Hello Liberia! IBD’s Executive Director, Kristi Raube, Takes on a New Adventure

Kristi Teaching

Kristi Teaching

After more than 18 years dedicating herself and her career to academia, teaching, mentoring and guiding graduate students at Berkeley-Haas, IBD Executive Director Kristi Raube and her husband will depart early next year for their newest adventure — moving to Africa.  Kristi has accepted a position as the Peace Corps Country Director for the Republic of Liberia.  Before her Berkeley-Haas career, Kristi was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Togo, where she trained community groups in health and agriculture projects, and coordinated logistics for Peace Corps training and new volunteers.  During her career at Berkeley-Haas, Kristi focused on her passion for healthcare and social impact.  She is now returning full circle with her new position in Liberia.   We sat down recently with Kristi to get a better sense of how she feels about this once in a lifetime opportunity, as well as what she is leaving behind at UC Berkeley and Berkeley-Haas.

Kristi in Zaire during her time in the Peace Corps

Question: What excites you the most about your new position?

Kristi Raube: “There are so many reasons why this position is so exciting.  First, this is an opportunity for me to be closer to the problems that I have been passionate about my entire career.  In many ways, this position will allow me to keep doing the work I have been doing these last 19 years, except now I get to be embedded in the solutions, as I have never had an opportunity to stay longer than a couple weeks.

Rt. Hon. Dr. Ruhukana Rugunda, Prime Minister, Republic of Uganda

Rt. Hon. Dr. Ruhukana Rugunda, Prime Minister, Republic of Uganda

That’s why I really love the Peace Corps approach.  They have 3 goals:  The first is to train the Peace Corps Volunteers to meet the needs of the community.  Second, they want to promote understanding of the United States to the people that Peace Corps volunteers are serving. Finally, they want to promote understanding of the communities where the Peace Corps volunteers serve.  Their method is very grassroots as they become embedded in the communities -they don’t just parachute in to do work and leave.

Second, I will get to continue my work with young people, in fact, many of the volunteers are about the same age as Haas students.  

There have been a lot of challenges in Liberia.  The Civil War ended in 2002 and many years were lost for young adults.  There wasn’t an opportunity to focus on one’s education or professional development.  In this role, I will get the opportunity to work with 50 people on my Liberian staff.  I will get to groom and shape staff and offer them the opportunity to develop themselves in their professional lives.  

I also am very excited about doing something good in the world and perhaps making a small difference. “

Kristi on a recent trip to Tanzania to visit her oldest son, who is volunteering in the Peace Corps

Kristi in Tanzania this Nov. 2017. She was visiting her oldest son, who is volunteering in the Peace Corps.

Question:  What are you the most anxious about?

Kristi Raube:  “My decision is affecting our whole family and in some ways, it is not just me going to Liberia to follow my dream, it’s everyone.  My husband is leaving his job and home to take this leap of faith. He has never been to Sub-Sarah Africa and he is doing this because he believes in me.  It is an amazing thing to have a husband who is willing to do that. Our family will be very far away.  One of our three sons will be finishing college in May and the other just started this year.  They won’t have their “home” to go to while we are away. They will need to travel a long way to see their parents.”

Question:  What will you miss about Berkeley-Haas?

Kristi in Zaire during her time in the Peace Corp

Kristi in Zaire during her time in the Peace Corp

Kristi Raube:  “I have been at Haas for almost 19 years and I am eternally grateful for the trust and support that people have given to me to grow as a leader, manager and as a teacher.  It’s been a journey.  I have embraced the Berkeley Haas Defining Principles to always push myself to be better.

And, it’s all about the people.  I am also going to miss the students.  Every year, you get a new batch, and they are smart, curious, open, inquisitive, enthusiastic and want to make a difference in the world.  What a fantastic environment to be in!   I will miss my faculty colleagues who are always asking interesting questions.  You can go to a million interesting talks and intellectually it is a candy store playground. Last but not least, I will miss my colleagues and staff. I feel really lucky working with this very  committed, wonderful group of people.”

Kristi with the 2016 IBD Team Samai at the IBD Conference

Kristi with the 2016 IBD Team Samai at the IBD Conference

Question:  Will you take any of the Berkeley Haas Defining Principles to your new position?

