All Around the World; IBD Teams In-Country

Written by:  Danner Doud-Martin, Assistant Director, Operations for the IBD Program

When I introduced myself to the Full-Time MBAs on their first day of class for the Spring IBD program, I told them I wanted to either be the sixth member of their team or be stowed in their suitcases.  There wasn’t a team I didn’t want to join as all 16 were going to work with great clients, on impactful projects, and in amazing destinations.  Now that our IBD students are scattered all over the world and sending photos and updates from their first weeks in-country, I am of course envious, but also proud to be a part of a program like IBD.  I am living vicariously through our Haas students as they have experiences that perhaps will change their lives, or at least make these next three weeks incredibly exciting.   

Team YGA having breakfast on Bosphorus river

Team YGA having breakfast on Bosphorus river

Teams tell us that they have been welcomed by their clients and the other members of the organizations with warmth, appreciation, and support.  They have enjoyed delicious local cuisine, been invited to people’s homes and seen the local sites.  They have toured crane factories, hospitals, warehouses, and flower markets.  Teams have scrubbed up and witnessed eye surgeries in Peru, been included in their client’s internal pitch meetings in Shanghai, and invited to lunch by the Prime Minister of Uganda.  They have been featured on local Turkish television and have conducted 3-hour design workshops for university students in Uganda.   

Team Seva before going into to witness a surgery in Peru

Team Seva before going into to witness a surgery in Peru

Importantly, they have learned more about their client’s needs: “One interesting thing that we have realised in our first 2 days is how much more we know of the business and the internal politics behind our client by just being here; which is something not very clear when you are sitting that far away,” shared one Team Lead.  There is an opportunity now to “fill in our gaps in knowledge through the interviews, market visits, and retail store visits we have scheduled over the next several weeks. We look forward to the rest of the trip!” shared the Agripacific Team.  IBD Teams also feel more connection to the client’s objective and how important the project outcome is to their client.   “It is most exciting to be on the ground here and feel the immensity and importance of the work that our client does,”  shared Blakey Larson, IBD Team Lead for Civil Right Defenders.  IBD teams also see where and how they can add value.  Team Lead, Harsh Thusu said of his project, “we are most excited about helping the accelerator in this interesting journey as they are at a crucial stage of their operations and our recommendations could bring great value to them to tap into the US market with a sustainable business model.”

Team ElectroMech Team ElectroMech with crane

Team ElectroMech

On their first day in-country, IBD Teams gave a day-of-arrival presentation, updating their clients on their findings to date and outlining their 3-week work plan leading up to their final presentations.  Teams felt good about their presentations and expressed how “engaged their clients were.”  They appreciated the collaboration, feedback, and lively discussions.  Carolyn Chuong, Team Lead for Team Makerere said that their clients were “very enthusiastic and also helped us refine our Theory of Change for the Center and think through private sector needs.”

Client’s have already shared accolades about their Haas IBD team members.  Khamisi Masanje, from Makerere University, said:

“This team is exceptional. They are very innovative, articulate, friendly and professional. The team has the right blend of skills because everyone is so good at what he or she does while at the same time, everyone is working as a team. The testimony from our Makerere students, who attended today’s design workshop led by the IBD Team, were so amusing.  I like the natural blend they are having with our students, staff and the general population of Makerere.  We shall surely miss our Haas students when they leave”.

YGA’s Sezin AYDIN said of Team Lead Chelsea Harris’s performance at their press conference, “Chelsea has done a great job, you

Team Ananda

can see how clearly she conveyed her messages, in a calm yet positively energizing way.  We are very happy that we had a chance to offer this kind of experience to our team and very glad that we represented YGA & Berkeley and the mission we serve together in science center project the most beautiful way possible”.

My favorite compliment was from Makerere’s Charles Baguma who said, “I think we got a high-flying team from Berkeley”.  In my opinion, Mr. Baguma’s comment resonates with me because Team Makerere and all of the other 15 Full-Time IBD teams are exceptional.  Based on their photos and comments, all the teams feel they are flying high right now.  Is it because of the incredible opportunity to work internationally on a consulting project? Is it because of the impact that our students are making on the company and the region or the bonds that are being formed between team members as they share this incredible journey? Is it the beautiful places they are visiting and the culture that they are experiencing? It is all of the above and more!  

You can enjoy their adventures by friending us on Facebook at bit.ly/facebookibd.  Each week we will post a blog written by each IBD team highlighting their experiences, and our first one written by Team Makerere can be found here.   You can also subscribe to our blog by going to bit.ly/ibdblog.

