Yale School of Management | Groups

2015: Brazil

2014: Philippines

2013: Nicaragua

2012: South Africa

2011: Peru


2015 Destination: Brazil


4YOU2 is a certified B-Corp that is dedicated to bringing high-quality English language instruction to underprivileged Brazilians. In just a few short years, it has gained a reputation as Brazil’s most economic, trustworthy, and accessible source of English language education. Its current challenge is maintaining significant growth and impact while maintaining quality and low costs. Our GSE team is collaborating with 4YOU2 to analyze the viability of different expansion models that will help it meet its short- and long-term quality, pricing, and sustainability goals. 

Projeto CIES

Projeto CIES is a nonprofit organization that brings mobile medical care, prevention and education to communities in need throughout Brazil, from the favelas of Sao Paulo to the riverside communities of the Amazon. In the last two years, CIES has grown to 10 times its original size, and its increased impact  has led to internal challenges as CIES struggles to support its growth. Our GSE team will work with CIES to develop a planning tool with key indicators and metrics that help the organization support its growing impact on struggling communities throughout Brazil.


Avante is a B corporation with the mission of providing quality and affordable financial services for lower income families living in favelas. The GSE team will be working with Avante to help improve and scale their financial education web platform so that it reaches more individuals and effectively builds trust with consumers who have been excluded from the financial mainstream


In Brazil, 8 out of 10 people do not have health insurance. dr.consulta is a network of low-cost medical clinics that offer quality services to families who would not otherwise have access to healthcare. Founded in 2011, dr.consulta operates 5 clinics in São Paulo and plans to open 10 more next year. With your help, Yale SOM and dr.consulta will team up to develop a patient lifetime revenue value methodology that will guide the organization’s strategic decisions moving forward.  

Peixes da Amazonia

Peixes da Amazonia is one of the 5 Brazilian social enterprises the GSE class is consulting to this Spring.  This aquaculture organization is committed to producing native Amazonian fish for human consumption in a sustainable way. Their business model helps local, independent farmers to take advantage of this regular source of income and use their natural resources in an environmentally responsible way. Our GSE team will be helping Peixes da Amazonia to explore different markets and create a strategy to expand its reach.

Millennials’ perspectives on Social Enterprise, Innovation, and Profits

By: Anita Jivani

Many times in class we have had the age-old debate over the definition of the term ‘social enterprise’ and which is more important 'social' or 'enterprise'?  Greg Dees who is credited with defining the term for the first time in 1998, started a conversation that continues to evolve into hour-long discussions today. Although the debate can continue forever on this topic, I think the more relevant and timely question is: what matters for the people who will be leading these organizations very soon, the Millennials, and how do they define success in a growing yet complicated field?  The most recent Nielson study in February 2014 states that this segment of 77 million people born between 1977 and 1995 already composes 24% of the US population and labels them as the “social generation.”  So, how does this social generation view the role of social enterprises and business more generally?  According to a research study conducted by Deloitte, when asked what business is for, Millennials are almost evenly torn in thirds: generating profit, improving society, and driving innovation.  


In the Global Social Enterprise class, we are battling with questions related to scaling, new product development, and mass distribution for our social enterprises.  In the Philippines, we have struggled with helping to address shifting demand for products and services that can only be met through rearranging how the organization functions.  Our time in the field was primarily spent dissecting these issues while understanding the realities on the ground in Manila.  Although the perspective of problem solving varies based on if it is viewed from the lens of a current funder, founder, or foe, it is important that we dissect these topics from the viewpoint of future funders, founders, and foes of the world.   After speaking with many of my peers, consulting research conducted on this generation, and participating in introspection myself, I have come up with three of the defining characteristics of how we, the Millennials, see Social Enterprises:


  1. We don’t think that making a profit is a bad thing.

A non-profit, according to Merriam-Webster, is defined by “not existing or done for the purpose of making a profit”; however, this does mean that profits should not be made at all.Many models, especially in the gray space of social enterprise, include generation of profits so that the enterprise can serve a larger base through consistent funds.Unlike non-profits that are dependent on a foundation or individual donor, organizations like Aravind Eye Hospital in India charge some patients market-prices so that other patients can receive services for free. Aravind’s ability to massively scale exemplifies that a profit-generating model may be the most sustainable one for social enterprises and something we like.


  1. We want ‘social impact’ to be defined. Clearly.

Does improving society mean creating jobs in Nebraska?Ending energy poverty in rural Manila? Providing education for girls in Pakistan? And if your organization can do more than one of these, which ones do they do first?This requires a critical look at the organization’s Theory of Change in a laser-focused manner and identifying contradictions within this Theory of Change so that the organization aligns all of its time and resources behind one coherent mission.  Once the Theory of Change is defined by the organization, assessing the organization in a standardized manner year over year is essential.  If your organization has a mission statement that contradicts itself or is not measured against its Theory of Change… we don’t want to invest in it or work there. 


  1. We’re impatient with innovation: give us short-term treats while investing in long-term goals.

We thrive off of quick responses and instant gratification.But the reality is that real innovation comes after embracing failure and investing today in seeds that will blossom tomorrow. IDEO, a leading design innovation firm, has coined the phrase “fail often to succeed sooner.” But Millennials are a little impatient and very stubborn.  For us, “failure is not an option” and “why didn’t you respond to my e-mail from 5 minutes ago,” are quotidian phrases we live by.  But we find innovation irresistibly sexy and love organizations that know how to balance this dichotomy. 


Large organizations, social enterprises, and non-profits globally have always had the choice to embrace these dilemmas or ignore them.  As more Baby Boomers are buying homes in Florida and more Millennials are entering middle management, ignoring these previously “nice to haves” will not only affect a company’s ability to retain a demanding workforce but inevitably their bottom line.  Organizations that want to stay ahead of their game, with both talent and innovation, need to proactively incorporate the needs of Millennials in their organization’s strategy for the coming decade. 


2014 Destination: Philippines

In 2014, we partnered with 5 organizations in Manila:

  • Bambike
  • Breath of Life
  • Center for Cultural Transformation (CCT)
  • Gifts & Graces
  • MyShelter

Below are blog posts from the teams throughout their GSE experience.

Team CCT in The Philippines

It’s been almost exactly one month since we finished our visit to the Philippines (I won’t say ‘left the Philippines’ since some of us were lucky enough to have extra time there!). We spent the first week of March with our client, the Center for Community Transformations (CCT), working on our project to analyze the financial viability of processing agricultural waste for fuel. Our time in the Philippines was hectic as we visited CCT operations to try to understand how they function as an organization and serve their beneficiaries. We traveled south of Manila to visit a garment factory and learn about the demand for biofuel. We also traveled to the north, to Nueva Ecija, where we toured rice fields and processing plants, and met with farmers, businessmen and local government stakeholders to learn about agricultural waste production and processing. Along the way we were taken care of by many people. Grace, an external consultant, helped us understand the local situation and navigate the complicated biofuel industry. Wes, our AIM student, made sure we were always laughing. Jun, a CCT Pastor, helped us step back, process the experience, and say thank you for everything we were learning and receiving. And Rachel, our main contact at CCT, introduced us to everyone, made sure we got everywhere (mostly) on time, and fed us more delicious Filipino food than we thought was possible.


Due in large part to all of this support, we had an incredibly productive week. We created a rough financial model that answered key questions and continues to guide us as we explore new ways to increase the viability of biofuel processing for CCT. We dramatically increased our understanding of relevant technologies and stakeholder interests. And we were able to help CCT strengthen key relationships with both end users of biofuel, as well as government players who continue to support the project.


