Yale MBAs to Aid Local Business on Spring Break Trip to Madagascar
New Haven, Conn., February 20, 2006—
Twenty MBA students from the Yale School of Management (Yale SOM) will put their business skills to work for a good cause over spring break. The group will spend two weeks in the island nation of Madagascar performing pro bono consulting work for socially focused organizations.
Global Social Enterprise (GSE), a student organization at Yale SOM that provides pro bono consulting services to organizations in developing countries with the goal of making a positive social impact, is organizing the trip. It will take place March 4-19.
Working in groups, the students will assist three client organizations—Habitat for Humanity, the Andrew Lees Trust, and Mad Imports—with business development and environmental projects. Habitat for Humanity has enlisted the students’ help in creating an eco-tourism marketing plan to increase the number of participants in their Madagascar Global Village program that brings volunteers to the country to build homes. For the Andrew Lees Trust, a nonprofit focused on social and environmental projects in Madagascar, the students will create a business plan to establish a co-operative style coconut plantation and recommend an ownership structure for the co-op. Mad Imports, a socially responsible company that sells handmade art and accessories from Madagascar and Kenya, has asked the students to assess and implement new marketing and distribution strategies that will enable the organization to grow.
The students began working with the client organizations and conducting preliminary research for the projects in January. Their work will continue after the trip with a number of students planning to return to Madagascar this summer.
Dairo Isomura ’06, co-leader of GSE and a trip organizer, said the trip is an opportunity to apply classroom learning in the real world. “I think this is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many us. It’s an opportunity to get hands-on experience in industries and in a developing country that we may not encounter later in our careers. To be able to take what we’ve learned at Yale SOM and in our past work experience and contribute it to these organizations that are doing meaningful, socially responsible work is very unique and rewarding.”
In preparation for the trip, the students are enrolled in a half-semester, two-credit course titled “Managing Social Enterprises in Developing Countries” with faculty advisor Professor Nat Keohane. The course, taught by faculty from across Yale and guest lecturers, is tailored to the Madagascar experience. Classes cover Malagasy history and culture and management techniques that can be used to help social enterprises in developing countries.
The students will be accompanied on the trip by Yale SOM Dean of Students Patricia Pierce and Yale Professor Marc Rubenstein. Administrators at Yale SOM are evaluating the Madagascar trip as a model to bring international work experience into the curriculum.
During the trip, the group will post their experiences in a blog that will be available on the school’s website.
In addition to Madagascar, Yale SOM students will also travel to China for the fourth annual China study trip, Nigeria, and Washington, DC over spring break. In each location, the students will meet with political leaders and executives from various sectors and participate in cultural events.