Kristi Raube: “All Four! This position and work are definitely embodying the “Beyond Yourself” principle, as we are really giving of ourselves through the work.  I think at the very start, personally, I need to focus most  on “Confidence without Attitude.”  I have a lot to learn.  I don’t know that much about the Liberian culture.  I need to be humble in the way I approach my work and so I can bring understanding to the issues and background and the why and how people are.  That links to “Student Always”.  For me, part of this is the challenge and the opportunity to really learn something new and stretch myself.  That is really exciting.  I guess I am also “Questioning the Status Quo” by deciding to move across the world to take this job instead of retiring here at Haas.  In some ways, all the Haas Defining Principles are not that far away from what I will be doing even though it is a different organization and clearly a different setting.  The Defining Principles really resonate with me as they are the way I lead my life.”

Kristi in Tanzania November 2017

Question: Do you know what your position looks like on a daily basis?

Kristi Raube: “I don’t know yet, but I do know who my constituents are!  The first are the 125 Peace Corps Volunteers in Liberia.  They are in every county of the country.  A lot of my work will be understanding the work that they are doing and what are their issues and problems, and where are they having successes.  I am very excited about this part of the job.  I will be responsible for training, safety and enabling them to be able to do good work.

The second group is the Liberian staff.  I have heard over and over that the staff has this amazing energy, optimism, and hard work ethic. I also understand that the Liberian staff need to have the opportunity to grow in their skill sets and education.

Kristi reading a letter from home during her time in Zaire volunteering for the Peace Corps

The third group of constituents are the Government, NGOs, businesses and America Embassy Communities.  I will be the representative and the face of the organization and as we think about where we will put volunteers and what they will be doing, I will need to work with the Minister of Education, Minister of Health and the President of the Country.  I will work with the other NGO’s and the businesses working in Liberia.  As you know from my work with the Berkeley Haas Institute for Business and Social Impact, I am passionate about the role of business and creating social good.  I will look to see if there are interesting opportunities.”

Question: What one thing do you think the individual who will steps into the role of Executive Director at IBD should know?

Kristi Raube:  “When I took over IBD it was all about rebuilding, but now, the Staff, Students, and Faculty components are all there and super strong. There is such great work being done and students are having great experiences.  Does that mean that there is no opportunity for improvements?  No, absolutely not.  The great thing about me leaving is there is an opportunity for someone to come in with fresh eyes and to look at these issues and figure out better ways to do organize IBD.  I feel really happy and proud of the work that we have collectively done and the foundation that has been left behind.”

Kristi and IBD's David Richardson in 2017 with Monica Wiese and Pablo Seminaro Butrich - IBD Alumni '05 and '04

Kristi and IBD’s David Richardson in 2017 with Monica Wiese and Pablo Seminaro Butrich – Alumni ’05 and ’04

End of Interview

The impact Kristi Raube has made on the IBD program is deep and invaluable.  Her passion and dedication to the mission of IBD — helping clients redefine how they do business globally, and providing MBA students with the opportunity to build their international consulting skills — has shown in all of her work.   Over her long career at Berkeley-Haas, Kristi has touched in the most positive of ways the lives of hundreds of students, clients, and colleagues.   As we say goodbye, we have no doubt that Kristi’s new Peace Corps and Liberian colleagues will get to know her as we have and come to appreciate all that she will bring to her new position. Please join us in congratulating Kristi on her new move to Liberia at ibd@haas.berkeley.edu.

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IBD’s David Richardson Travels to India and Singapore to Meet with Friends of the IBD Program

Berkeley-Haas alumni event in Bangalore

Berkeley-Haas alumni event in Bangalore

During the month of October, IBD Director of Business Development David Richardson traveled to India and Singapore to meet with Berkeley-Haas alumni and friends of the IBD program.

David’s travels included a few days in Bangalore, where he met with local alumni gathered together by Aditya Gokarn of Triton Valves Ltd.  He also visited with managers from Lucep, Housejoy, and Hotelogix.

After Bangalore, David flew to Pune, where he met with the management team of ElectroMech Material Handling Systems, and visited their factory floor.  He also paid a visit to Divgi TorqTransfer Systems and Lend-A-Hand India (a local NGO).

Meeting with Freedom English Academy class in New Delhi

Next up was New Delhi, where David met with USAID at the U.S. Embassy, toured a Freedom English Academy classroom, and co-hosted a Berkeley-Haas alumni event along with Abhishek Khemka of Nandini Impex.  The next day included a visit to World Health Partners.

After New Delhi, David traveled to Singapore, where he met with the startups Banff Cyber Technologies and Lucep.  He also met with the Counsellor, Innovation and Trade Affairs, for the Embassy of Finland in Singapore.  