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Evening Weekend IBD Program Kicks Off

EWMBA IBD Students

While the Full-Time MBA (FTMBA) program is at the end of their engagement with IBD, 18 Evening and Weekend MBA (EWMBA) students kicked off their IBD experience on May 14th.  This is the 6th year that the course has been offered to EWMBA students and although the program is very similar to the FTMBA course, there is one significant difference: time.  The summer program has much less of it overall, as students only have seven weeks of instruction and two weeks in-country working with clients.  EWMBA Teams are also made up of 4-5 students and led by a Team Lead, who is a classmate but unlike the FTMBA Program, the EWMBA Team Leads don’t have the additional weeks to work with their client to build rapport and gather intel on their project before their Team Members join the project.  Instead, they have to jump right into the process and establish themselves as a lead of their project to their client and teammates.  When asked about his strategy for being a Team Lead at this point in the process, the Samai Distillery Team Lead, Sushant Barave said:

Team Aramis

“Although we are at a very early stage, I am realizing how amazingly competent our team is. In a way, this makes my job as a team lead quite easy! I hate to call it a ‘strategy’ because it really boils down to keeping things really simple at this stage – having open communication, a structured approach to understand and address client’s needs, and making sure that all of us are having fun in the process!”

This is a sentiment we hear often from Team Leads in both the FTMBA and EWMBA programs.  The Aramis Menswear Team Lead, Kalyan Pentapalli shared, “I have a very experienced team and sometimes it feels intimidating leading three third year students, but they have been gracious enough to let me set an example and lead.”

Lead, motivate, organize, delegate, and manage work streams is what our EWMBA Team Leads will do as they prepare to go in-country on July 1st.  It’s a quick turn-around and with full-time jobs and other obligations, it is a lot to manage.   “It has already been great working with the team, and we are getting familiar with each other’s working styles. Given our crazy schedules collectively as a group, we have also been open to calls ranging from 7 am to 11 pm – this goes to show the flexibility and commitment from the team members”, shares Barun Mazumdar, a member of the Aramis Team.

Many students come to Haas because of the opportunity IBD gives them.  The Team Lead for ACT,  Praveen Settipalli, was determined to take IBD before he graduated despite having a new baby and starting work at a startup.  He heard first-hand experiences about IBD from his classmates and he, like so many others, felt he could benefit from the opportunity to work on an international consulting project.  “As a product manager, IBD will help me renew my core-consulting skills of framing the problem, lead a diverse team to formulate the strategy and obtain resources for successful execution. Doing this in a different industry/culture with a team of amazing Haas MBAs will also teach me how to lead across diverse environments. Personally, the IBD structure would allow me to embrace uncertainty and openness and immerse myself in a new environment. I also hope to reflect on my current environment and leadership style while at the client location and come back not just with awesome solutions for the client but also unforgettable memories and experiences.”

Team Samai

Frank Schultz, the Instructor and Faculty Mentor for the EWMBA program is confident that his students will be able to balance all of their competing priorities to find personal and professional successes from their IBD experience.   “I have been teaching the EWMBA IBD program since inception and every year I appreciate how much my teams dedicate themselves to their client and projects to provide true ROI – despite their day jobs and their families.  I have no doubt that this year’s students will work very hard and like every year, they will enjoy getting a taste of consulting in a global setting.  They will undoubtedly come back from their two weeks in-country with new perspectives, tools, and confidence to try different approaches.”

Teams will travel all over the world this July.  Praveen’s team will work with a social enterprise that provides entrepreneurship training and mentorship to young Zimbabweans and Sushant is taking his team to Cambodia to work with a rum distillery start-up.  We have one team that will travel to Mexico to work with a consumer and corporate financial services company, and Kalyan’s team will work with a privately held 20-year old menswear retailer in Brazil.  We are confident that these EWMBA students will have unforgettable and invaluable experiences.

Team ACT

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

Our sweet ride while in Kampala that we affectionately call the “Mute-mobile” (our IBD team is creating the strategic plan for the Mutebile Center at Makerere University)

Our sweet ride while in Kampala that we affectionately call the “Mute-mobile” (our IBD team is creating the strategic plan for the Mutebile Center at Makerere University)

We arrived in Uganda around midnight, which meant we needed to wait an extra day to see the bright blue sky, rich red clay, and lush green foliage of East Africa. However, what we didn’t have to wait for were the bright smiles of the welcoming Ugandan people. Charles, one of our clients at Makerere University, was awaiting our arrival with a Berkeley baseball hat, personalized sign, decaled car, and a grin ear to ear. This would become standard during our first week in-country, when we would meet Makerere students, university professors, the Governor of the central Bank of Uganda, the Prime Minister, and many others.

Our team is working specifically with the Makerere University Private Sector Forum (PSF), which was established 11 years ago as a public-private partnership in the country’s largest and most prestigious university. The Forum’s mission is to bridge academia and the private sector to foster socioeconomic development throughout the country. It’s now launching a new center, for which our IBD team is creating the strategic plan, that will address the youth skills gap in Uganda.

Jeannie Valkevich demonstrating how to create a journey map

Jeannie Valkevich demonstrating how to create a journey map

Before arriving, and continuing into our first-week in-country, we’ve conducted over 50 interviews across what our client calls the ‘trinity’: Academia, the Public Sector, and the Private Sector. Part of the process was understanding the student perspective and, in particular, their pain points as they enter the workforce. To that end, we carried out a design thinking workshop for 23 students, led by our team’s former rockstar teacher (and timekeeper connoisseur) Jeannie. After a silly icebreaker that involved some pretty embarrassing dance moves on our end, we asked students to draw out their “journey maps.” Students mapped out the high points when they felt encouraged and confident about the career development process, as well as low points when they felt confused or discouraged. Given that the students were overflowing with ideas Jeannie had her work cut out facilitating the group discussion.

