Daily Archives: July 24, 2009

Maria Karaivanova

Everyone goes to Harvard Business School eager to start their business careers. Not me, at least not yet. This summer I decided to volunteer in Africa before setting off to a full-time job.

Lapdesks in action

Lapdesks in action

I am writing from Johannesburg, South Africa where I’m working at a company called Lapdesk.

I first heard of Lapdesk on my first day of class at Harvard when I was handed a case study about the company. And I was confused. I was at Harvard Business School. I expected to learn about a Fortune 500 company or a famous CEO. Why were we focused on a South African company whose goal was to eradicate classroom desk shortages throughout Africa by manufacturing ergonomically designed Lapdesks made out of high quality recyclable plastic?

What is ergonomically? Good question – they’re shaped like kidney beans and have a comfortable handle.

After an inspiring discussion, combined with a 20 minute video conference with the founder, Shane Immelman, I realised why. There are 80 million children throughout Africa without a desk. That is a huge business opportunity. Lapdesk is addressing this social problem, with a dynamic private sector proposition. Read more >>

Abhay Nihalani

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 >>

Jon Gensler

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 >>

Myha Truong

I have now surpassed the halfway point of my three-month internship with Multilingual Community Interpreter Services (MCIS) in Toronto. For the past 8 weeks, the bulk of my time has been devoted to writing responses to Request for Proposals (RFPs) and developing a framework to help MCIS work towards its social impacts and measuring the outcomes of these impacts.

While a generalisation, it is accurate to say that many non-profits devote a large portion of their time and resources chasing scarce and short-term funding, in order to stay in business. It comes as no surprise then that I have written two RFP responses to date. I admit, I do feel the pressure of writing a winning response to these contracts because they are vital to MCIS’ financial sustainability and in turn MCIS’ ability to pursue its social justice agenda. The pressure to win has meant working 14 hour days. The first year MBA experience, with its punishing workload, has certainly prepared me well for these working conditions. 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 >>