The week also brought us personal successes. After one particularly long day, CCT’s President requested that we take time to do community service.  Hesitant and concerned that this would distract us from our project objectives, we politely declined. But she was persistent. She urged us to go to an outreach for street dwellers where pastors offer rice and fish to street dwellers. Under the blazing sun, people gathered in a street corner to listen to the Pastor’s words. This experience affected everyone differently. For some of us, it made us realize how small our project is in the grand scheme of things. It humbled us and offered a deeper perspective and greater appreciation of why we we’re doing this work.


Later that day, we visited a group meeting of women involved in a microfinance program. While the approach was very different to the outreach program we had earlier visited, the message was the same: hope. One of the group members was so inspired by the microfinance community, that she opened up and told her story, “I told them that my grandparents were living in conditions similar to theirs and that my mom was a very strong, entrepreneurial woman just like them. And now I am at a great university. And if they try hard and not give up, their children, too, can have a good life.”


We had our doubts before going to the Philippines. Should a Filipino social enterprise fly in five foreign students to let them explain how to establish a project on bioenergy? What value can we bring – we may know how to calculate on Excel the net present value of an investment, but fail to differentiate rice bran, rice husk and rice straw – let alone their usefulness as biomass? But after just one day in Manila, our team built momentum and confidence. The questions for the local officials we met became more specific. We naturally talked about low heating value, moisture content and hammer mills. And we had a clearer idea where Kalikid, Bongabon and the Kawangawa Cooperative could be found. We brought our diverse experience and were able to come together with our Filipino colleagues to add real value to the project.

The full team! Joanne, Kate, Wendy, Rachel, Grace, Marius, Jun, Rohit, and Wes


(L) CCT GSE team inspecting the rice mill at Nagakaisang Magsasaka Cooperative in Talavera

(R) Rachel, making sure we’re well fed!


Contemplating Social Enterprise with the Breath of Life Team

by Zerrin Cetin

Now that we’re reaching the final stretch with our consulting projects, it might be a good time to reflect on what we’ve learned along the way.

Our team is working with our client, East Meets West, on identifying how to scale up their Breath of Life (BOL) program in private hospitals in the Philippines. Currently, BOL provides cheap and effective neonatal health care technologies to 5 public hospitals in the Philippines. Since technologies without adequate personnel support often fail to impact health outcomes, BOL also provides training, monitoring & evaluation, and maintenance support.

We spent a week in Manila at the beginning of March to meet with our client and relevant stakeholders. What a week it was! The van that we fondly starting referring to as our home took us from private hospital to public hospital to medical suppliers to various Filipino food joints. We learned why babies get sick and die in the Philippines. We learned how they are taken care of. We learned why medical equipment sales do or don’t happen. We learned how hospitable Filipinos are. We learned how to eat balut, a Filipino delicacy. From experiencing Filipino culture and business customs to collecting data for our project, our week in the Philippines was great!

What challenged me the most about the week was observing the difference between private and public hospitals in the Philippines. I read about health disparities and equity distributions on a daily basis, but observing it first-hand is another story. It has been hard for me to reconcile the differences in space, medical equipment, supplies, and health care workers in the two settings. A premature baby, born in a public hospital, might not have the same chances of survival as one that is born in a private hospital. And is this just? I found myself questioning whether our project scope was right. Do we want to make already well-resourced private hospitals even better resourced? Are we targeting our efforts toward the areas that would make the most impact?

We discussed this as a team last week. At its core, this question is one of the defining differences between social enterprises and not-for-profit organizations. Social enterprises combine revenue motives and mission. At the end, achieving more impact with your mission does not exclude serving up-market customers. You can still be laser-focused on serving the most ‘needy’, but there is more flexibility in the route to get there. I find this difference to be freeing. I want to build my career in increasing access to health care and sometimes, I’m daunted by the need. I’m daunted by the complexity of the challenge and wonder if there will ever be solutions. Through our GSE project, I am learning to ask more thoughtful questions and dissect the issue from different perspectives. I am learning that serving vulnerable populations in creative ways does not exclude serving broader sets of populations. This learning is facilitated by our class, professor, and TAs. And more importantly, our client and my team. I am very thankful!

It’s “More Fun in the Philippines”… Putting Yale SOM’s Core Curriculum into Practice

It turns out SOM’s Integrated Core Curriculum is pretty useful.  All those late nights we spent getting balance sheets and income statements to align, analyzing the Ford Ka’s customer demographics and psychographics, generating Manchester United’s financial forecasts, and conducting a process analysis of Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker were worth the effort once our Global Social Enterprise team arrived in Manila. We spent a week understanding the strategic priorities of Bambike Revolution Cycle alongside our client, Bambike’s employees, and Bambike’s product line of handmade, high-end bamboo bicycles.

Our jam-packed schedule for the week started with an introduction to the bicycles at Bambike’s Manila headquarters via a trip through the historic (tourist) district of Intramuros. This was followed by a field visit to the production site which allowed for some conversations with the craftsmen (AKA the “Bambuilders”) who build the handmade bicycle frames, and which enabled a deeper analysis of the production process in the community where the Bambuilders live. We followed these site visits with focused working sessions on marketing, social impact, finance, operations, and distribution.

The week with our client served to help focus our project and illuminate some of the company’s challenges, and provided us with deeper insights on the following areas: product mix, human resources, production flow, quality control, inventory management, distribution plan, and marketing strategy.

Keep reading for some highlights of our new skills from the Core Curriculum put into practice during our week with Bambike Revolution Cycle in the Philippines:


Chatting with our client about his current human resource needs, it was immediately clear that his first priority for improving the efficiency, functionality, and growth of his business was an analysis of current Human Resource issues. As it grows, Bambike is looking to hire several new employees and improve salaries, benefits, and incentives.

The lessons learned from our core class “Employee” also helped us put together some questions for the Bambuilders and other staff members designed to gauge their overall satisfaction with and enthusiasm for working for Bambike.


We spent a day three hours north of Manila at the Gawad Kalinga (a Philippines-based poverty reduction movement) Victoria Community in Tarlac, where Bambike’s frames are produced.  After meeting with the Bambuilders and taking careful notes on each step of the process, we created a process flow diagram to better track the time, labor, and resources required at each step of the process.

During our “Operations” class we also learned some techniques for determining optimal raw material re-order points and inventory quantities. We discussed these and other operational strategy ideas with the Bambike team and contrasted the merits of different production styles (batch, sequential, ad hoc, etc.)

Accounting & SMF

Keeping in mind the core business skills of accounting and valuation, we collected Filipino peso (then converted to US dollar) values associated for each input and fixed cost required to keep Bambike up and running. We used this extremely granular data to put together a Discounted Cash Flow model (special shoutout to our Sourcing and Managing Funds Professors Jake & Geert, and their Radio One exercise!) to help confirm some of the owner equity stakes and optimal bicycle price points.

Customer (and D&I too!)

The Yale GSE consultants also facilitated a participatory half-day marketing session with the client, which served as a deep-dive into Bambike’s brand value proposition and personality. This, in turn, will help us to develop additional nuanced marketing strategies, and conduct market segmentation and customer targeting exercises for the company’s updated Mira Nila and Luntian models, which are poised for market entry export and expansion in the USA and Europe.   

Business and Society

We concluded our series of working sessions with a fresh look at the social mission of Bambike.  At Yale, we pride ourselves on our commitment to excellence in global enterprise that is rooted in a commitment to the broader societies in which those businesses operate.  Similarly, Bambike is committed to strengthening Filipino society by producing sustainable frames—bamboo is extremely strong, fast-growing, and provides a significant carbon advantage relative to steel or aluminum—and helping the communities in which it operates by hiring teachers, craftsmen, and improving infrastructure.

For even more on Bambike, check out the Yale SOM community blog and the company website.

