How do you create an (almost) fully blown business plan for Rabea, a 33 year old Moroccan lady living in Spain, whose children are both at school and would like an opportunity to regain the autonomy she had in her home country?
Answer, invite nine different NGOs to a Jornada de Innovación and let them run wild with a whiteboard and some post-its.
Last week we held our first Jornada de Innovación. The aim of the day was to demonstrate the Design Thinking process to representatives from various NGOs and organizations in Madrid, including Oxfam, IE Business School, whilst also using the ideas to harness the creativity of our peers in designing potential programs to aid immigrant entrepreneurs.
This summer, I have oscillated between feeling grounded and balanced one moment and completely upended the next. Each day brings together the confidence that I am adding true value to SVdP and its real estate portfolio, with a deep seated sense that there is a huge amount of dysfunction in our cities that we are not currently addressing as a community.
I'm spending the summer working for Design Revolution (www.d-rev.org), a small startup, nonprofit design firm focused on developing technologies to improve the health or income of individuals living on less than $2/day. My official job description says that I am working on a marketing and distribution strategy for the low-cost phototherapy device that we prepared to launch in India by the end of the year.
India is teaching me patience. This is a tremendous task, India has its work cut out for it, but I think it's working.
When I told friends I was going to spend the summer in India helping Embrace market their Infant Warmer product, I got the occasional raised eyebrow, the requisite "dont drink the water" comments, and the standard cautionary words about "delhi belly". These were all the things I expected to get from India, what I didn't understand was how profound an impact this country would have on that evasive trait that seems to have been left out of my genetic make up - patience.
When I began my summer at NewSchools (a venture philanthropy fund that invests in educational entrepreneurs), I definitely thought that the experience would be "more finance than art." I couldn't have been more wrong! Not only have I used more of the analytical skills from my Art History degree at Oxford more than those from Goldman, but I have also had the opportunity to do and see some pretty amazing things.
Let's start with the movie screenings...
This summer I'm working with Acumen Fund: a social venture fund serving the four billion people living on less than $4 a day. Acumen Fund's aim is to create a blueprint for building financially sustainable and scalable organizations that deliver affordable, critical goods and services that elevate the lives of the poor. Started in 2001, Acumen Fund has close to 50 full-time employees (including 10 in its India office) and focuses its investments in the areas of health, housing, energy, agriculture and water.
I am six weeks into my fellowship working with the Department of Energy's Recovery Act Team.
PoST students investigate how social technology (e.g., blogs, websites, podcasts, widgets, community groups, social network feeds) can change attitudes and behaviors in ways that cultivate social change. They study the strategies and tactics used by companies and causes that have successfully catalyzed social persuasion and attempt to create their own social good by using social media.
It's hard to believe that I'm already at the mid-point of my internship with Aspire Public Schools - one of the country's most successful charter-school management organizations (CMOs). The past five weeks have been inspiring, challenging, fascinating and frustrating.
For the last two weeks, I've been travelling across India speaking with doctors about the Embrace infant warmer. I've been everywhere from Mumbai--which has a population of around 20 million--to Kauriram, a town in Uttar Pradesh near the Nepalese border with only 5,000 - 10,000 residents. With product launch right around the corner, I've been trying to understand what aspects of the product doctors find most valuable and what preferences they have around sales and distribution models.