Matt Hamilton showing off his flawless dance moves during the icebreaker

Matt Hamilton showing off his flawless dance moves during the icebreaker

The workshop really started to get rolling after the break. Four groups of students, each paired with one IBD team member, began to ideate on potential programming for the new Center. After diverging, we encouraged students to converge around an agreed upon set of programs. The groups came up with a number of creative ideas–everything from a student-run farm, to a marketplace to share student ideas with the private sector, to a cross-faculty idea sharing platform. The groups then presented their ideas and recommendations (Shark Tank style) to PSF leadership. And they weren’t shy about asking questions or challenging each others’ proposed programs. As we closed out the session, we had to cut off half-a-dozen raised hands and ask them to keep the conversation going after the workshop. It was pretty inspiring to see how much energy the students had at the end of the three hours. One of the PSF staff members Patrick remarked afterward, “Our students often feel like their voices don’t matter–they were so happy to have their perspective considered.”

Hans Klinger working with the students as they begin to converge on a program idea for the center

Hans Klinger working with the students as they begin to converge on a program idea for the center

After wrapping up the design workshop, we headed over to the Parliament of Uganda to meet with the Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, who just happens to be a Cal Alum. Dr. Rugunda has been a staunch supporter of this new center at Makerere University from the start. Before getting down to business, he was eager to hear which states in the U.S. we hailed from. He was back on campus just a few years ago for a class reunion, which I’m sure made some of his classmates feel unaccomplished. Apparently, Berkeley hasn’t changed much since 1978. He also mentioned there was an East Africa Berkeley reunion in Kampala just a few months ago–pretty cool knowing there’s a Cal Bears community in this part of the world. Before heading out, we gave Dr. Rugunda a Cal pennant as a gift, which we’re sure certain he’ll hang behind his desk, right next to the flag of Uganda.

Left to right: Jeannie Valkevich, Matt Hamilton, Khamisi Musanje (Makerere University), Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda (Prime Minister of Uganda), Carolyn Chuong, Beth Foster, and Hans Klinger

Left to right: Jeannie Valkevich, Matt Hamilton, Khamisi Musanje (Makerere University), Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda (Prime Minister of Uganda), Carolyn Chuong, Beth Foster, and Hans Klinger

More to come from Kampala soon!

IBD Teams United – The 2017 Full Time MBA IBD Program “Big Reveal”

017 Full Time MBA IBD Program “Big Reveal” Day

Finally, the wait is over!

The Spring 2017 IBD program Team Leads, faculty, and staff don’t have to stay quiet any longer.  The IBD “Big Reveal” event took place on March 2nd when each Team Lead welcomed their respective Team Members with a short two-minute video on their client, their industry, and their overview on what the team has been tasked to solve.  Team Leads also included information about their project destination and what they might experience while living and working for three weeks in-country.  Finally, Team Leads presented their four new Team Members with a small gift that represented something about their project country or client.

Said one Team Member of the experience, “The IBD reveal day was a lot of fun. (Team) Leads did a great job staying silent until the day of so it remained a mystery, which I loved. The videos were hilarious and all of the gifts were so thoughtful.”

Team Tekes has hugs all around

Clapping, hugs and handshakes were exchanged after each IBD team was revealed.  

Another incoming IBD Team Member commented that “I loved seeing all of the fun videos and learning about all of the projects!  The local country specific gifts for team members made the reveal especially tailored and fun.  I was so excited to find out that I’d be spending my summer in Thailand, with a great group of people, working in a new industry.  It is sure to be a fun experience and I look forward to being challenged personally and professionally along the way.”

Team ARM meeting for the first time

Once the IBD project “Big Reveal” was concluded, it was time to get the newly formed groups working on a team building exercise called the Viking Attack – a longstanding IBD tradition.   Building successful team dynamics is one of the main goals of the IBD course; IBD Executive Director Kristi Raube often describes IBD as “teamwork on steroids.”  Although there are many courses at Berkeley-Haas in which MBA students work in teams, there isn’t one quite like IBD in which students end up spending three weeks together outside the US working on a consulting engagement.  As Kristi Raube put it, “we really emphasize teamwork, as students will need to rely on each other in-country.  International work is all about being flexible and being able to handle unpredictable and difficult situations.”  

YGA Team Lead giving her new Team Members yummy baklava

Over the next seven weeks leading up to the departure to their respective project countries, IBD teams will work to gather more insights from their clients, conduct extensive research, and tackle the problems they have been tasked to solve.  At the same time, Kristi Raube and the IBD Faculty Mentors will work with the students on IBD course goals like developing consulting skills and techniques, communication and storytelling skills, and understanding cultural dynamics.   As Faculty Mentor Judy Hopelain observed at this point in the course, “My teams are excited, revved up, and they know what they are doing.”  

