Last fall and winter, through the Global Social Entrepreneurship course, five student teams had the opportunity to act as consultants for Indian social enterprises on a range of projects. They spent a half semester working with the organizations remotely before traveling to India in January, and then completed their work in early March.
The students shared some key takeaways during presentations hosted by the Social Impact Lab on March 2 and March 9.
TARA Livelihood Academy
Brittan Berry ’16, Sarah Esty ’16, Prabudh Goel ’16, Fumitaka Osumi ’16, and Jeremiah Ratadhi Setiadharma MAM ’16 partnered with TARA Livelihood Academy, a career training organization based in New Delhi that has ambitious growth plans over the next five years.
The students worked with TARA to identify objective measures of success for its training centers, create a decision-making tool to identify promising growth opportunities, and move toward long-term financial sustainability.
The biggest reflection that we all took away was the importance of being on the ground, in person.
Partly, it’s about building relationships with the clients. Partly, it’s about actually seeing what they do. Especially when you’re working across cultures, it’s much easier to break through barriers when you’re sitting right next to someone, and you can see them face-to-face, ask questions, and get to know each other.
Another finding we took away is that the clients don’t always know what they want, and your job as a good consultant is to figure out what they actually need. You have to dig deeper to figure out their real goals, their real struggles, and what you’re capable of providing that’s going to be helpful and that’s attentive to this deeper need.”
—Sarah Esty ’16
Noah Aptekar ’16, Sharon Mwale SPH ’16, Michael Perrin SPH ’16, Jared Petravicius ’16, and Yuli Setiadewi ’16 worked with Neurosynaptic Communications, a Bangalore-based company that provides hardware and software systems to remote telemedicine clinics in rural India.
The students helped Neurosynaptic assess its social impact performance and revamp its business model to better ensure steady revenue by optimizing financial and operational processes.
There is no perfect operations model, but we came up with scenarios sensitive to three factors: human capital, geographic location, and patient flows.
We first wanted to make sure that the centers were helping maintain the quality of healthcare and patient safety, and then we wanted to focus on how they could help enable more timely care. We learned from the patients that time is their most important resource. It’s one of the reasons why they don’t travel to see doctors, and why it was exciting to have telemedicine bringing the care to them.
As a social enterprise, it was essential for the company to have a tool that the company could use to measure its impact, which was important, but difficult to track. It’s hard to know which measures to use, but we thought that these three—clients’ financial savings, time savings, and women’s empowerment—would create a robust understanding of what they were helping clinics accomplish and of the real social impact they were having.”
—Sharon Mwale MPH ’16
Other teams included:
- Diego Arosemena Navas MAM ’16, Emina Bajra ’16, Megha Ghildyal ’16, Zoë Lloyd ’17, and Andrea Mak ’16, who partnered with mHS (micro Home Solutions) City Lab, a social venture that aims to improve the quality and safety of housing for low-income communities and design solutions for smart, resilient, and inclusive cities.
- Duncan Hinkle ’16, Vincent Mativandlela MAM ’16, Sanjna Malpani FES ’17, Laura Melendrez MAM ’16, and Pinnapa Satitpatanapan ’16, who partnered with ECS (Environmental Conservation Society) ONganic, an effort to connect rural farmers growing organic food directly to Indian consumers in order to increase the farmers’ livelihood and decrease exposure to dangerous pesticides.
- Allison Cordell Jackson Institute ’16, Marguerite Harden FES ’16, Pamela Jao ’17, Abdul Majeed Osman MAM ’16, and Molly Zeff ’16, who partnered with ILRT (BASIX Institute of Livelihood Research and Training) on an initiative to help small-scale, geographically-isolated farmers work together to improve their access to markets and to launch their own processing facilities.