Introducing MyShelter 

We are excited to partner with the MyShelter Foundation in the Philippines. While the organization, founded in 2006, focuses on providing sustainable building solutions to high-need populations, our team is focused on their Liter of Light program. Three years ago, MyShelter began the Liter of Light program to end energy poverty in the Philippines, where access to electricity is limited and very expensive. Through the program, MyShelter began manufacturing, distributing and installing “daylights” – two-liter bottles filled with distilled water and bleach that are inserted into a roof, providing light by refracting the sun’s rays. These daylights provide lighting equivalent to that of a 55-Watt light bulb. Each daylight product costs about $2 but saves each house $10 per month in electricity costs. Since launching, MyShelter has installed 150,000 daylights in the Philippines and another 200,000 abroad. Early last year, MyShelter created a “night light”, an-add on product to the daylight, comprised of an LED light and MOBILE charging connection powered by a micro-solar panel. This “night light” solves the problem of lighting during night hours.

See here for a video about Liter of Light: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-Fpsw_yYPg

While the Liter of Light “daylight” has achieved tremendous results, the program is limited in scale by the financial model, particularly for the night light component. Thus MyShelter has engaged Yale’s Global Social Enterprise with what seems like a simple question: how can we turn this program into a profit-generating, self-sustaining business?

As we began brainstorming with MyShelter, we started to realize how broad and complex a question this could be. Should we consider how to redesign the product for an upscale market as a way to subsidize the cost for low-income populations? What about pricing, supply chain, distribution networks, and local partnerships? What types of business models are other social enterprises in the world using that could apply to Liter of Light?

We quickly realized that most effective we needed to focus on just one or two of the many moving pieces. After many in-depth discussions with our clients, we chose the two areas within the value chain that had the most opportunity for impact: sourcing and manufacturing.  MyShelter wanted to explore how it could source raw materials in a cost effective and socially beneficial manner. We expect to provide a Supplier Market Assessment for the “night light” products critical inputs to determine opportunities for improvement. Further, MyShelter has experimented with a variety of manufacturing methods through local partnerships and entrepreneurs. Through a benchmarking process, we expect to provide an analysis of the manufacturing models and best practices.

To accomplish these goals, we must first have a comprehensive understanding of MyShelter’s current value chain (from sourcing to service) for the Liter of Night Light as well as a good grasp on the local energy and business environment. Therefore, we are excited to visit the Philippines in less than two weeks, where we hope to conduct interviews with staff, partners and suppliers and see the impact A Liter of Light is having.

One of the most exciting things about the project from the students’ perspective is the hands-on nature. This is not a case study or class exercise. Each week we have client calls, work as a team on deliverables, develop ourselves personally, help an amazing social enterprise solve through a critical business problem, and let’s not forget, we have a week long field visit with our client in the Philippines!

Anita, Priya, Theresa, Taylor and Eddy

The MyShelter Team

Gifts & Graces Team: Kick-Starting the GSE Journey

Where do we start? That has been the pressing question of the last few weeks, as we began our client engagement with the Gifts and Graces Foundation (G&G). 


 G&G is an amazing organization that aims to uplift the lives of marginalized communities across the Philippines. Despite only being founded seven years ago, G&G already works with more than 30 different communities by training them to produce various handmade gifts and distributing those goods to corporate customers, retail stores and bazaars. Revenues from sales are used to improve the lives of the communities, with a portion allocated towards education funds for affiliated entrepreneurs.

G&G is seeking to increase the number of communities it can impact by expanding their retail presence. To achieve this, they identified supply chain management as their biggest constraint and thus the area where the Yale GSE team can provide the greatest value-add. However, like any grassroots organization, their capacity is limited as they have a small executive team and staff charged with overseeing a multitude of areas, so we must ensure that any solution we provide is implementable given their limited resources. In addition, supply chain management is interconnected with product design, client development, and demand projections. We found ourselves once again faced with the question -- where do we start

We took a step back to examine the challenge in two ways: first, what does the G&G team need to better design and implement a successful supply chain strategy, and second, what unique value-add could the Yale team provide. After several conversations with G&G, we came to the conclusion that an assumption based planning tool, combined with an overview of best practices on supply chain management from other fair trade organizations, was the most feasible solution. The tool would help the G&G team better understand their business and also exploit the Yale teams' strengths in operations and spreadsheet modeling.


Our deliverables will include two key components: internal operations analysis and external best practice collection. The internal component will be an Excel modeling tool designed based on the questions that G&G will need to answer as it scales up its operations. Some examples of such questions are: how much stock does G&G need to maintain to reduce waiting time on orders by 50%, or by how much does a 20% increase in product quantity from a certain supplier increase total revenues, given projected unmet demand. The internal component will identify key data points that G&G will need to systematically monitor. It will rely on a set of simplifying assumptions to conduct sensitivity analyses and set target goals for G&G to optimize their operations.


The external component requires the Yale team to investigate best practices in other social enterprises and fair trade organizations, both in the US and abroad. The goal of this best practices review is to help G&G anticipate potential operational problems and associated solutions, giving G&G a resource to address areas of need identified through the Excel tool. Since inception of Yale’s GSE program, teams have worked with several similar businesses, and tapping into this vast network will aid us in finding relevant entrepreneurs and resources. Professor Tony Sheldon has already gotten us started by putting us in touch with a pioneer in the fair trade field – David O’Connor, former President of Aid to Artisans. By connecting with experts such as David throughout the semester, we will contextualize our research with real-world expertise.


Helping us along the way are the G&G team in the Philippines—Gregorie Perez and Jeremy Callegher—as well as Anunay Sahay, a student at the Asian Institute of Management, the SOM’s partner school in the Philippines. They have been incredibly welcoming thus far, responding to our various requests, weighing in on potential deliverables, and being accommodating with our different time zones. We look forward to continue working with the team closely and can't wait to meet them face to face in three weeks!

Jay, Sarah, Laura, Becca and Katie


Hi bawat tao'y! (“Hi, everyone” in Tagalog)

We just realized today that there are only 25 days to go before we’re in the Philippines. We are both excited to be there, and nervous that it’s so soon.


We are working with the Center for Community Transformations (CCT), an amazing organization, which over the years, has delivered holistic, sustainable, and community-based programs and services that cater to the needs of the most marginalized members of Filipino society. CCT is a large non-profit organization with about 700 employees and total assets of 933.4 million Philippine pesos (about 22 million USD). To address the lack of access to productive assets, social services and strategic connections for marginalized groups, CCT currently has programs in spiritual development, microfinance, education, health, social security, and community mobilization.


For our GSE project, we are helping CCT with a new initiative. They are hoping to expand the impact of their work through the implementation of sustainable livelihoods projects. Specifically, they are exploring an opportunity to support income generation for impoverished farmers in Cabanatuan, a city in the Luzon region of the Philippines. The idea is to purchase a pellet machine which converts agricultural wastes (such as rice husks) into pellets, which can then be used as fuel for a local garment factory.

We have spent the last few weeks gathering initial data and defining our scope of work. Our final goal will be creating a feasibility study for implementation of this project in Cabanatuan. The feasibility study will include a supply side survey, technology study, and financial model. It sounds like a lot of work to do, but at least we have help! We have had several late night phone calls (the 13-hour time difference doesn’t make communication easy!) with our colleagues already. Working with us from CCT, we have Rachel Baguilat, a lead staff member within the office in Manila. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience and is our main point of contact within CCT. In addition to the guidance from CCT, we are also working closely with two colleagues at the Asian Institute of Management, a partner of Yale’s through the Global Network for Advanced Management. Mark Chan, Program Director, and Wesley Quesang (Class of 2014) will work with us to deliver on the project. It’s inspiring to work with people from different backgrounds, and we’re excited to collaborate and learn from them.