Team G-Hub

Tune in next month when we check back with the IBD teams on their progress, and we learn how ready they are to head out on their international adventures.  

To see all the photos from the Spring 2017 IBD Program “Big Reveal”, click here.  https://drive.google.com/open?id=0ByYfWhxK5s7RUzJQX1BULU11VFk

Team ElectroMech

 

Nan ga def! Mangifi!

Nan ga def! Mangifi!

Welcome to Dakar. Nestled in the Cap-Vert peninsula, Dakar is the westernmost point of the African continent.

picture1          A beautiful beach in Ile de Goree, off the coast of Dakar

A city of contrasts where gleaming Range Rovers and broken Renault cabs jostle for space on the same lane, towering beachside mansions overlook decrepit shanties. And bold new-age enterprises, dysfunctional government and age-old agriculture makeup the Senegalese economy.

The first thing that strikes you in Dakar is the construction. There is an undercurrent of urgency in a city bursting at its seams as people from all over Africa, and around the world flood to it, seeking opportunities in a resurgent Africa. We visited and met scrappy entrepreneurs in a number of incubators in Dakar – working on bringing technology to transform deep social causes. 

picture2           Dakar is bustling with construction

Africa has leapfrogged the traditional banking system, with mobile banking. With over 100% mobile penetration, mobile payments and mobile money transfer are slowly replacing the cash based economy. Our host InTouch hopes to make this readily accessible to a wide swath of the population with a digital point-of-sale system as an aggregator of payments. From day one, we hit the ground running to figure out a strategy for expansion and growth for InTouch’s products.

picture3             Tigo is one of the top 3 mobile money operators. In the foreground is a                                                          rebooting Windows screen.

Our main focus was understanding the market landscape and the adoption of InTouch’s current product. We had already prepared a couple of solutions before landing in Senegal – so that we could quickly validate our hypothesis and present to InTouch.

picture4           Usability research at gas station where the product is deployed

 

picture6          Market validation with local retail stores

We visited CTIC (an incubator) and Jokkolabs (a co-working space) in Dakar. It was fascinating to meet and interact with the entrepreneurs from all over the world working on making a deep impact on some of the social challenges in Africa.

picture5                        Visiting incubators and co-working spaces in Dakar with Yann LeBeaux

Vincent, the Innovation director at UNICEF was looking to use data analytics to become a nimble and agile organization. Adam at Voto was working on technology that could be used to gather survey data from social workers in far-flung regions. Malick at Africa Mobile sought to build a service to reach uneducated massed via web and mobile communication tools. And Bagore & Edouard at La Laiterie du Berger are looking to create a distribution channel for milk produced in rural Senegal to meet the burgeoning demand in cities like Dakar. We also met a passionate Daouda Gassama at the AEME who is bringing in an age of energy efficiency to Senegal.

picture7          Met the passionate Daouda Gassama and his wall of energy efficient lights at the AEME

As a part of our secondary research, Mike also figured out that Senegalese eat 29 Kgs of fish every day. One of our goals was to consume 29 Kgs of fish in 2 weeks. Thus began a search of the local Ceebu Jen (thiéboudiène), Yassa Poisson, Grilled Thiof, Crevette et lotte, and all sorts of deliciousness. Incidentally, we also found that Ravi does not like to wait for his food – a point made amply clear while waiting repeatedly for the local made-to-order Thiof.

picture8      Food was always on our minds in Dakar

Yogesh earned the nickname of “Yekini” given his uncanny resemblance to the professional Senegalese wrestler Yekini. That and his love for fish heads and sparkling water.

picture9           Apparently Yogesh bears an uncanny resemblance to the wrestler Yekini

Our gracious hosts took us sight-seeing over the weekend to Sine Saloum islands in South Senegal. This was a weekend of touring the local villages, fishing in the delta, pickup soccer on salt flats, seeing our first ever sun halo and attending a local wrestling competition. Evenings were spent taking in the spectacular African sunsets and more eating.

picture10     Amazing Sine Saloum

 

picture11    Spectacular African sunsets

This was one of the best experiences we have had at Haas. Thanks InTouch team for hosting us.

picture12     We can fit in the back of a beat up Renault or a horse cart

An Invitation to Help Transform Agriculture in Ethiopia

Like all the other IBD stories, ours is a story of international travel. Of exploring a country for the first time. Yes, we tried new food and saw amazing new things (our oldest known human ancestor, 12th century churches carved into hillsides, and much more).

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We survived the government shutdown of the entire country’s internet. (Yes, really) We fit all of us PLUS our intrepid client/guide into his tiny car from the 80’s.

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Collectively, we even tried every single domestic beer brand (not as impressive as it sounds, considering there are only nine of them) and lots of Ethiopian buna coffee.

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But more interestingly, it’s also a story of agriculture in a country where over 80% of the population depends on the sector for their livelihoods. It’s a story of a country determined to achieve middle-income status in the next 10 years and of the proud and optimistic people across numerous sectors who are working to make this a reality.