Check out some of David’s India and Singapore trip photos here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm4VfjW9

Berkeley-Haas alumni event in Delhi

Berkeley-Haas alumni event in Delhi

 

IBD Suritex

Written by Gloria Gerngross,  Sophia Kaady, Deepak Nainani, Isei Nakae, and Lyndsey Wilson

The sun was setting on the rural landscape, the grassy highlands of rural Peru, as Gregor’s truck bounced over unpaved, rocky roads, all five of our team members squished into the backseat as he sped to the new textile workshop before night fell. We had spent the day in a bus from Lima, winding our way through the Cordillera mountain range for 8 hours and ascending 14,000 feet to Huancayo, where our client was waiting to introduce us to the women who worked in the textile workshop, and the alpaca breeders who lived in the highlands.Suritex-group

We arrived at the construction site with just 20 minutes to spare before the horizon was swallowed by the darkness. Gregor’s eyes lit up as he waved his hands, pointing at empty space above the large foundation as though showing his blueprint for the new plant. Where we saw exposed rebar and hand-laid concrete bricks, he saw a room for the women’s children to play, a resting area for alpaqueros that came to have their fibers weighed, graded, and dyed, and a weaving room four times the size of their current plant’s. We left inspired by Gregor’s vision for growing his small social enterprise and energized to use our business skills to enable this dream to become a reality.

Suritex 2 AlpacasThe Project

Our team was hired by NESsT, an Oakland-based impact investing firm, to help its portfolio company, Suritex, increase its revenues by expanding sales of alpaca-blend textiles into the U.S. market. Though Suritex prides itself on its high-quality products created through technically sophisticated dying, weaving, and fiber-blending methods, it is their impact on the rural Lima region that is truly incredible. Suritex pays above-market prices for alpaca fibers, ensuring continued livelihoods of agricultural communities. They hire and train single women to operate machinery and manufacture textiles, creating jobs in communities struggling to develop economically. Our team met several women who worked in their factory, and their young children played while they fed colorful yarn into the large looming machines.Suritex loom.jpg

Prior to arriving in Lima, our team focused on understanding the U.S. alpaca-based goods market, sales channels, and our client’s capabilities to create designs and products that U.S. customers would be excited to buy. However, the disparate nature of the imported alpaca-based goods (textiles, clothing, and yarn) market made it difficult to collect any quantitative data, so our team relied on information collected by visiting local stores, and interviewing sales partners and customers.

This preliminary research led us to conclude that our client needed a re-brand, targeted marketing towards high-income, socially conscious customer segments, and to emphasize their strong social and environmental impact to differentiate themselves among hundreds of textile importers. We were excited to meet the client, visit the processing facilities, and better understand how we could make Suritex stand out among competitive exporters of similar products.

Suritex - loom 2The Focus Changes

Once in-country, we learned more about Suritex’s technically sophisticated and uniquely socially-conscious supply chain. Our meetings with the textile mill workers and the alpaqueros confirmed the importance of scaling Suritex’s efforts, and inspired and energized us to develop a sales and marketing strategy so that U.S. customers understand the impact that their Suritex purchase will have on the community.Suritex working.jpg

It came as a surprise to our team to learn that our client had already hired a marketing consulting team, so we were no longer needed in the proposed re-brand!  While our team had initially focused on creating branding and marketing strategy that would enable Suritex to successfully enter the US market, we had to do a 180° pivot and reframe our project. When our focus had to change, we spent hours whiteboarding and reframing the problem, ultimately pivoting to more of a sales and product strategy. Our focus turned then on researching the logistics of how to actually sell products in the US: who to sell to, how to sell them, and which products to sell.

Suritex thread.jpgThe Final Presentation

Our final presentation provided Suritex with tactical recommendations on how to begin selling products in the US, and how to modify their current product offerings to ensure U.S. customer interest in their products. We provided a thorough go-to-market guidebook that included sales on online platforms (such as Etsy or Amazon), hiring a fulfillment center and sales reps to manage buyer relationships, and which certifications and trade shows to pursue to access the right B2B customers. Our client, a technical and operations-focused career manufacturer, was very happy with the detailed recommendations. Our team left energized by the important work of Suritex, driven by the knowledge that our recommendations would enable Suritex to reach its goal of building more manufacturing facilities closer to workers’ communities, hiring and educating more workers, and ultimately developing these rural economies to support the sustainability of this artisan trade.Suritex finished product

The 2017 International Business Development (IBD) Program Holds its Final Event of the Year, Celebrating the Teamwork of Berkeley-Haas MBAs

Full Audience and KristiThe International Business Development (IBD) program yearly cycle officially came to a close on September 15, 2017, with the final event of year, the IBD Conference, held at the Haas School of Business.  IBD student teams, both from the Full-Time (FTMBA) and Evening and Weekend (EWMBA) MBA programs, were tasked with creating posters that showcased their international consulting journey.  Berkeley-Haas faculty, guests and fellow classmates mixed and mingled among the 20 posters as teams shared their projects, final recommendations and in-country experiences.  The IBD Conference represented the first time IBD student teams came back together after the conclusion of their MBA summer internships in order to talk about the exciting project work they did in-country.