Over the next few weeks before traveling to the Philippines, we will continue to learn about the supply of agro-waste in the region, utilizing data collected by CCT from their partners in the field. We also will conduct research on comparable pelletizing machines and technologies in other parts of the world so we have that information for use while we’re in-country. When we’re in the Philippines in March, we are planning to spend a few days in Manila, working with Rachel and the team there. We are also traveling out to Cabanatuan to visit the project site and hopefully ride tricycles! (Cabanatuan is the tricycle capital of the Philippines!)


All best from the CCT team,

Marius, Wendy, Kate, Rohit, and Joanne


An example of a pelletizing machine 

A tricycle in Cabanatuan!

Breath of Life: Why not save some babies?

by Jason Suway

I came to Yale SOM to learn new skills to make my mark on the world. I wanted to be a leader for both “business and society,” tackling some of the world’s most challenging social problems.


In these two short years, I have spent most of my time developing both hard and soft skills to achieve my ambitious career aspirations. The experience of receiving an MBA is similar to “drinking water from a fire hose” as interviews, extracurricular activities, and the endless cases consume most of my time. All these business school activities, although incredibly important to my development, veiled my initial reasons for coming to school.


As a student of Global Social Enterprise (GSE), I finally feel like I have the unique opportunity to pursue my interests of improving the world in a hands-on way – “Why not save some babies?” while at business school. I am truly excited to work with East Meets West, a prominent organization that solves social challenges across the world. East Meets West developed a program known as Breath of Life that courageously donates necessary equipment to hospitals to reduce infant mortality. East Meets West has had much success because they are an organization that addresses the fundamentals. The organization does not look for a hands-off approach to improve neo-natal healthcare, but rather revels in digging deep and getting their “hands dirty.”


Even though my team is in the preliminary stages of our pro-bono consulting project, we cannot wait to apply our classroom learning to a project that has the potential to change the world in a meaningful way. We are committed, determined, and honored to work with such a passionate organization.


Two weeks ago, I attended the conference to celebrate the opening of Evans Hall. I attended the Social Entrepreneurship panel led by Sharon Oster and was dazzled by the prominent speakers. Some of these speakers were GSE alums, who had sat in same classroom as me not too long ago. Over the next four months as a GSE student, I have the chance to take one step closer to fulfilling my career aspirations. Who knows, maybe one day I will be the one on the podium talking about how I changed the world.


Greetings from Team Bambike!

We’re really excited about our opportunity to partner with Bryan and Will McClelland, Filipino-American brothers and co-founders of Bambike, to help their growing enterprise over this semester!


Started in 2011, Bambike is a “socio-ecological enterprise that hand-makes bamboo bicycles with fair trade labor and sustainable building practices.” Based in the Philippines, Bambike produces three bicycles which are currently on the market. These bikes are tested for durability, crash worthiness, and stiffness and have been certified through European standards.


Currently, single bike purchases comprise the majority of Bambike sales. However, Bambike is interested in building more sustained demand for their products in bike-friendly cities across the USA and Europe. Based on early discussions, Yale SOM’s GSE team plans on helping them consider the cost implications of their current sourcing, production, and distribution methods in order to establish a more robust mechanism for profitable and sustainable operations. And although Bambike has already received a lot of positive press in the USA (and what better press than President Barack Obama receiving a Bambike as a state gift!) we also plan to help Bryan and Will develop a more comprehensive marketing strategy for entry into bicycle retail outlets and other large-order customers in the USA.


The Bambike team is full of ideas beyond their high-quality bamboo bicycles. Women who live in the Gawad Kalinga community where the bicycles are made have already started producing bow ties, called Bambowtie, using the bamboo scraps from the bicycle production. The Bambike team is also considering an expansion into children’s bicycles, and is hoping to start bicycle ecotours in the Philippines.


As our GSE team continues to work with Bryan and Will to understand their current financing model, production chain, and marketing strategy in order to finalize our project for the semester, we look forward to learning more about Bambike’s commitment to the Bambuilders who hand-make each bicycle and who are part of a poverty-reduction community development in Gawad Kalinga. Bambike has already started a bamboo reforestation plan and has built a bamboo playground for children in the Gawad Kalinga community. This commitment to livelihood and the environment is a critical component of Bambike’s ethos, and we are excited to see the Bambuilders in action when we travel to meet the Bambike team in March 2014!


For the first time, GSE is teaming up with one of Yale SOM’s partner schools from the Global Network from Advanced Management, the Asian Institute of Management, based in the Philippines. We’re excited to have the opportunity to have a point of contact on the ground in Philippines who is as passionate about social enterprise as we are, and who has in depth knowledge about the intricacies of business and local communities in the Philippines.


Check out Bambike’s official website, www.bambike.com for more details on this enterprise and see the current bike model descriptions at the end of the blog. Also, take a look at this cool video that piqued our excitement to work with this growing enterprise – hope you enjoy!



Your Yale GSE Bambike Team,

Disha, Emily, Erik, Purwa, and Rafael


A brief description of their bikes:


Mira Nila Classic is a single speed street bike built up with high quality components for low-maintenance durability and a clean design. Meant for the distinguished rider, this Bambike is striking, nimble, and is sure to have you cycling around your neighborhood and to arrive at your destination in style.



Everything about the Ligtasin Cove is an original Bambike design. With double top tubes and a custom handwoven rattan bench seat supported by 6 bamboo seat-posts, the two riders it can carry experience the smoothest ride ever. An abaca wrapped fork with bamboo spacers come up to the Chopper style bamboo handlebars that sweep far back allowing the rider to roll in style and take it real easy. Fat whitewall tires are covered by handmade bamboo fenders designed to keep you dry if you get caught in the rain or when you wanna go puddle skipping. Back pedal braking is made possible by the rear coaster hub, which also keeps the bike free from wires for the green and clean look. 



The Luntian all-terrain bicycle is our most versatile model. This bamboo bike is ready for anything: game to tackle the mean streets of the urban jungle and well equipped to hit the off-road trails!  A more relaxed rider position makes for a very comfortable ride.  The Luntian can be built up like a mountain bike, ready to accommodate a suspension fork, up to 30 gears, hydraulic disc brakes, and a cargo rack.  It can also be built up as a more commuter oriented Bambike. This Bambike design is very durable and adaptable, capable of handling anything that you can throw at it.


2013 Destination: Nicaragua

Greetings from Managua!

Our client is Burke AgroSol Simple, an agricultural-focused social enterprise and natural food brand that sells solar dried organic fruit and promotes its strong social mission.  It works to increase smallholder farmer incomes, employ single mothers in its processing plant, and promote healthy foods and a reduced environmental footprint in Nicaragua.  The team is conducting a market analysis of other product lines Burke Agro can get into utilizing its organically-sourced fruits from its producer network.

Upon arriving in Managua, we were greeted by the warm, refreshing Nicaraguan air.  Having left JFK with snow flurries, we more than welcomed the change of weather to a modest 70-degree Nicaraguan night.  Given that most of Sol Simple’s products are exported to the US, our focus in-country was to better understand the rest of the value chain, from farmer to processing and distribution.  Our first day, we explored the farms, driving out to organic pitaya (or dragonfruit, which are neon pink exotic fruits with a pink flesh and a scaly green outer skin, native to Nicaragua), pineapple, and mango farms, which are all part of Burke Agro’s producer network.

One poignant memory is of a 90-year old farmer who has maintained his mango farm for over 60 years.  He commented how he was one of the first to produce the “manga rosa,” which is a variety that is often smaller, sweeter, and with less stringy flesh, characterized by its reddish orange coloration.  He started off with only 10 trees and then expanded, upon accidently learning how to prune the trees and engraft more mangos to produce a higher yield per tree. The next day, we visited the processing plant, where Sol Simple products are washed, cut, solar dried, and packaged by local Nicaraguan single women for distribution.  Having concluded our Operations Engine class in the spring, it was interesting musing about improved efficiencies in the plant and how the company could identify bottlenecks, understand its capacity constraints, and ultimately employ solutions to improve its throughput.  We also found ourselves trying to think from an Employee class lens, thinking about mechanisms to promote a strong company culture committed to its social mission.