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So it’s not really a story about us. It’s a story about an invitation. An offer to share a vision and contribute in some very small part to projects that could one day help an entire country produce key crops more efficiently and effectively. Reaching this goal will mean food security for 100 million people. Exports that provide income for public investment in roads, health systems, and schools. An opportunity for children to become educated and pursue jobs that will help their families have more than the generation that came before them.

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This is a story about Ethiopia. About the people who work here every single day with the hope that someday, together, they will reach these goals. So instead of talking any more about us, we’d like to share the story of just two of the many amazing people we’ve met over the last two weeks.

Taressa

Input Supply and Distribution Head at the local government level an hour outside of Addis Ababa

Taressa is young, a sharp dresser. He seems out of place in his surroundings – the local branch of the Ethiopian Agricultural Bureau. The office where we conduct our interview is cramped with three desks, one computer, several filing cabinets, and shoulder-high piles of what could be anything from reams of paper to leftover and forgotten agricultural inputs. By lining chairs up between the desks, we find room for everyone to sit.

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As Taressa tells us about his job, the most incredible thing is that he doesn’t seem at all frustrated by a system we view as infuriatingly outdated and redundant. Each day, Taressa spends up to eight hours on the phone collecting transaction data from 20+ primary cooperatives (agricultural distribution centers) under his office’s jurisdiction. When no one else is using one of the two working computers in the office (the one in front of us is off the “functional” list) he can update an excel sheet with his findings. If not, or if the electricity is out, he records information by hand and waits for an opportunity to update the excel sheet. Once updated, he prints it out and walks or catches a ride to the center of town to hand deliver the sheet to another office. When we ask about emailing it, he laughs. There is no internet in the office.

But he doesn’t seem upset. He smiles the entire time we’re talking and is optimistic that there are ways to improve the system. He takes us to see a primary cooperative and animatedly discusses different options for digitizing their inventory tracking system.

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Meeting Taressa gave us a newfound respect for the young people who dedicate their time and talent to improving the lives of smallholder farmers. And we left with the hope that our project can in some small way make his job slightly easier, and in turn help to improve others’ livelihoods.

Melaku Admassu

20 years working for DuPont Pioneer, the only private multinational company with current permission to sell seeds in Ethiopia

We met Melaku, the Country Manager for DuPont Pioneer  Ethiopia, at his administrative headquarters on Peacock road in Addis Ababa. We entered the building, which looked like a converted private residence, and were welcomed by an older man wearing a tweed suit and a warm smile.

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Melaku has worked for Pioneer in Ethiopia for twenty years and, though his humble demeanor won’t allow him to say it out loud, is largely responsible for the international company’s success in a country whose agricultural industry is almost entirely dominated by public sector enterprises.

At the end of our interview, during which Melaku showed extensive knowledge of both the agricultural sector in Ethiopia and innovative marketing and business practices, we asked him one final question and received an amazing answer –

Q: What is your background and why do you do this work?=

A: My background is in agronomy. When I was young, my father was a teacher but he also farmed the land. I still remember when one day a government extension agent came to our farm and he said “you should use this fertilizer” and my father, he said, “why do I need this? All I know is manure.” And the man said to my father, “Okay, don’t use it for your own sake. Use it because you are a teacher and you need to show everyone else that this works and will make their crops better.” And my father said “I’ll do this for the people.” I still remember that.

When I started this work as pioneer employee, I went to this smallholder  farmer and asked him. “Please try this improved seed.” He looked at me and said, “you know I have two wives and sixteen children to provide for. If I take your seed and it doesn’t work, you’ll be responsible for killing my family.” And I said, “Okay, I believe in this seed. I’ll take the responsibility.” He planted the hybrid corn seed I gave him as a sample (free of charge ) plus my advice on agronomy management and he harvested three fold of what he used to harvest from the same plot of land, secured food for the whole year, and started convincing his neighbors later the community.

Now, 20 year’s later, he is a big man. We promoted him from a Pioneer Extension Partner (model farmer) to a seed dealer and he has expanded from half a hectare of cultivated land to 16 hectares. His productivity has increased and his  income is also growing because he is implementing  best practices. Before, he had to decide which of his children could attend school, because he didn’t have enough money for uniforms and supplies for all of them. Now, four of them have graduated from university and the rest are all attending school. He has upgraded the grass roof of his house to corrugated iron, bought a television and radio, and now has a mobile phone to be able to keep better track of  agricultural market information. I was talking to him last month and he was going to another city for his son’s graduation. He was taking his younger wife with him I asked him, “oh, how long will your drive be?” and he replied, “We’re flying! I want my wife to experience riding in an airplane.”

Melaku smiles and says, “This is what our seed can do. It helps people. And when I see their success, it is my success. It’s like all their good fortune, it’s in here,” he touches his chest, “not just in their pockets.”

We feel similarly about our project and our time here. It’s a class, it’s an adventure, but it’s also a labor of hope. Hope that the project recommendations we make here will someday help the people we’ve met do their jobs more efficiently and, in turn, help farmers grow better crops for their children, their communities, and their country. If our project recommendations put more money in the pockets of the people who truly need it, their good fortune will be reward enough for our work. We are grateful to Haas for providing us with an amazing experience and an opportunity to go “beyond ourselves.”