Judy and Aramis

IBD Faculty Mentor, Judy Hopelain, talking with EWMBA Team Aramis

It was a great time for reflection for many students, as well as an opportunity to speak publicly about the accomplishments of their IBD projects and the impact on the organizations and individuals they served.  Said EWMBA candidate Joe Layton about the Conference experience: “It was nice seeing that people wanted to hear about our project that much, since we love talking about it.”  Frank Schultz, an IBD Faculty Mentor and Instructor for both FTMBA and EWMBA programs, observed, “it is great to see students from both the Evening-Weekend and Full-Time MBA programs coming together, interacting, and sharing their projects.  You could clearly see why both programs are ranked so highly!”
The IBD Conference was also a great opportunity for Berkeley-Haas faculty and staff to engage with MBA’s in their element.  EWMBA Director of Academics, Mark Gorenflo, attending the Conference for the first

Mark-and-Beth-showing-Makarere

Team Makerere’s, Beth Foster, chatting with Haas Staff, Mark Gorenflo

time, said,

“I attended the IBD Conference to get a sense of the scope of IBD opportunities and the depth of each team’s consulting experience. I was amazed at the number of very different opportunities, with huge variety in geography, culture, and types of customers (private companies, public companies, non-profits, and government entities). I was also deeply impressed with the enthusiasm, rigor, and imagination that the IBD teams brought to their engagements.”

Poster-Session-in-actionAll the Conference posters, teams, and projects as presented were impressive.  Ultimately a vote was held to select the two best IBD teams to make a presentation to the general Conference audience.  IBD Faculty Mentors and students voted separately, picking EWMBA Team Samai and FTMBA Team Agripacific Holdings, as the two winners.  Click here to read more about their respective presentations.  

 

Following the two IBD team presentations came the announcement of the annual project

Sarah and Seva talking about project

Sarah Evans, from Team Seva, presenting their project poster

photo and blog award winners.  Upon returning home from their in-country journeys, students were asked to write blogs about their experiences working and living in a new country.  IBD student team blogs were posted weekly on the IBD Haas in the World Blog site.  IBD students are also asked to submit their “best team photo” and “aesthetic or art photo” to be judged by the IBD Staff.  Winners of the IBD photo contest will have their photos featured later in the IBD Hall of Fame in the Faculty Building at Berkeley-Haas. Click here for the Winners of the Blog and Photo Contest

After all the IBD team presentations and awards were handed out, and the last group photo was taken, it was time to say goodbye to the 2017 IBD program. As Executive Director and Faculty Mentor Kristi Raube concluded, “I’ve left the IBD Conference on a high, and although it is sad to see this all come to an end, we are ready to do it all over again.”  All of us in the IBD program look forward to another year of IBD in 2018.  To view the photos from the Conference, click here.  

IBD full class 

 

Team Flowers and Team Samai Present at the 2017 IBD Conference

Team Samai After the PresentationTwo student teams were chosen to present their IBD projects to the audience at the 2017 IBD Conference.  IBD Team Samai was the first to present.  This team was made up of Evening and Weekend MBA students Sushant Barave, Bill Conry, Dan Conti and Joe Layton.

Team Samai worked with a rum distillery in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  While Team Samai had a fun project, the students also talked about the impact they had on the Samai organization, as well as the recommendations they gave their client so they could scale the business “tactically and strategically.”  The student team also focused on making sure their suggestions were actionable once they left and, in fact, Samai was already Samai-presenting-with-power-pointimplementing some of their recommendations before they departed Cambodia.  Team Lead Sushant Barave declared, “I was surprised at how rewarding that feeling can be — that you design something, you recommend something, and the client is taking action on that.  That was the best part of it.”

