Global Social Enterprise Teams Bring Back Lessons from Consulting in South Africa

Every spring, the Yale School of Management’s Global Social Entrepreneurship course gives student teams the opportunity to act as consultants for social enterprises in a developing country. This year, six teams addressed a range of projects with enterprises in South Africa. Students spent a half semester working with their organizations remotely before traveling to South Africa in March. They completed their work in May.

Teams shared some key takeaways during presentations hosted by the Social Impact Lab on April 3 and April 10.

GW Foundation

Brianna Ficcadenti ’18, Eva Jiayu Wang ’18, Scott Lensing ’18, Yihana von Ritter ’18, and Douglas Wynne ’17 partnered with the GW Foundation, a nonprofit organization that trains women from Cape Town townships to bring high-quality early childcare education to low-income communities through a franchise model. The students explored the viability of expanding the model to middle-income neighborhoods, using revenue from these operations to subsidize new centers. Students found that the market size and willingness of customers to pay were the key variables to be assessed. “Finding an investor who is really committed to the social aspect of the venture is key,” Wynne said.

Livity Africa

Carlene Liriano ’18, Carol Tsoi ’18, Keith Faria ’17,  Nidhi Gurnani MAM ’17, and Lissa Glasgo, a 2017 graduate of  the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, worked with Livity Africa, a training program that teaches digital skills to African youth. The student team evaluated Livity’s business model and the metrics that can be used to track participants’ progress from application, through training, to job placement and retention. “We saw there was a great opportunity for Livity to leverage its Facebook community,” Faria said. “Alumni can talk to each other and arrange meetings that reinforce their learning.”


Meg Kearns ’18, Chenault Taylor ’18, Michael Rooney ’18, Ariel Hudes ’18, and Jazmine da Costa SOM/FES ’17 partnered with Praekelt, a company that uses open source technology to deliver important information and services to more than 100 million people in more than 50 countries in Africa. The students focused on Praekelt’s flagship program, MomConnect, a partnership with the government that provides educational text messages to pregnant women. The students researched new revenue models and recommended strategies. “The trip to Cape Town helped us understand the pretty profound impact this platform has on moms,” Hudes said.


Elle Brunsdale SOM/FES ’19, Billy Marks ’18, Seerat Vedvyas ’18, Kendra Berenson ’17, and Jenny Poon ’18 worked with the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi), which develops technology and innovation clusters that empower local entrepreneurs and economic growth across South Africa. The students researched best practices for the organization to employ in establishing new EdTech clusters that will improve educational outcomes in South Africa. “CiTi needs to be not only a hub for innovation but also an ecosystem manager,” Poon said.

Ikamva Youth

Stephen Nabinger ’18,  Jason Najjoum SOM/DRAMA ’18, Sofia Leitner-Laserna ’18, Tim Welch ’18, and Jillian Anderson ’18, a joint-degree student at Yale SOM and  the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, partnered with Ikamva Youth, an educational enterprise that seeks to empower disadvantaged youth through the power of peer-to-peer counseling which can enable more widespread access to education and employment training. Students explored how the organization can maintain its democratic governance structure while enabling rapid growth. “We believe there needs to be a clear and achievable definition of democracy that can be shared throughout the organization,” Letiner-Laserna said.


Katharina Davies ’18,  Abdul-Majeed Ibrahim FES ’17,  Erika Drazen SOM/FES ’17,  Maanya Condamoor SOM/FES ’18, and Rebecca TeKolste, a student at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, worked with YWaste, a waste management and compost company that helps South Africans reduce the amount of waste they produce and promotes a circular economy based on recycling of products. The student team explored scaling opportunities and developed a financial model to track operations.