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Getting started

To get a sense of the evolution of our project, one could start with the name of our team. Initially, we – Theo, Vaisakh, Josh, Asli, and myself (Cameron) – were assigned to groupelephant.com, a South African for-profit company with a  “three-zone” business model consisting of a for-profit software business as well as non-profit and impact investing activities around wildlife conservation and poverty alleviation. The client was frustrated that all of the good work it had done for conserving elephants and rhinos had gone nearly unmentioned in the press, and hired us to turn that around.

After a semester in Berkeley figuring out how to market this unique business model to a corporate audience in the U.S., we decided to refocus our efforts on just the non-profit entity of groupelephant.com, ERP – short for Elephants, Rhinos, and People. We were fortunate to work with Quintin Smith, a Haas alum himself, who embodied the passion and entrepreneurial spirit we came to recognize in all of ERP and groupelephant.com.

On The road!

The highlight of our three-week trip was without a doubt heading down two days after we arrived to a wildlife reserve in the Eastern Cape. The reserve had recently suffered a tragic rhino poaching, and we were there to discuss steps the reserve could take to protect the rest of its herd. These conversations dovetailed nicely with one of our final deliverables, developing an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign for a technology-driven rhino security solution.

Every good Indiegogo campaign has a short video to go along with it. So we had to take to the streets – er, the dusty trails – of the reserve to start shooting some film.

To get the best lighting, we woke up at the crack of dawn for some sunrise safaris…

Our director and team lead, Theo, with his cinematographer Rob (of ERP)

Our director and team lead, Theo, with his cinematographer Rob (of ERP)

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…and went back for round two as the sun set:

 

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With this trip, we really took mixing business and pleasure to new heights – we struggled to think of another time when we’d be holding team meetings around a campfire, or conducting research from the back of a safari truck.

Enjoying my fifteen minutes (seconds?) of fame as a stand-in for our interviewees.

Enjoying my fifteen minutes (seconds?) of fame as a stand-in for our interviewees.

Our crew hard at work

Our crew hard at work

As much as we loved our time on the reserve, eventually, we had to pack our bags and say goodbye.

Me, Josh, and Vaisakh on a final ride with our German-Spanish-French tour guide Pablo

Me, Josh, and Vaisakh on a final ride with our German-Spanish-French tour guide Pablo

A weekend retreat

Fortunately for us, the Quintinator was not about to let us go back to Pretoria quite yet. Instead, he and the rest of the crew took us up to Modumela, a ranch several hours north of the city.

After several days of filming and focusing exclusively on our Indiegogo campaign, we needed to step back for a moment to think through our project’s broader objectives.

Hard at work, clearly

Hard at work, clearly

But it was the weekend, and we made sure to relax:

Learning new hobbies

Learning new hobbies

Grilling full chickens!

Grilling full chickens!

Closing down the campfire at 2? 3am?

Closing down the campfire at 2? 3am?

The real work begins

When we got back to Pretoria, we buckled down in the office and got back to work. We had a gargantuan task ahead of us: taking a semester’s worth of research, conversations, and observations and coming up with a succinct yet comprehensive branding for this burgeoning non-profit. Very quickly, we realized that this work was more than just a marketing exercise; it was getting to the heart of ERP’s strategic first, figuring out how to communicate it second.

Like any good first-year Haas students, we got our PFPS on:

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The Windy City

Despite being in crunch time, we managed to find time to get away, just the five of us – the dream team. We spent the weekend in beautiful Cape Town, taking a much needed break from everything branding, marketing, and frameworks.

Asli making some new friends

Asli making some new friends

 

Blown away by Table Mountain!

Blown away by Table Mountain!

Elephants, rhinos…and sea lions?

Elephants, rhinos…and sea lions?

Wrapping up

In the end, we delivered a comprehensive branding and marketing action plan for our client. This final report provided some realistic, actionable recommendations for coordinating ERP’s communication from the inside out.

It wasn’t always the easiest process – we took the liberty of proposing some bold new ideas, and the clients didn’t always pick up what we were putting down, sending us back to the drawing board. This entire experience was undoubtedly a valuable learning process. If anything, we learned that, for all of the immense value of the Haas core curriculum, what works in a business setting isn’t always the most feasible for a young non-profit. We didn’t realize it at the time, but our challenge was adapting what we had learned in Marketing (and in Strategy, Leading People, Leadership Communications…) and adapting it for an untraditional setting. Three weeks and many Post-Its later, we can confidently say that we “cracked the code” on non-profit marketing.

All done!

All done!

As for me, I learned that, when you have the right crew by your side, getting around the South African bush on crutches isn’t so hard. I wasn’t sure what three weeks abroad while unable to walk properly would be like, but with help and support from my awesome team, I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. It was, as Josh would say, truly something special.

The Big Five

The Big Five

IBD in Zimbabwe Week 1

FTMBA students Sebastian Pflumm, Rodrigo Calmet, Julian Garzon, Benjamin Irarrazaval, and Chloe McConnell were in Zimbabwe working on an International Business Development (IBD) project.