The second student team to make a Conference presentation on stage was Team Agripacific Holdings, aka Team Flower.  Full-Time MBA students Mary Harty, George Panagiotakopoulos, Laura Smith, Leah Finn and Anne Kramer made up the team.  In order to understand the flower business in Asia, Team Flower traveled across China, visiting flower markets and distributors in Kunming, Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

Team Flower 4 of the 5 and flowersTeam Flower member Leah Finn said about the IBD Conference that “it was definitely fun to reflect on our experience in China, and to learn a bit about how it contrasted with the other projects. It helped me appreciate how adventurous and hands-on our IBD experience was.  I think it’s rare to get to experience so many different sides of China in one trip, so I’m grateful that we were able to have that experience as part of the IBD course.”  Team Lead Mary Harty agreed by sharing that “it felt great to share our experiences with the broader IBD community. As we presented, the photos and slides bought back so many fantastic memories for us all!”  To view the photos from the Conference, click here.Team Flower- Presentation for web.jpg

 

 

IBD Conference Announces the Winners of the Best Student Photos and Blog

Here are the winners for the 2017 IBD Conference

2017 IBD Photos Contest

Best Team Photo: Team CitiBanamex, IBD 2017 Summer

Joy Kim, Pamela Ju, Deepak Kurien, & Austin Lu

Citibanamex- Team

CitiBanamex at the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon in Teotihuacan, Mexico


Best Team Photo Runner Up: Team ACT, IBD 2017 Summer

Sampada Chavan, Kate Linarducci, Sen Raveendranathan, Yi Zhang, & Praveen Settipall

ACT-Team-Photo

Team ACT in Harare, Zimbabwe


IBD Best Aesthetic Photo: Team ACT, IBD 2017 Summer

Sampada Chavan, Kate Linarducci, Sen Raveendranathan, Yi Zhang, & Praveen Settipall

ACT-Nature-Photo

Team ACT’s photo of the sunrise on the Zambezi River, in Victoria Falls


IBD Best Aesthetic Photo Runner Up: Team Clearsale, IBD Spring 2017

Anna Braszkiewicz, Reginald Davis, Anik Mathur, Risa Shen, & Nolan Chao

ClearSale-IBD Landscape Photo

Team Clearsale’s photo of Sao Paulo, Brazil


Fifth Annual IBD Award for Best Blog

Best Blog: Team Makerere

Makerere- Team group adventuring for web

Tackling the Youth Skills Gap in Uganda: An Update from Makerere University

Written By: Team Makerere, Hans Klinger, Elizabeth Foster, Matthew Hamilton, Jeannie Valkevich, and Carolyn Chuong


The 1st Runner Up: Team YGA

YGA-Team-1 at Press conference for web

Updates from IBD Turkey – Touring Turkey with YGA and The Turkish Delights

Written by Amol Borcar, Annie Porter, Chelsea Harris, Jeanne Godleski, and Mariana Martinez


The 2nd Runner Up:  Team Tekes

Tekes- TeamIMG_0478

Updates from the IBD – Team Tekes in Finland

Written by: Lauren Elstein, Javier Gunther, Natalie Osterweil, Mitch Plueger, and Matt Shelton

 

 

Freedom with Responsibility. Trust. Excellence. Commitment. Authenticity.

Clearsale-picture-1Written by Anna Braszkiewicz, Reginald Davis, Anik Mathur, Risa Shen and Nolan Chao

Freedom with Responsibility. Trust. Excellence. Commitment. Authenticity.

These were among the ten core values that our IBD client, a Sao Paulo based tech firm, harbored as a part of their organizational culture. In our first week in-country, we sat down with the client’s People Development Manager to learn more about these values and why they were so important to the organization. Our team was impressed by how much our client emphasized the principle of “professional-in-a-person”—the concept that a professional career is oftentimes a large part of a person, but that people tend to separate the two once they are in the office. As a result, our client’s organization also wanted to cultivate the “person” and ensure that employees could truly be themselves. There were many affinity groups across the organization—ranging from video games, music, crafts, dance, and writing—to breed this personal development.

Clearsale-2

Our client’s People Development Manager walks us through their organizational culture.

IBD is no different with respect to a “professional-in-a-person”. Throw five Haas MBAs together in a conjoined Sao Paulo studio apartment for three weeks in a country they’ve never been in, and add a management consulting project for an international client on top of it—the two worlds are bound to intersect! So today, we’ll tell you about a typical day of our life in Sao Paulo—as both a professional and a person.

Although June is actually winter time in Brazil, the weather is still quite pleasant. I’d usually start my day off with a short run through the city on Avenida Paulista — often described as the “5th Avenue” of Sao Paulo. It’s filled with stores, museums, and cafes, and is one of the most bustling streets in this massive, sprawling city. It was a fascinating way to see the street art and architecture that Sao Paulo is well known for. In the morning, the team would all cook a light breakfast together and then take a cab to the company office.

