home Solutions” (DHS) to provide customized technical assistance to low-income, urban households interested in new construction and home improvements.
The Yale GSE team’s project is to assess the current DHS pilot project in Delhi and to develop recommendations for DHS’s scaling up in Delhi and beyond.

RUDI Multi Trading Company

RUDI, a subsidiary of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), operates under the Gandhian philosophy that wealth created within the village should circulate within the village. Some firms have figured out how to sell mass market goods to rural India, and other firms have figured out how to sell rural Indian goods to the mass market. RUDI strives to be one of the first organizations to master the process of producing goods at the rural village level, and then selling those goods back to the village and to the mass market.
RUDI achieves these objectives by branding, marketing, and selling agricultural and daily household products created or purchased by the members of SEWA. Although RUDI primarily focuses on sales and marketing, it also plays a significant role in the development of the supply chain it needs to support its sales efforts. RUDI’s supply chain is as follows:

  • • Small rural farmers (SEWA members) produce a diverse range of high quality goods in small quantities;
  • • SEWA’s District Associations purchase agricultural products directly from the SEWA farmers at market rates;
  • • SEWA’s District Associations clean, inspect, and measure the agricultural products in their processing centers before packaging the goods under the RUDI name;
  • • RUDI purchases the final packaged goods from the processing centers and sells them through a variety of sales channels.

RUDI’s goal is to establish itself as a national brand over the next 10 years, as well as to increase the range of processed agro-commodities sold under the RUDI brand. RUDI aims to expand its reach in rural villages through its salesforce of local women, or “RUDIbens,” as it develops relationships with large retailers and bulk buyers, in order to enhance the market for RUDI products.

The Yale GSE team is working with RUDI to develop a financial model that captures key inputs (e.g., a product mix that balances social and financial returns) and their effects on key outcomes (e.g., how to increase sales and profit per RUDIben as well as for RUDI overall), which RUDI can use as an ongoing business planning tool.

TEIL (Tea Estates India Limited)

A Woodbriar Group Company
The Woodbriar Group (www.woodbriargroup.com) is a successful for-profit enterprise, operating in several sectors focused on rural areas. As the largest private tea producer in India, it employs 11,000 individuals, most of whom are women. Along with the main tea plantation business Woodbriar, under its Tea Estates India Limited (TEIL) business, has devoted limited resources thus far to its tourism business. TEIL intends to build its eco-tourism operations to achieve positive social and environmental impacts, as well as financial sustainability.
The primary goals of the eco-tourism business include taking currently underutilized assets (both real estate and human capital) and revitalizing/redeploying them. This includes employing workers in jobs commensurate to their training and making use of otherwise underutilized skills and expertise. In turn, this process creates new avenues for rural livelihoods by both increasing employment opportunities and providing higher incomes for the employees.
TEIL currently owns several unique historical sites that are rich in natural beauty, surrounded by tea plantations, and heritage homes, which reflect Colonial construction and architecture. These sites are located near various wildlife reserves and sanctuaries in southern India.
The Yale GSE team will help TEIL develop a marketing strategy for its eco-tourism expansion, making recommendations on product, price, place, and promotion strategies, including social, environmental and financial metrics upon which to build – and evaluate – the business.

Fall 2009 Global Social Entrepreneurship (GSE) Course Partners and Projects

ACCESS  Development Services

Established in March 2006, ACCESS was set up to promote retail banking services in underprivileged communities throughout India. Currently ACCESS supports 125 microfinance institutions s across the country with an aggregate client base of around 4 million and a portfolio totaling nearly US$ 200 million. An ACCESS subsidiary, the Access Microfinance Alliance (AmFA), provides an array of services to smaller and mid-sized microfinance institutions in order to strengthen their capacity and to attract financing from banks.
The GSE team worked with ACCESS to address the challenge of how more debt capital could be attracted by ASSIST member organizations, concentrating primarily on the perceived risk that these smaller MFIs hold and how to overcome the obstacles to securing capital that this perceived risk poses. GSE analyzed the use of ratings, certifications and financial instruments for risk reduction, as well as identifying the attributes of MFIs and MFI networks that are most valued by banks.

Akanksha Foundation

The Akanshka Foundation aims to impact the lives of less-privileged children and to enable them to maximize their potential and change their lives. Akanshka runs 57 after school “centers” that provide quality education for children living in slum communities of Mumbai and Pune. In 2007, Akanshka decided to expand into formal schools. Today Akanksha operates the School Project, a replicable model for urban schools based on high-performing charter schools in the U.S. The School Project currently has six schools serving 1,000 children.

The GSE team worked with Akanshka to address the problem of teacher supply and quality, one of the Foundation’s main challenges for delivering high-quality education in its schools and centers. GSE examined existing teacher training and sourcing models in the U.S. to develop recommendations on strategies for Akanksha to pursue to ensure its short-term and long-term success.

Mann Deshi Business School

Mann Deshi Mahila provides poor rural women serve poor women in the drought-prone areas of western Maharashtra and northwestern Karnataka with the tools necessary to achieve financial independence and self-sufficiency. The business school offers business education and other non-financial services to the clients of Mann Deshi Bank, a cooperative bank run by and for women. The business school seeks to complement the financial services work of the bank in order to help their clients progress out of poverty and into financial independence.

GSE worked with Mann Deshi’s Business School to analyze the sustainability of its existing cost-revenue structure. The analysis provided a framework to understand the financial and programmatic implications of expanding their course offerings and geographic reach. The GSE team also made recommendations for best practices based on research of peer organizations with similar financial-services-plus-education models.

SEWA Mangers School

SEWA Managers School (SMS) is a branch of the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), a trade union established for poor, self-employed women in India. SMS was created as a means to educate “grassroots” managers who can then disseminate lessons and business skills to women entrepreneurs in rural and urban communities. Since 2005 SMS has trained 1,500 “master trainers” to reach over 700,000 trainees. 

The GSE team worked with SMS on an analysis of how best to balance the goals of achieving long-term financial sustainability, continuing program growth, and adhering to its mission to increase the self-sustainability of SEWA members. The team evaluated the current financial structure and created a comprehensive financial model to analyze the costs and revenues of existing and potential strategies. 


Udyogini provides business services to train and develop women entrepreneurs in three states in northern India. The organization works with poor women to improve their skills and their knowledge of the markets they operate in. Udyogini has recently identified an opportunity to connect tribal women in the Northeast state of Assam with the bamboo industry. Udyogini believes that tribal women can play an important role in the supply-side of the industry, weaving bamboo into mats for industrial use. 

The GSE team worked with Udyogini to determine the viability of this potential bamboo-weaving business. Together they conducted research on the existing bamboo industry as well as regional supply and labor. The team developed a market analysis and financial model for the potential business.