The first week of our International Business Development project flew by for us five Haasies based in Harare, Zimbabwe. Our project is to develop and teach a two-week entrepreneurship program, named ACT (Apsara Capital Trust), to young Zimbabweans who are passionate about social change. Our client Henri Lambert, owner of Apsara Capital, founded the intensive design-thinking program two years ago to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Zimbabwe that catalyzes economic development and fights unemployment. While our IBD team is a diverse mosaic of nationalities and backgrounds, we share a common work ethic, sense of humor, composure, and dedication to our project.

First Day of Class

Irene, our local and indispensable program manager, picked us up at 6:45 a.m. on the morning of Monday May 16th. Having worked on lesson plans, Powerpoints, online pre-courses, and logistics for the past two months in Berkeley, our team was anxiously quiet on the bumpy car ride to the first morning of class. As we looked out the window onto the Harare streets, we noted the contrast between the huge houses, malfunctioning street-lights, and large pot-holes. We didn’t know what to expect, both in terms of our students’ skills and the general classroom experience. It was not only our first time in Zimbabwe, but also our first time teaching a structured program. Additionally, due to unexpected problems with our Colombian teammate’s visa, we were one team member short. As we pulled into the school at 7 a.m., we were surprised to see that many students had already arrived. The school, our office for the next three weeks, is a large house in the Milton Park neighborhood recently converted into a center for entrepreneurship named Udugu Institute. The students cautiously mingled with each other as we checked them in. Their backgrounds range from the founder of the University of Zimbabwe Entrepreneurship Club to a preacher-turned software developer to a young amateur rapper.

ACT_1_fvChloe McConnell teaching the Introduction to Design Thinking class on Day 1.

Our biggest take-away from the first day, was how passionate, excited and bright our students are. They are willing to work hard to change their communities for the better and we left the day incredibly excited to help them realize their dreams.

Diverging and Converging in the Classroom        

Over the next 5 days, we experienced the sun-soaked winter Zimbabwe days as we ran the students through the design thinking process while simultaneously teaching them the business skills necessary to launch their ideas. As the intensity of the work built throughout the week, so did the comradery within the teams. Breaks and teamwork time starting filling up with laughter and heated discussions. The teams’ focuses range from waste management to organic farming to increasing employment opportunities for semi-skilled workers.

ACT_2_fvRodrigo Calmet working with a team on insight generation.

Luckily, our Colombian classmate Julián finally received his visa to enter Zimbabwe after five lonely days in Johannesburg. We welcomed him with salsa music and a whiteboard full of messages from the students in local languages.

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The students welcoming Julián Garzón to Zimbabwe after he finally received his visa!

ACT_4_fvJulián Garzón with the winners of the marshmallow challenge.

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A passionate team working late into the night on their business idea.

Adventures Outside the Classroom        

We are staying in the walled neighborhood of Gunhill at the Guinea Fowls Rest Inn and eat out most nights. Harare has a plethora of food options ranging from the local sadza and stewed meat to tempting Thai eateries. Our favorite spot, named Amanzi, hosts trivia every Wednesday. The five of us, Henri, and Irene formed a team named after the tasty South African Cabernet Sauvignon we were imbibing and were immediately hooked on trivia. Our excitement did not make up for our sub-par knowledge of miscellaneous facts, leading to an underwhelming middle of the pack finish. We committed to practice for the next week.

During the days, we’ve explored Harare by accompanying students on their fieldwork. When visiting the Central Business District and the Avondale and Barrowdale shopping markets, we noticed Zimbabwean’s positivity and friendliness despite the distressed economy.

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Chloe McConnell taking a Kombi into town with the students for fieldwork.

On Sunday, our first day off, we embarked on a group neighborhood run, relished in a long breakfast, and drove out of town for a hike. The beautiful rocky landscape of Ngomakurira is rife with green algae-spotted rocks and cave paintings. The scenery was ideal for group portraits and we took the time to stage some shots.  We then hit the driving range for a fun, but competitive, putting tournament to round out the day.

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Rodrigo Calmet, Julián Garzón, Sebastian Pflumm, Benjamin Irarrazaval, and Chloe McConnell (members of Team ACT), pose during a hike in Ngomakurira.

Concluding Week One

Our first 6 days of teaching left us exhausted, yet exhilarated. We feel at home in Harare and are inspired by the work and ideas that our students have developed. We are ready to work closely with our students to develop business models, financial plans, and a tight story that they will pitch to investors next week.

 

 

From Silicon Valley to Abobo

Naomi Logan is a full-time MBA student working on an International Business Development project with the Jacobs Foundation in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. She and her team of four other MBAs are exploring ways to improve education in developing West African countries through low-cost technology.

Walking into school
The sounds of recess are unmistakeable anywhere. When we walk into Abobo’s primary school we are greeted by a chaotic courtyard teeming with kids running, yelling, and laughing. Abobo, a suburb of Cote d’Ivoire’s capital Abidjan, is densely populated and individual classrooms can include up to 100 students per teacher.