Clearsale-3

A mural depicting Avenida Paulista near our apartment; the building with red pillars is the Sao Paulo Museum of Art.

It was then down to business when we arrived at the office. Our project was scoped towards market entry selection and implementation. Our client had recently expanded to a new office abroad and was looking for further opportunities to harbor their international growth and capitalize off of their new location. Once we arrived on-site, our day would often start with an internal interview, ranging from Sales to Marketing to Product.

We would also talk with agencies helping to

Clearsale-4

An Avenida Paulista building decorated as a basketball hoop during the NBA Finals.

coordinate the Foreign Direct Investment activities for both Brazil and our target country markets. These officials were great resources in underlining the importance of differences in business culture, and providing information about location strategies, business regulations, and trade patterns. It was great to hear multiple perspectives about internationalization strategy to test our hypotheses en route to our final recommendation

One of the big cultural differences our Haas classmates had told us about for Brazil was that lunch is a big deal! Lunches often are over an hour long, and the city is full of lanchonettes (“snack bars”) and “pay-per-kilo” buffets to fulfill your culinary desires. Some days were more special than others; Wednesday, in particular, is known for serving feijoada—a hearty Brazilian stew made with black beans, beef, pork, and sausage and typically served with a huge plate of rice.

Clearsale-5

The Sales, Marketing, and Intelligence teams gave us a very friendly welcome during our first week in the office!

After that, we’d synthesize our insights from the morning and seek further market research on foreign markets and the industry statistics within those markets. A large focal point for us was combing through multiple research sources to derive the correct data insights. The client’s industry featured a host of white papers and information, but oftentimes had contradicting points—a large part of our role was to carefully verify the data. Finally, after hours of research, it was time to head home!

After riding home through the hectic Sao Paulo traffic—sometimes up to an hour long—we’d either make a group dinner in the apartment or go out and try a restaurant in Sao Paulo. Another common culinary delight in Brazil is a churrascaria, or steakhouse. It would typically be served rodizio style “all you can eat”. Talk about a filling meal!

Clearsale 6

…Complete with team member Reggie Davis being tossed up in the air!

After dinner—if the rodizio wasn’t enough to send us to a food coma—we’d relax back in our flat—catching up with friends from home, watching Netflix, playing cards, or relaxing on the rooftop pool of our apartment. Before we knew it, it was time to sleep and get ready for the next day’s journey. Bon noche! (Good night!)

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Team Flowers: A Flower Market Tour of China

Written by Leah Finn, Mary Harty, Anne Kramer, Laura Smith, and George Panagiotakapoulos

A hydrangea greenhouse at Kunming Hasfarms

A hydrangea greenhouse at Kunming Hasfarms

Agripacific Holdings is a holding company that owns a number of cut flower farms and distribution centers across Asia, including its two main growing sites, Kunming Hasfarm in Yunnan, China, and Dalat Hasfarm in Dalat, Vietnam. For our IBD project, our team (a.k.a, Team Flowers) partnered with Kunming Hasfarm (KMH) to develop a marketing strategy for selling cut flower crops throughout China – at the moment, most of KMH’s flowers are exported to Japan, while the domestic market is primarily served through a small scale of imports from Dalat Hasfarms. As Chinese incomes rise, a growing middle class is spending more money on luxury home products like flowers, creating a promising market. KMH tasked our team with helping them strategically scale their domestic sales of cut flowers by considering the optimal target customers and sales channels.

For our in-country visit, KMH planned an itinerary that would give us a thorough look at the flower industry in China by visiting six cities – Kunming, Beijing, Shanghai, Hungzhou, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong – to tour flower markets, interview wholesaler customers, and even visit the farms of several of their competitors. Luckily for us, this meant we got to experience a diverse range of Chinese cultures, food, and sights as we learned about some of the nuances of each local market.

We began the trip in Kunming, a small (by China standards) city of 6 million in the western Yunnan province. We spent two days touring KMH’s greenhouses and learning about the processes of growing carnations, green wicky (a fuzzy green flower described to us as “soft, like a panda’s face), and hydrangeas. We also visited the Dounnan Flower Market, one of the largest flower wholesaler markets in China. The coolest part about this was the flower auction: an enormous warehouse full of lower-quality flowers (mostly roses) and a huge room to the side where wholesalers gathered to bid on them, Dutch auction style while smoking heavily and doing business on cell phones. It was quite a sight!

