Last summer, more than 55 MBA students in the Social Enterprise Program participated in the Summer Fellowship Program. Their internships took place at a variety of organizations, from NGOs to venture capital firms. The fellows helped the organizations develop strategic planning, financial analysis and operational improvements. Students decamped to locations near and far — from Washington, D.C. to Cambodia — for 10 weeks and along the way kept journals about their experiences, which can be found online. Here are excerpts:
Jesus Rodriguez ’10
Entrepreneurship, Social Venture
Where Connect Us, a social start-up that is a pioneer in the use of cell-phone technology to improve healthcare for low-income people
What: To learn everything possible, from the inside, about a social venture start-up in order to start one myself in the future. As part of a team of three, with CEO Marc Lara ’04, I was able to do a little of everything: work on technical specifications, create selling presentations, review operations and conduct focus groups.
The takeaway: I was involved in the company’s negotiations for a $1.5 million contract with a pharmaceutical company. In the end, it did not come together, but I learned a lot of negotiation strategy. It also taught me that working in social venture is all about emotions and risks!
Jake Goldberg ’10
International Development, NGO
Where: PEPY, an NGO organization in the United States and Cambodia focused on improving standards of living in rural areas and education
What: To find distribution channels for the Hipster, a money belt constructed from khroma, traditional Cambodian scarves, and manufactured by women who are former sex workers; develop an e-commerce site and create a sales fulfillment plan for exports to the United States.
The takeaway: It was very powerful to be able to help these women market and sell their product on an international scale and help them start to find a way out of poverty. I also learned valuable lessons in pricing, exporting and distribution.
Melissa Cheong ’09
Investment, Business Development
Where: Enterprise Solutions to Poverty; Innosight Ventures
What: Research and deliver a list of industry contacts that have a high probability of evolving into valuable strategic or financial relationships for Innosight to make investments in the social venture space.
The takeaway: We had originally thought that targeting individual social angel investors would be most successful, but it became apparent we had more to gain targeting organizations and institutional investors. This meant we had to change our financing model. I learned that even though a lot of the early work we did on our plan wouldn’t be used, the experience was invaluable.
Learn more about the Summer Fellows Program and read more journal entries from the 2009 fellows.
Photos courtesy of the Social Enterprise Program