The social entrepreneurship tide

In reflecting on Will Burke’s, the founder’s, unique journey to start his business, we saw some of the same struggles that many entrepreneurs face as they expand.  As a social entrepreneur, Will had to take risks when others thought he could not to start a business that was completely foreign to him in order to provide for the livelihood of the Nicaraguan community around him.  His ability to take risks, not necessarily being able to quantify market demand or prepare for the challenges he would soon face, ran against all business school teachings, yet also is characteristic of many entrepreneurs.  What makes them successful is their resilience and ability to pivot like Will.  It was refreshing seeing Will and his team work together toward a mission that they were so dedicated to achieving, while also seeing the hard balance they needed to make in staying committed to that long-term social mission, while also achieving short-term profits. The week in Managua was extremely refreshing, reviving our passion for social entrepreneurship and seeing the fruits (pun intended) of business school lessons applied directly to our client.

We are excited to work on the project to finalize our deliverables and hope to possibly send some of our team members to Nicaragua this summer, utilizing Yale SOM internship fund funding, to work with Burke Agro as they continue to expand their business and impact.  Next time you see Sol Simple organic fruits at Whole Foods, make sure to pick up a bag (mango or pineapple is our personal favorite)!

Agora Partnerships: Week in Nicaragua

The Yale GSE team’s goal is to help Agora identify new constructive and sustainable streams of revenue that build upon Agora’s knowledge base and core competencies and reinforce Agora’s core values and mission.

Prior to arriving in Nicaragua, we knew it would be important to set up an aggressive itinerary in advance of our trip to make the most of our time. We decided that it would be important to talk to Agora’s staff members, clients, and partners. In doing so, we wanted to focus our inquiry on Agora’s core competencies and reputation, market trends in entrepreneurship, entrepreneur needs/ challenges, revenue-generating ideas, partnerships, and the local culture.

Our week in Nicaragua was very eventful. We spent a lot of time at the Agora office interviewing over 30 people throughout the week. We interviewed staff members, entrepreneurs, and industry partners including ESEN, Oxfam, UCA, US Embassy, IFC, Vital Voices, ANDE, One Leap, and INCAE students. As we continued our interviews, we began to discover common themes. Agora’s core competencies are relationships, networks, and passionate staff. While Agora has a strong reputation in the impact investing community, we learned that Agora is less well known among average business owners in Nicaragua. We constantly heard about the lack of investment-ready deals from SMEs in Nicaragua. Challenges faced by entrepreneurs included human capital, financial reporting, marketing, and access to capital.

The trip to Nicaragua was also a great team learning experience. By spending a lot of time together, we were able to recognize each other’s strengths/weaknesses and work styles. We also got to interact on a more personal level. We had opportunities to provide feedback. All of this made the group stronger and more cohesive.

Our time in Nicaragua was essential in helping us understand Agora’s mission and how Agora envisions helping entrepreneurs in Nicaragua by providing them with the human, social, and financial capital that is necessary for success. We were able to learn about the challenges entrepreneurs in Nicaragua face in terms of resources, but also culture. It was an amazing learning opportunity for us all.

CrediFactor: An Organization Looking For Sustainability

It’s Sunday afternoon, and my group is at school, reviewing our treasured Gantt chart and putting together the itinerary for our visit to Nicaragua in a few weeks.  The last few weeks have been busy, as our class has been learning about structuring a consulting project, setting group expectations and norms, while at the same time learning as much as we can about our client, CrediFactor.

CrediFactor is an organization that does micro-finance and factoring in Nicaragua.  We are specifically helping them with MóvilFactor, their program that provides small lines of credit to pulperia owners.  Pulperias, the small shops that are on nearly every corner in Managua, serve as the main supply source for many Nicaraguans.  Thanks to MóvilFactor, this incredibly important section of the economy has access to credit, as the larger banks usually deem them uncreditworthy.  Using lines of credit approved through the small business owner’s cell phone (most around $20, and disbursed directly to the pulperia’s distributor), pulperias are able to stock their stores with more inventory, allowing them to increase their revenue substantially.

We’re working to help MóvilFactor become financially sustainable by looking at a number of factors (including the number of pulperias and distributors participating and fee structure), and preparing for a week in Managua.  Our trip will give us a chance to learn more about how pulperias work, what issues are important to the owners, and how a group like MóvilFactor might be able to maximize their impact.

We’ve already learned so much in our Skpe conversations with the team at CrediFactor; we can’t wait to get in-country in a few weeks!

CO2 Bambu Reflections Upcoming Trip

We can’t believe that in just three short weeks we will be flying to Nicaragua to visit our client, CO2 Bambu! Over the past month we have been working diligently with our Nicaraguan partners to come up with a method that will help them find market opportunities for their exciting new product: amphibious housing.

CO2 Bambu’s mission is to support post-disaster reconstruction efforts using renewable bamboo resources. Amphibious housing is based on innovative technology that enables the houses to float when flooding occurs. There is tremendous potential for these homes in flood-prone areas where flooding is consistent and costly. Our client believes that there are many market opportunities out there, and our team is helping to identify where these opportunities exist.

Prior to our week in Nicaragua, we’ll be performing a money-flow analysis for post-disaster recovery events. Essentially, we’ll be figuring out which organizations are funding recovery projects, where this money is being spent, and how much is in the capital pool. While in-country, we’ll collect additional data on the product and interview funding organizations to gain insight into how to engage them in the RFP process. Finally, we’ll work in partnership with CO2 Bambu staff to further refine the go-to-market strategy, which we will develop fully back in New Haven.

It’s exciting to think that we’ll be helping to bring a potentially disruptive technology to market. Amphibious housing could be a game-changer for people at the base of the pyramid, and we’re eager to put our skills to use to make it a reality.

Clínica Verde: Building a new model of healthcare for families in need

It feels like just yesterday we found out what organization we would be working with for the next four months. In reality, it’s been over a month and after many productive brainstorming sessions, we’re in the thick of our work. Clínica Verde’s mission is one that each of us feels connected to, which makes this partnership that much more meaningful.

Clínica Verde was founded with the vision of changing lives through health and hope by providing much-needed quality healthcare and education to the community, with a focus on maternal and infant care. They recently constructed and opened an environmentally sustainable clinic in the Boaco region of Nicaragua that merges the interactions of the environment, the community, and the people it serves.

The Clínica Verde GSE Team has been tasked with exploring revenue stream options to shift the organization’s model from a donation-driven one to an increasingly revenue-driven one. We’re hoping to put the organization on track to increased financial self-sustainability, and have some fun while we do it!

We’re excited to delve even deeper into our work with this great organization and to head down to Nicaragua in just one short month!

Burke Agro and Sol Simple: The Epitome of Triple Bottom Line

Since arriving at Yale SOM, we’ve often heard the term “triple bottom line.”  Triple bottom line typically refers to organizations that are dedicated to achieving positive social and environmental impact, as well as financial.  Put more simply, a company with goals focused on people, planet and profits.  SOM’s emphasis on educating leaders not just for business, but also for society aligns particularly well with the triple bottom line model.

Our GSE team is working with Burke Agro and its consumer brand, Sol Simple. As a social enterprise, they exemplify the meaning of triple bottom line.  Their mission is to use renewable energy to produce the highest quality natural products while pioneering socioeconomic advancement of rural single mothers, small farmers, and their respective producing communities.  The company currently has the largest solar hybrid dryer in all of Central America, employs 18 single mothers, and sources from 35 different producers whom either have converted to certified organic production or are in transition.