Flower auction in Kunming

In Beijing, Shanghai, Hungzhou, and Guangzhou, we visited KMH’s largest wholesaler customers and the Shanghai-based distribution center for the import business. Through our many interviews, we learned that KMH has a strong reputation as a high-quality grower; most of their wholesaler customers would buy more flowers from them if not restricted by supply. Since the China-based farm already had plans to expand growing, we saw an opportunity to organize their Shanghai- and Beijing-based sales teams to begin selling domestic product in those regions, rather than solely managing the import business.

Another powerful opportunity we recognized for KMH is the meteoric rise of e-commerce that has taken place in the past few years, impacting all industries. In many ways, China has surpassed the US in its use of technology in commerce: for example, rather than credit cards, nearly everyone pays for things by scanning a QR code on the item with an app on their phone called WeChat. In the flower industry, many startups have innovated by offering weekly flower delivery services through a subscription model, and several wholesalers have shifted all of their operations online. We had the chance to interview several contacts from these companies to learn about their innovative models. A key question we investigated for KMH was how they could incorporate technology into their business model, and how far down the value chain they should reach to implement it – that is, whether to switch from B2B (selling to wholesalers) to B2C.

Team looking over Beijing with 2 of KMH’s staff acting as our tour guides

The trip concluded with a trip to Hong Kong, where we delivered our final presentation at Hasfarm’s office there. In addition to recommendations about reorganizing their sales force and adopting a technology platform to track customer data, we discussed the trend we observed of new flower companies, particularly in the eCommerce model, shortening the value chain (typically grower to wholesaler to retailer to customer) to increase margins and lower prices beyond the offerings of their more traditional competitors. We encouraged KMH to pay attention to competitors adopting this model as the market grows.

Overall, we were incredibly impressed by the hospitality provided to us by our clients and associates in the industry. After nearly every interview or market visit, we were taken to an elaborate meal, treated to a tea ceremony, or toured around sights like Tianenmen Square by members of the KMH staff or their wholesaler clients. We feel lucky that this experience introduced us to the warmth, beauty, and diversity of China.

IBD Team Travels to Stockholm to Help Civil Rights Defenders to Implement a New Innovation Program

Written by Carol Macavilca Paredes, Elizabeth Miller, Ingrid Monroy, Beth Williams and Blakey Larsen

Our IBD Project took us to Stockholm to help our client, Civil Right Defenders (CRD), a nonprofit organization devoted to human rights founded in 1982, to implement a new Innovation Program that will foster the development and launch of innovations. We started with one simple question, how can we apply innovation to human rights? Easy to answer, right? To be honest, none of us knew the answer four months ago.

Work hard, travel hard was definitely the motto of our team. We worked 3 weeks in Sweden and visited 2 countries, Finland and Norway.

It was hard work, but we also had a lot of fun in beautiful Stockholm, a city with 14 islands and, in the summer, 18 hours of daylight.

Our first week in the CRD office was a whirlwind: We started by introducing our project to the entire CRD staff, who gave us a warm welcome. In the days that followed, we had a lovely meal at Communications Manager’s house with Swedish pizza…

…and participated in the Stockholm Internet Forum 2017, focused on the Internet Freedom for Global Development, in order to interview innovation experts for our project.

During our second week, the most memorable highlight was to be in the CRD office when it was revealed that the organization had won a court case in which they had been working for four years. Representing 11 of about 4,700 people included in the police registry of Roma population, CRD won the court case against the Swedish state in the Svea Court of Appeal. The state was found guilty of ethnic registration and discrimination and was ordered to pay 30,000 SEK in damages to each of the 11 Roma plaintiffs. We were moved by the words of Robert Hardh, Executive Director of CRD to all the staff the day they received the news, that these are the days they live for.

Also, we had an unexpected but happy news for us: two and a half days of holidays. We decided to visit the IBD Finland team in Helsinki. At the recommendation of our client, we went to Finland by boat. The ferry ride was 15 hours of fun!

We also went to Bergen, during that holiday. We took a full day tour to see some of Norway’s most beautiful fjord scenery. We experienced the scenic Bergen Railway, the breathtaking Flåm Railway, and the narrow and dramatic UNESCO-protected Nærøyfjord.

Our team was surprised to experience a uniquely Swedish challenge: doing laundry. In Stockholm apartments, washers and dryers must be booked weeks ahead of time in order to wash your clothes. With limited options, our team had to cancel plans one evening to get our laundry done. The team at CRD said we were real Swedes now!

