Working at UrbanCaring this summer, I got to make and implement a lot of recommendations as to how we could improve the product and service, how we can tell our story to investors, and how we respond to clients and caregivers. Starting again in September, I look forward to staying involved and driving our seed round of funding and our growth plan for the Bay Area.
This summer I spent 10 weeks at Roxbury Prep, a network of three public charter middle schools (expanding to open a high school in 2015) that constitutes the Boston region of Uncommon Schools, a national nonprofit charter management organization. Through the Education Pioneers Graduate School Fellowship, I also benefited from being part of a cohort of 35 graduate students and recent graduates dedicated to improving public education.
August 8 marked the end of my internship at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Innovation Center.
While a lot could happen in the remaining two weeks of my internship, it's looking increasingly likely that Goodwill of Silicon Valley (GWSV) will be launching a new social enterprise sometime in the late fall or early winter. This is incredibly exciting news - first and foremost because of the job creation opportunities that it presents - but also because it will be stemming directly from my work this summer.
Two early wins catapulted us to the third stage of the design thinking process and moved us to implementation. Our recommendation of adoption of a bar coding system was instantly absorbed by the system - they saw the need, they could foresee the benefits, and most importantly they understood that the cost benefit tally tilted in favor of a go. Tenders for scanners and printers were issued within a week with an on-site implementation timeline as early as the end of August. Our second big win was permission to host a conclave of deputy and assistant registrars across departments. Their job descriptions were similar but their approach different. There were several pockets of excellence but limited institutional know-how. We often found during the course of our interviews that one team's challenge had already been resolved by another team's innovation. We hoped to create forums of thought exchange and ideation amongst this group of peers, and the conclave did definitely provide that. The surprise win however, was the unintended impact of empowerment where several officers internalized their ability to cause change and affect process efficiencies in their departments having seen the initiatives of their peers.
I started out my search for a summer internship looking for opportunities where finance and sustainability converged. Naturally, impact investing was one the fields where I started to look for opportunities, and managed to find a summer position at Sonen Capital, an impact investing fund-of-funds. One of my main interests was to understand the relationship between sustainable business practices and long-term financial performance, and the extent to which these practices could either reduce a firm's risk profile and/or enhance its return profile, consequentially affecting its risk/reward ratio. Furthermore, I wanted to gain insight on the mechanisms used by PRI signatories to assess ESG performance in the firms they choose to invest in, and to what extent ESG-based investment decisions will (hopefully) guide investment capital toward more sustainable firms and/or industries.
Ever heard of moringa? Most people in the United States haven’t, and when I first say the word, they often think I’m mispronouncing the Latin dance or the dessert made from egg whites. Moringa is the latest of many superfoods to reach American shores, but it’s the real deal: Its nutritional profile and incredible resilience have earned it the nickname “miracle tree.” And it is at the heart of Kuli Kuli, the Oakland-based food startup with which I am interning this summer.
Researchers find that the perceived status of those in need can be an important factor in determining how we help.
On our first day, as we ascended the wide steps of the historic and heritage colonial building that houses the High Court of Bombay, the big thought that occupied my mind was how the audacity of our goal, to change a 150 year old institution that prides itself on conserving its tradition, did feel like a BHAG indeed. Our introductory tour was focused entirely on the pride in the historical relevance of the High Court -- where Mahatma Gandhi practiced as a lawyer when he came back from South Africa; also where Bal Gangadhar Tilak was tried and declared guilty of being a traitor; and most importantly where the English Judges delivered judgment after judgment against the British Empire in favour of the common Indian Man. The Rule of Law -- the most fundamental ingredient in the fabric that holds together the world's largest democracy -- is upheld and espoused by the very judges and administrative personnel we were here to assist. What role did management jargon of efficiency, optimisation and queuing theories have in these higher corridors of justice delivery? Turns out, quite a bit.
I am spending this summer at Accion's Venture Lab in Washington, D.C. Accion is a global nonprofit that has been one of the leading institutions in microfinance over the last forty years. Accion invests in microfinance institutions (MFI's), using an approach that combines management, investment, and governance. Typically, Accion will invest in a microfinance institution, bring in experienced staff to serve as general branch or line managers, and also take a board seat. One of these investments have been particularly successful: Compartamos, was in fact the subject of a case in fall quarter. As a result, Accion has made a significant amount of money on exit of its investments, and because of its nonprofit status, needs to invest that money in a manner consistent with its mission of promoting financial inclusion around the world.