We look forward to spending the semester conducting a marketing assessment, with a one week trip to Nicaragua over spring break to gain a better understanding of the local business environment.  We are excited to have the opportunity to contribute to such an innovative enterprise.

Agora Partnerships: Raising Money for GSE to Help Agora Raise Money for Social Enterprises

At the GSE Date Auction last Thursday, we saw some pretty impressive stuff on offer: private yoga and rock-climbing lessons; a culinary journey through China; hot-tubbing with SOM’s own three-star general, Tom Kolditz. Standards were high, but the most impressive accomplishment on display was not for sale — it was the outstanding generosity of our classmates, who pledged over $8,000 to the efforts of GSE in Nicaragua.

The SOM community is what makes GSE possible, and in turn, GSE provides a clear and potent embodiment of SOM’s commitment to create leaders for business and society. SOM shares that mission with our client, Agora Partnerships.

Agora aims to deliver on a simple equation: Human Potential + Capital = Impact. A Managua-based small business accelerator, Agora helps early-stage companies to scale their social and environmental impact by improving their access to infrastructure, networks, and resources. Agora has provided training and consulting to over four thousand entrepreneurs, aided forty-three companies with access to capital, and facilitated access to $4.1 million worth of capital investment.

Over Winter Break, our team took a break from our respective Law & Order marathons to chat with Ricardo Teràn Teràn, Agora’s co-founder and managing director, and COO Dorrit Lowsen. Skype is a miracle of the modern age, and within an hour, we had learned a lot about the evolution of the organization and the determination of its inspired team. Working with them promises an education in flexibility, as Agora adapts to new financial strategies, and in effective leadership.

We’re excited to learn from an organization that shares an important goal with SOM: a commitment to training leaders for the benefit of all. We’re grateful to our classmates, and to SOM, for making it possible. And, though our Spring Break will involve few private yoga lessons and fewer hot tubs, we’re pretty excited about seeing that equation — Human Potential + Capital = Impact — in practice in Nicaragua.


2012 Destination: South Africa

GSE received a number of very strong client applications, and we are extremely proud to partner with five outstanding organizations in South Africa this semester. A brief description of each is provided here and the student teams will be blogging about their respective clients and projects over the course of the semester. Stay tuned!

The Indalo Project – Streetwires(http://indaloproject.co.za/http://www.streetwires.co.za/)

The Indalo Project builds sustainable networks of creative and trade exchange, that bring people together from different cultural, economic & skills backgrounds for an environment of opportunity and empowerment. The Indalo Project works in collaboration with Streetwires, which creates sustainable employment by designing, creating and marketing contemporary African wire and bead craft art.

LEAP Science and Maths School(http://www.leapschool.org.za/)

LEAP is a learning organization that was created to give young South Africans the academic and life skills they need to become productive and responsible citizens.

Nexii (http://nexii.com/)

Nexii is a global impact investment consulting and advisory firm that aims to connect communities to capital and capital to change.

Open Africa (http://www.openafrica.org/)

Open Africa establishes tourism routes in rural and marginalized areas to facilitate enterprise development and job creation.

Township Patterns (http://www.township.co.za/)

Township is a social enterprise operating in the fashion industry, producing eco-friendly shopping  or conference bags, clothing and accessories made by fair-trade women’s cooperatives in the townships of South Africa.

Team Indalo: On the similarities between the GSE experience and piling into a Mini Cooper

Our GSE team had the pleasure of working with Indalo (http://indaloproject.co.za/) this semester on launching a web-based crowd-funding platform to raise capital for South African entrepreneurs.  The experience was awesome in so many ways: project, client, team, travel, potential impact…

How was this similar to the GSE experience?   In so many ways…

It was about doing a lot with a little, being efficient and timely, rethinking what seemed possible, and questioning assumptions. It required trial and error and iteration after iteration to find a workable outcome. It built camaraderie and encouraged professional and personal connections with teammate and client. It caused a lot of laughter, occasional discomfort, and memorable stories.

And most of all, it wasn’t easy, but turned out to be a lot of fun.

But as the end of the semester approaches, we have begun to realize how similar the experience has been to our standard method of transportation during the week our team spent with our client in Cape Town.  Naturally, in order to save time and money we squeezed our entire team of 5 and our client into his Mini Cooper.

Team LEAP: To Cape Town and Back

After nearly two months of work on our project, Team LEAP was really excited to visit Cape Town and meet our clients. Cape Town is one of the most beautiful places that any of us has visited, and we certainly enjoyed exploring South Africa’s mountains, beaches, and food.

That said, the purpose of our visit was a serious one. In South Africa, low income families who want to send their children to high performing schools have few affordable options. To address this problem, LEAP—known for pioneering no-fee, independent schools—is working to drive a movement to create a “third tier” school system of independently managed, high-performing no- or low-fee schools, financed jointly through public and private sources. One of the primary challenges that LEAP faces is the current absence of a financial and legislative structure in South Africa for schools to operate on a large scale in this third tier system. Against this backdrop, LEAP has engaged the GSE team to provide quantitative evidence that showcases a feasible path for the implementation of a third tier of schools. In order to build this financial model we needed to collect data from various public and independent schools to better understand the activities, cost structures, and revenue sources of high performing yet affordable schools.

Throughout the week, we interviewed nearly 20 school principals and CFOs while simultaneously building and refining the financial model based on our findings. While we made a lot of progress on our deliverables, we also took a very insightful trip through one of the townships that LEAP serves, led by LEAP graduate from that neighborhood who is now training to become a teacher.

At the African Social Entrepreneurs Network (ASEN) gathering, our client had the chance to introduce their organization and we had a chance to explain our project and get feedback. We ended the meeting with a wonderful social event on the campus of the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business.

During this trip we not only collected valuable data, worked closely with our client, and gained a better understanding of the social context of our project, we also bonded with the LEAP team, our GSE classmates, and many other people who helped make this a unforgettable experience! We only have a few weeks left before making our final presentation, and we are now even more excited to deliver an impactful product.

Team Nexii: Social Stock Exchanges and High Impact Investing

Nexii provides a platform that connects capital to investment opportunities that focus on effecting positive social change on a local, regional or global scale.  Historically, investors have had difficulty identifying and monitoring investment opportunities in this field, due to the expense of sourcing socially focused deals.  In addition, social enterprises are often unable to effectively access capital due to their smaller size and a lack of formal capital markets.  Nexii’s primary goal is to connect these investors to these opportunities.

Our Yale Global Social Enterprise (GSE) Team is working to provide Nexii with a comparative analysis of alternative impact investing platforms and potential areas for collaboration. We hope that this report will be used to identify possible industry-wide initiatives for standardizing requirements, reporting, and services.

During our week in Cape Town, the Nexii GSE team had the opportunity to interview various staff members at Nexii. In these conversations, we were able to gain a clear sense of Nexii’s vision for innovative uses of the capital markets. Additionally, we were afforded the opportunity to meet with various parties with whom Nexii is working such as asset managers, intermediaries, and potential issuing social enterprises. We came to better understand the landscape of impact investing, including strengths and challenges in this emerging field.

We had an incredible week of interviews and felt entirely honored to speak with so many brilliant minds. Our GSE team is currently continuing to conduct interviews with various other players in the social capital markets landscape and look forward to presenting our final analysis to Nexii.

Team Open Africa’s African Adventures

Team Open Africa’s journey to the client office in Cape Town turned out to be more revelatory and experiential than we had initially imagined. Spending a week talking with Open Africa staff as well  as other stakeholders made us realize the importance of the client visit component of GSE.