We are in Abobo to observe a pilot that our client, the Jacobs Foundation, is running with Côte d’Ivoire’s Ministry of Education. They have equipped pilot schools with tablets, training, and basic software designed to improve reading and math skills.

As we make our way into the classroom, a corridor of kids forms around us eager to check out the visitors. With pale skin and bright red hair, I especially stand out. Some tentatively tap my arm, and excitedly wave when I smile back. As we’re seated, the teacher has to shoo away kids from another class that are crowded around to see what we’re doing.

Jacobs_girl-fvStudents in CP1 (first grade) ready to start class

Digital classrooms
The teacher hands out tablets, and after warnings not to break them, the students are set to log-in. Even the most basic password (12345) takes some explanation as they are just learning how to count to 5. However once the kids are logged in, they display the intuition of digital natives. An error message pops up on one girl’s screen that she can’t possibly read. But she navigates back to the home screen, reopens the app, and is ready to practice drawing the letter “a”.

The excitement is palpable, and the teacher has to repeatedly clap and tell the kids to sit back with their arms folded to calm them down. In an older class this is less of an issue, but the dedicated focus on their tablets shows the real potential for technology to help keep students engaged in such large classes.

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Students logging in to their tablets

Bringing Silicon Valley to the Ivory Coast
The route to digitally-enabled classrooms will not be easy. As we’re discovering with field visits and interviews, infrastructure like electricity and internet are sorely lacking in most schools. Teachers, themselves often unfamiliar with technology, need substantial support managing technology in the classroom. And aspiring education technology enterprises will need support from a Ministry of Education that is just beginning its own technology journey.

However, we’re here to understand these challenges and how technology solutions might help improve education in Côte d’Ivoire. After months of researching companies ranging from global success stories to the edtech explosion in our own backyard in Silicon Valley, we’re eager to advise our client on the types of businesses that might make both a difference and a profit in West Africa.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be meeting with technology companies, education non-profits, startup accelerators, government staff, and more to understand how the Jacobs Foundation can best support appropriate efforts and business models in support of bringing education technology to Cote d’Ivoire. There’s a lot to learn, but we’ll also make time for weekends at the beach and lots of local food.

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Our team at a maquis, the local name for a casual bar/ restaurant

As we wrap up our visit in Abobo, the kids have grown braver. They reach out to feel my hair and skin, or grab my hand and walk with me. By the time I’ve reached the gate I have an entourage of at least a dozen waving me off. There are plenty of office visits and brainstorming sessions to come, but ultimately this project is all about how technology can change their lives.

 

Updates from IBD Kenya – Team UN Women

Berkeley-Haas MBA students Liz Liu, Sevda Gundogan, Sneha Sheth, and Tiffany Shieh participated in a summer IBD project in Kenya with the UN Women.

Quick background: This project is about empowering women in Kenya and Sub-Saharan Africa at large by providing online entrepreneurship modules. We were asked to find the target segment that would create the biggest impact, tailor Lean Launchpad trainings to the Kenyan context and the target segment, and then write scripts which will be turned into online videos by UN Women.

Women Entrepreneur Focus Groups

Throughout our three weeks in Kenya, we conducted interviews with ten organizations ranging from banks to technology companies to university programs. Through the interviews, we uncovered that UN Women should target high-potential, urban women entrepreneurs who had access to internet in order to make the largest impact. After identifying the target segment, we met with over 30 women entrepreneurs to further understand the challenges they face.

We found that the top priority training modules the women needed were 1) introduction to entrepreneurship 2) finance 3) sales and customer acquisition 4) marketing. We then developed the training scripts and iterated the writing based on feedback from women entrepreneurs to tailor the training to the Kenyan context.

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Technovation Challenge

One highlight of our fieldwork in Kenya was the Technovation Challenge, an app design competition for high school girls in Nairobi. The challenge was organized by Safaricom and we were invited to attend and observe. This was truly and inspiring experience for all of us. We saw 16 year old girls create applications for emergencies, healthcare, and other social causes. They had not taken any formal business or coding training, but they had intellectual curiosity and the courage to build prototypes. We spent a day with them and talked about their dreams. They all wanted to change the world and we could see that they all were capable of this. Kenyan females, from illiterate middle-aged women to high school girls, are powerful and impressive.

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Team Bonding

We came to IBD as four different women from various continents and backgrounds. We didn’t know each other before. We have noticed that IBD brought us together because we all had something in common. We were passionate about creating a better world, empowering women, bringing gender equality through education especially in the least developed parts of the world

We talked with women from various industries and age groups. We discovered their needs and got surprised by how women all over the world were subject to the same discriminations and challenges.

This IBD project was not only a business trip to Kenya but also a personal growth journey for all of us. We got to know each other and ourselves. We discovered how we have faced similar challenges in our careers with the Kenyan women. We shared our passions, our dreams with each other on education and women empowerment. While working on empowering women in Africa, we have noticed that we empowered each other during these five months.

Getting to know each other was the best part of IBD for all of us.

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