Market research in the traditional business setting is a breeze. Purchase some Nielsen or Forrester reports, run some customer focus groups, analyse your competitors’ financial statements, mine some retail data – and you’ve got the general patterns and trends you need to make a solid strategic business decision.
Much of my work in Kenya has focused on understanding the market and the needs related to maternity health and determining how to establish a sustainable model to provide quality health services to low-income women before, during and after labour. But where to begin? We have no market research reports. There are no systems to capture consumer data.
Reading scholarly journals and World Health Organisation white papers will only get me so far (really not very far at all). In order to understand the health marketplace for poor consumers, I must see it with my own eyes, hear it with my own ears and speak directly to as many patients and doctors in low-income neighbourhoods as I possibly can. I call this 3-dimensional market research (3DMR). Read more
School children learning without desks
“How can I help to get these kids a Lapdesk?” – I get this question all the time from my friends and classmates. And I want to have a good answer. An actionable, simple answer such as: “Go to our website, choose a school from the database and buy a Lapdesk for them.”
So how can our company make this happen? One of my main goals this summer is to launch an online initiative and to develop a plan for scaling it up – creating a home for individual donors who will become “Lapdesk friends”.
While our current website www.lapdesk.co.za is functional and rich in information, I want to take it to the next level: to turn it into a dynamic communications platform connecting Lapdesk’s partners, sponsors and beneficiaries. I want to enable individuals to donate Lapdesks to a school of their choice and to track our progress – all online. Read more
Everyone who works at the Environmental Defense Fund wants to change the meaning of the term “business as usual”.
The EDF was founded with its original intent to do just that, through whatever means necessary, to force those who were harming the natural environment to stop and pay society for their ecological “sins.”
You might even be familiar with its old unofficial slogan, “sue the bastards”. Despite this history, the EDF may currently be the leading proponent of market-based solutions and for working with corporations to find “the ways that work”. How did this happen?
This morning I found myself yet again in the conference room, this time with Fred Krupp, the president of EDF for the past 25 years. With these questions in my mind, I was priveleged to hear at first hand from the man who was instrumental in that change. Read more
One of the first tasks I was asked to tackle for the California Fisheries Fund was the challenge of measuring the performance of the fund and its mission impact. Not in strictly financial terms, either. The goals of the CFF are three-fold:
Increase conservation measures supporting commercial fish stocks and their natural habitats.
Help revitalise California’s coastal fishing communities after decades of economic decline.
Assist fishery related businesses to make the transition from open-access to a catch-share based management regime.
Capitalised currently at $5M, you’ll notice something missing from those goals: nothing about earning the investors a financial return. While the goal of the fund is to remain solvent and self-supporting, this is a mission-driven, financial instrument, providing low-cost capital to higher risk businesses in need. Read more
I always find it fascinating to compare issues facing health systems in countries in different geographies with drastically different socio-economic characteristics and needs. The problems and potential solutions are often more similar than one would expect…
In the US healthcare reform debate, the issue of incentives for doctors has been a critical focal point. The US health insurance system relies heavily on a fee-for-service model, which tends to result in higher overall costs stemming from increased administrative costs and higher incomes for doctors. Read more
Imagine: You are nine years old. You go to school. It’s winter. You enter the unheated classroom and sit in your chair or on the floor. And then you start your daily lessons… But wait – you don’t have anything to write on. You don’t have a desk…
Today, I had a life altering experience. I helped with a Lapdesk handover ceremony in King Zwelithini Primary School in Soweto (a Johannesburg township only 20 minutes away from the city’s glossy financial district). The students, wearing tidy green uniforms, were waiting for us with such excitement on their faces, singing and dancing to greet us.
A warm welcome by the school choir
Our client and the Lapdesk team unveiled the surprise – 385 colourful, new Lapdesks stacked in neat piles, waiting to find an owner. For many of the children, this will be the first new thing they’ve ever owned. Theirs to take home and do homework, theirs to use at school every day.
Jacob Ramaru, Lapdesk’s National Field Operations Manager, led the ceremony. He is a master at that – the kids were laughing and reciting after him in four different languages – incredibly inspiring to watch! The dreams and energy warmed up the classroom – future lawyers, doctors, accountants and presidents shared aspirations in one voice! (Engineers were not as numerous…)
Jacob talking to the students
Now, what exactly is a handover ceremony? Read more
Five weeks ago, I left the comforting environs of Cambridge, Massachusetts and MIT Sloan for the unknown challenges awaiting me with the California Fisheries Fund.
Anticipating a huge cultural shift, I was prepared for pretty much anything, other than the highly professional, financial district high-rise in San Francisco where the CFF is co-located with the EDF.
I was also not expecting that I would find myself using nearly every subject I covered in my first year of MBA studies. Within the first two weeks.
No, that is not an exaggeration. Read more
Greetings readers and to my fellow MBA bloggers!
It has been a little over a month since I touched down in Nairobi, but in terms of knowledge and experience accumulated, it feels like eons. I’ve had the privilege of working with Acumen Fund, a global social venture fund dedicated to providing critical goods and services to the Base of the Pyramid (BoP), people earning under $4 per day. My focus this summer is on healthcare systems in East Africa, specifically mapping out the ecosystem for healthcare products and services and assisting with due diligence on pipeline investments with the potential to improve the health and well-being of low-income patients. Read more
Did I just hear those words? Having been distracted by the brilliant 28th floor view of the Bay Bridge, I was quickly thrust back into reality.
As I was sitting in on a conference call with the Director of the Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) Corporate Partnership Program, the title referenced phrase is how he described the expectations of his business “partner,” FedEx’s chief engineer. It wasn’t too far off from the sentiment I was expecting when I first arrived here five weeks ago, although I must admit I didn’t hold quite the negative bias about it. After all, I had searched out and taken a summer position with an explicitly environmentally oriented organisation for a reason. Read more
Over the coming weeks, four MBA students will share their internship experiences as they work with not-for-profit organisations. Follow our blog as the students put their business school knowledge into practice across the world.
You can read our full business education coverage at www.ft.com/businesseducation Read more