Open Africa is an organization that uses authentic tourism as a means to affect economic empowerment in marginalized African sectors. Open Africa encourages travelers to self-drive through routes that it has established across the African continent in conjunction with local small businesses, and in doing so, serves as a platform for travelers to access some of these rural areas. Established by Noel deVilliers, a well-known and respected social entrepreneur, the organization has been in existence for 15 years and is now in transition to a social enterprise. To that end, we are helping Open Africa better understand its target customer base (potentially, the adventurous and flexible traveler) and identify best ways to attract and retain them.

One of the exciting things we did as part of our stay in Cape Town was to travel through Khayelitsha – one of Open Africa’s earlier routes. In addition to understanding what the typical traveler might experience on one of these routes, we spent a lot of time speaking with Open Africa “partners”, i.e. small businesses such as arts and crafts galleries, bed and breakfasts, and tour operators. These conversations were particularly key in helping us uncover the depth and breadth of challenges Open Africa faces. We ended our week with a presentation and discussion of the high-level challenges the organization faces, along with an update on our progress thus far.

Of course, all work and no play makes us a dull team. Our clients were amazingly fun and took particular care of us while we were there, which included daily excursions to our favorite Woolworths to pick out lunch, happy hour on our last day, as well as thoughtful gifts to bid us adieu. We each got a Kikoi (a traditional African piece of cloth that serves countless purposes) and a customized passport cover with an individually addressed card. All in all, the perfect trip!

Hello Again from Team Township

We recently returned from a full week in Cape Town and are excited to share our amazing experience. Our client (www.township.co.za) serves to empower the women of Cape Town’s townships through a network of seven sewing cooperatives. It is comprised of an NGO that manages the training and development of the cooperatives, as well as a for-profit company that sources customers and markets the work of the cooperatives.

Over the course of five days, we had the amazing opportunity to meet and interview all of the staff members of Township and the leaders of all seven cooperatives, visit five of the cooperatives, as well as attend a monthly production planning meeting and the largest design exhibition in South Africa. These conversations and visits were invaluable to our understanding of the organization’s operations and values.

By the end of the week, we found we had an even stronger appreciation for Township’s history and culture, the passion and dedication of its leaders, and the importance of the cooperatives to the individual women and communities involved. We developed some initial observations and operational suggestions for our client and will dedicate the next seven weeks to creating a plan for Township to strengthen its existing cooperatives as well as successfully expand the model to new communities. We’re excited to share our final report with Township and hope they find it valuable as they continue to grow.


A Stellar South African Wine Tasting Course

Last Monday, sixty members of the Yale community gathered for a South African Wine Tasting to fundraise for the Global Social Enterprise South Africa course. Philippe Newlin, acclaimed instructor for the Yale SOM Wine Society and the former tasting director of Wine & Spirits Magazine, led the participants through seven different types of wine from throughout South Africa.

After a brief history of South African wine, the tasting began. First we tried a Steen (South African word for Chenin Blanc) by Man Vintners from Coastal South Africa–a wonderful white wine with “bright acidity.” Chenin Blanc makes up 18% of South Africa’s wine exports.

Following the Steen, we moved onto the second white wine of the night: a dry Sauvignon Blanc by Southern Right from Walker Bay, South Africa. The wine was described as “one foot in the new world” and “one foot in the old world” of Sauvignon Blancs. We then moved into reds, starting with a Pinot Noir by Hamilton Russell from the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. We learned that Hemel-en-Aarde translates to “heaven and earth”–and indeed the wine was!

Next we moved onto my favorite bang-for-the-buck wine, a $9 Shiraz by Indaba with a “delicate” and “fresh” taste. Next was a “Chakalaka” by Spice Route from Swartland. We rounded out the night with a Bush Vine Pinotage from the Winery of Good Hope and a Cabernet Sauvignon by Boekenhoutskloof. The night was a huge success, raising over $1,600 for the GSE Cape Town trip this spring.


-Kate McNamara, IDE ’12

Getting Started with Team Township

Hello from the South Africa Global Social Enterprise Team for 2012!

We are happy to report that we have kicked off the semester with a spectacular set of fundraising efforts – from the GSE Date Auction, which raised 50% more than the previous year, to the South African Wine Tasting event on January 30th (which still has available spots open).

GSE Date Auction

If you are interested in attending the South African Wine Tasting, sign up by emailing Jenny.McColloch@yale.edu andKatie.Berk@yale.edu.  Thank you to everyone for their support of our efforts!

For our project-specific team, we have Christina Bruno (SOM ’12), Sandra Idehen (SOM ’12), Suzanne Wirtz (SOM ’13), Divya Sadarangani (SOM ’13), and Dwight Tran (SOM ’13).

We will be working with Township – an organization in Cape Town, South Africa that works to empower women cooperative businesses in the region.  Township operates through two separate legal entities: an NGO (Afrique du Sud, Bidonvilles) and a marketing company (Township Patterns). The NGO is responsible for the identification, set-up, training, financing and business development support activities during the incubation phase of autonomous women’s sewing cooperatives operating within the township’s communities.

By assessing the organizational structure required to leverage the current Township business platform, our team will work to develop recommendations and a process for successfully executing the next stage of growth for the organization.  We are really looking forward to starting the project and heading to Cape Town in just six weeks!

2011 Destination: Peru

Peruvian Travels with Team Superfruit

At the end of February, 7 weeks into our Global Social Enterprise experience, “Team Superfruit” shipped off to Lima, Peru for the client visit component of the course.  All four of us were excited to meet our ProNaturaleza partners with whom we had Skyped for the last few months, but were unsure of what to expect on our first trip to Peru.  Matters were made slightly more exciting by the fact that we were the only team without a Spanish speaker.  (But, some of our best team moments were laughing over our elementary-school level communication skills that led to an increased proficiency in sign language.  The daily cab fare negotiations were a source of communal enjoyment, and eventually, collective pride.  Barry Nalebuff’s class on negotiations really paid off!)

Our project focuses on examining the commericial potential of sustainably harvested palm fruits in the international cosmetics industries. Our week in Peru was incredibly productive, as we worked alongside our ProNaturaleza partners in their Lima office. Our clients were outstanding hosts, bringing in field officers to give us a first hand description of the harvest process, and introducing us to their principal funders to help us develop a better sense of their financial structure. We found it immensely helpful to hear the inside perspective of the business model and the unique challenges of organizing and training palm fruit harvesters in a remote nature preserve.

Members of the ProNaturaleza leadership team presenting the Yale SOM team with parting gifts

One of the biggest highlights of our business trip was finally tasting the aguaje fruit.  Our hosts were kind enough to track down the one grocer in Lima that sold popsicles made with the specific palm fruit we were studying – the aguaje.  The aguaje push-up pops tasted like a rich, nutty pear, with a deep dark yellow color.

The team – with our host – trying our aguaje pops.

At the end of the week our team said our farewells to the PN team and split off for other South American adventures – hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, exploring the salt flats of Bolivia, and trekking through the vast farmlands of Brazil.  Back in New Haven now, we are delving back into the world of aguaje and excited to deliver our final report to our client!


From Inca Kola to Informality - Team ILD

After six weeks of GSE lectures and Skype calls with our client, we finally arrived in the Institute of Liberty and Democracy (ILD) office in San Isidro, Lima’s financial district on February 28.  Our client, ILD, is a think-tank that provides analysis and consulting services to heads of state in developing countries. This know-how helps political leaders and policymakers “formalize” the informal sectors of their economies, leading to more productive development.

Our first day on site consisted of getting to know everyone in the office, including the CEO.  We made arrangements for the week including scheduling interviews with some of the staff members.  Of course a proper business lunch was also on the agenda! We sampled some of Peru’s famous ceviche (raw marinated fish) along with some bright yellow Inca Kola (the local version of Coca-Cola).