One fun fact is that in Sweden, purchasing alcoholic beverages isn’t a simple matter. There are no privately owned liquor stores nor do grocery stores sell wine or any liquor. Sweden has a state-run chain of liquor stores called Systembolaget, the only retail stores allowed to sell alcohol. Problems arise due to their opening hours (especially for unaware visitors like us). The stores generally close at 6pm on weekdays, at 3pm on Saturdays and all Systembolaget are closed, without exceptions, on Sundays and holidays! So you need to keep this in mind and don’t wait (like us) until 2:50 pm on Saturday to run to the store.

Last week. We had our first fika in the office and our final presentation. Fika is a tradition in Sweden, is the moment that you take a break, often with a cup of coffee, but alternatively with tea, and find a baked good to pair with it.

IBD Team Works with La Clinica Oftalmologica Divino Nino Jesus, a Non-Profit Eye Clinic

Written by Mark Angel, Robert Gutierrez, Megha Kansra, Tyler Saltiel and Sarah Evans

As soon as we landed, the humidity knocked us out. Walking off the airplane, we immediately felt our clothes stick to our bodies and walked through the still, thick air toward the open-air baggage claim. We had heard the Amazon was humid, but we were not expecting its immediacy. Despite the unprecedented heat and humidity, we couldn’t contain our excitement to begin the in-country portion of our project.

Our team is working with La Clinica Oftalmologica Divino Nino Jesus (DNJ), a non-profit eye clinic based in Lima, Peru, dedicated to eradicating curable blindness. We had just landed in Iquitos, the largest city in the world not connected by a road and the “gateway to the Amazon,” where DNJ had recently expanded. We were to spend the next three weeks working with DNJ’s team to provide strategic marketing recommendations: one week in Iquitos and two in Lima.

Alberto, the executive director of the clinic and our main client, picked us up the next morning in DNJ’s van to drive us to its clinic, 40 minutes outside of central Iquitos. After a brief pit stop to push the van out of wet sand, we arrived at the clinic.

We spent the morning with Diego, the Outreach Coordinator in Iquitos, touring the clinic and learning more about the operations of the Iquitos facility. We even got to see the inside of the operating room where DNJ ophthalmologists perform their life-changing surgeries.

Hot, sweaty, but extremely inspired by the facility, we returned to our hotel to prepare for a meeting with Alberto held in our conference room for the week – the outdoor hotel restaurant and bar. After a productive meeting with Alberto discussing the financial performance of DNJ, we returned to the clinic the next day. Diego and Alberto were eager to have us interview patients and family members accompanying them on their visits. We stationed ourselves in an unused triage room in the clinic, and two by two, patients and their companions sat down to chat with us (en español) about their experiences with the clinic. We were immediately struck by patients’ gratitude and openness. One older woman excitedly told us about her beloved garden, and how grateful she was for the free cataract surgery that would enable her to tend to her garden once again. She and her daughter talked about the excellent service they had received, noted some areas for improvement at the clinic, and finally – to our surprise – gave us an invitation to their home. Another older gentleman, stylishly dressed with a Canon camera slung around his neck, waxed poetic about how eager he was to photograph the people and traditions of the beautiful Loreto region again.

As we spent more days in Iquitos interviewing patients, we continued to hear similar stories. Patients described DNJ as a “gift” and “blessing,” praising the personal attention of the staff. In Iquitos, a city accustomed to seeing NGOs shuttle in and out on a temporary basis, DNJ’s gleaming new Iquitos facility and world class staff, seemingly here to stay and providing services for free, prompted awe and surprise. By the end of the week, we were all deeply moved by the immense difference DNJ was making, and we felt doubly determined to provide impactful recommendations.

After a final day in Iquitos – spent boating down the Amazon (the world’s widest river) and feeding piranhas, alligators, and adorable baby monkeys – we headed back to Lima. In Lima, we extensively interviewed DNJ staff members, collecting their stories, recommendations, and perspectives on patient experience and marketing. A highlight was getting the opportunity to scrub in and watch a live cataract surgery conducted by one of the top ophthalmologists in Latin America. The head nurse patiently explained each step of the process, from the medical checkups of patients just before surgery to the steady incisions and movements of the surgeon to the final, triumphant moment – a mere 10-20 minutes after the surgery began – when patients were helped up off their bed and walked out of the clinic. We were amazed that in under an hour, we had watched a man get back his sight…for free.

After a final push to crystallize our recommendations, we made a presentation to the DNJ board and senior management. We were touched that the board attentively and eagerly listened to our recommendations, and even brought us gifts – delicious alfajores! They were excited about the opportunities ahead and the path forward we charted for them.