Tim Cleary (L) drinks Inca Kola with our clients Mariela and Gabriel

Developing an understanding of how the organization functions was a major component of our time in Lima. It enabled us to really understand the value the organization provides, which was essential to moving the project forward.  Interviewing the employees was also extremely important to our analysis and certainly the face-to-face conversations cannot be matched by calls over Skype.

Visiting Peru, we were also able to witness first-hand some of the outcomes of ILD’s work in the local area.  We visited a favela near Lima where we had the opportunity to speak with local people who had been directly impacted by ILD’s efforts.  This was a powerful opportunity to see first-hand how effective the organization has been in executing its theory of change. Back in the office and with a proper cup of espresso from the fantastic office espresso machine, we developed a presentation summarizing our week’s findings and outlined our next steps.  The CEO and many employees were in attendance.  Although we were presented with some tough questions to address at the end of the meeting, the visit really spurred our motivation for the project.  Our visit to Lima not only moved our project forward, but even more importantly, enabled us to really get to know each other and our clients.  At the first day back at class, everyone was excited to see each other again and share stories from our time in Lima.  Now back to work!

Our team visiting with a local business owner in the Lima favela. It was touching to hear how he directly attributes the success of his business to the work of ILD


In the Field with Team Coffee

After months of work here in New Haven, the Global Social Enterprise participants headed to Peru for the on-site portions of our research.  The Sustainable Harvest team—dubbed “Team Coffee”—embarked for Chiclayo, a dusty industrial city on the northern coast.   There we met on-site with the Frontera cooperative, an organization that pools the crops of small-scale coffee farmers for export to major U.S. roasters like Green Mountain and Whole Foods.

Angel Garcia (Sustainable Harvest) and Michael Gannon (Team Coffee) survey Frontera’s milling operations

??Our client, Sustainable Harvest, is a U.S.-based specialty coffee importer and social enterprise.  For years, Sustainable Harvest has worked with Frontera to improve its processes and product quality, while returning a greater share of profits to the growers themselves.

Our project focuses on the latest improvement—the Relationship Information Tracking System, or RITS.  RITS aims to replace the traditional paper-based method of data tracking, leading to greater efficiency and transparency along the entire coffee supply chain.

Team Coffee couldn’t have asked for more engaged and helpful hosts.  Frontera gave us full access to its current data management systems and was eager to show us key areas for improvement.  Through a series of group exercises and one-on-one interviews, we were able to determine the concrete benefits of adopting RITS, from increased ease of acquiring third-party certifications to dramatic gains in on-going quality improvement.

Random sampling of beans for quality testing

It was an intense few days, but energy was kept high through constant infusions of strong Peruvian coffee, freshly milled and roasted at the plant next door.  We celebrated the completion of our research by treating our hosts to ceviche and sting ray tortillas at Pimentel Beach.

Neha Madan (Team Coffee) at the Frontera drying station

Now it’s on to the next phase of the project.   Our client has connected us with some of the country’s leading specialty coffee roasters and certification agencies, and we’re looking forward to building on our new knowledge from Chiclayo to create a comprehensive picture of the value of the RITS system across the supply chain.

Team Coffee and our hosts from Sustainable Harvest and the Frontera cooperative; Pimentel, Chiclayo


Team Superfruit is Ready to Salir

Time flies and we’ll be in warm and sunny Lima in less than a week. Our client ProNaturaleza, founded in 1984, is a non-profit private organization dedicated to the conservation and preservation of Peru’s environment. While working on a variety of projects, it has been paying a lot of attention to increasing economic benefits for the local population of the Amazon region through the sustainable use of natural resources.


Our initial task was to help market all five sustainably harvested products supported by ProNaturaleza: two species of fish (Paiche and Arahuana), one species of river turtle (Taricaya), and two species of palm tree (Aguaje and Tahua).

After conducting research on each product as well as consulting with the client and our very helpful GSE club leaders, we  decided that it would be feasible to work on a marketing plan for only one product due to our time constraints and limited access to data on Peruvian markets and regulations. So finally, our project is…. developing a marketing strategy for Aguaje oil for the organic cosmetics industry.


Aguaje is a palm up to 30 meters in height, and it’s mostly popular in the Peruvian Amazonia. The pulp of the fruit is used to make aguajina (a local drink), popsicles, ice cream, jelly, and yogurt. The oil from the fruit and its skin are very rich in Vitamin A. It also contains high concentrations of oleic acidtocopherols andcarotenoids, especially betacarotene. Aguaje oil has already been used in some cosmetics products, but it is just beginning to gain global popularity. Our goal is to help ProNaturaleza market it successfully and increase awareness of all the benefits of the “superfruit” Aguaje.

Aguaje Tree

Having a female dominated team (sorry Keely) is beneficial for this project as we are all very eager and excited to learn about the organic cosmetics producers, different products and techniques.  So far, we’ve been doing a lot of market research to better understand all the details related to the entry of new players. We found a lot of great and valuable information about international organic cosmetics markets, sustainability efforts of cosmetics producers, and much more.

Our project scope continues to evolve, but we expect that it would be much more clear and specific once we are back from Peru. We are still working on our itinerary in Lima – besides meeting with ProNaturaleza, we are hoping to talk to international cosmetics companies, organic certification organizations, and firms involved in exporting organic products abroad. We are also planning on eating as many fruits from the Amazon region as possible!

Team “Superfruit” will be in touch soon.

~ Tanya Bogina

Aguaje Fruit


Thank you and TMI from Alana Laudone

(TMI = The Mountain Institute) ??

First, GSE owes a huge thank you to the SOM classes of 2011 and 2012 – thank you!   The organizers of this year’s “Welcome Back” party, a GSE fundraising tradition, Nithya, Julia and Corey, also deserve a good deal of thanks.   Since all of our GSE groups have worked out the kinks of Skype conference calling and have touched base with our clients in the Southern Hemisphere, our upcoming travels to Peru seem all the more real and all the more exciting.  We will begin our projects long before leaving New Haven, but the chance to dive deep into our client organizations on the ground will allow us to test and refine our analysis and recommendations.  Our service to these social enterprises and the entrepreneurs who run them will be stronger for it.  But Peru is far, and support is needed.   And so we sincerely thank our classmates for their generosity (and for their presence at a fun event)!


GSE Welcome Back Party

The Mountain Institute (TMI) is older than I am, having started their work in the Appalachian region of the US in 1972.  TMI-Peru was established for service in the Andes in 1996.  In their words, “Through empowering mountain communities and conserving mountain ecosystems, TMI ensures that mountains will continue to provide the essential resources – natural, cultural and inspirational — needed for mankind’s survival on a healthy planet.”    A well-put mission, engagement by top staff and directors, and an interesting, impactful project convinced my group members and me that we wanted to spend the semester working with this organization.   Of course, the stunning photos on the website didn’t hurt either :)

All predictable jests aside, the Andes are indeed beautiful, and work with TMI has begun!   Julia (same Julia as above!), Kim, John, Salvador and I have the pleasure of working with Jorge in Peru and Bill in the US.  As TMI-Peru continues to grow, particularly since having been chosen for USAID’s Capable Partners Program, they struggle with limitations from funding and organizational structure.  They are interested in how similar organizations have varied their structural arrangements to climb beyond growth plateaus and how TMI-Peru might create a road map for their own structure going forward.  Enter GSE Yale team.  We have just about nailed down our exact project scope – our classmates responsible for sourcing and vetting clients last semester worked with TMI to lay the tracks, but we need to build and drive the train.  The “all aboard” call is scheduled for this week.  Or should I say, “todos a bordo” :)

Please enjoy a few photos from the Welcome Back party and check back soon for another update from GSE!

Our TAs! (L-R): Liz, Adrish, Kenli

Welcome Back Party