This summer I am working for a charter network in the fortunate position of running a month-long pilot program to test its hypotheses about blended learning, peer tutoring and teaching computer programming at an elementary school level.
Are incubators/accelerators generating a $-value add to the impact investing space? This is the question I am trying to answer while interning at I-DEV International. I-DEV International is a management consulting and financial advisory firm for companies in emerging markets and "Making the $-Value Added Business Case for Incubator/Accelerator Services" is one of the projects I have been assigned to during the summer. The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) asked I-DEV International to conduct a 360 degree research project that would quantify the $-value add that incubators/accelerators are having today in the impact investing space and develop a framework for objectively comparing incubators/accelerators against each other going forward. Many believe that incubators/accelerators are generating value by closing the gap between investors and entrepreneurs, reducing the due diligence costs and the deal sourcing costs for investors, but none of these have been proven yet.
I am working as the Director of School Operations for a charter elementary school in Brooklyn, New York. The charter school's mission is to close the achievement gap by serving minority students in low socio-economic status neighborhoods. In order to help them carry out their mission and expand their school, I have taken on many roles and responsibilities for the first time. These firsts include manual labor (lots and lots of manual labor), managing a team of five (all older than me), firing high school interns, getting yelled at by the mothers of aforementioned high school interns, nicely negotiating with third party vendors, aggressively negotiating with third party vendors, hyper-aggressively negotiating with third party vendors, and managing all aspects of a major project. So far, I've had many successes and also many *learning moments* (read: failures).
My project for the summer is to put together a training strategy, specifically for operational processes and IT systems, for all types of new hires at the CMO, i.e. principals, teachers, deans, office managers, special educators, counselors, etc. My charter school has been leading the practice of using student data to better deliver quality education to the underserved communities. As they add on more and more schools to the network, a streamlined training program to teach all new hires how to use IT systems and key processes has become more and more imperative.
A lot of people think poverty in the U.S. means not being able to eat out that much or take that many family vacations. In reality, it means sharing one bedroom with four family members, or sleeping out of your car. It means buying fast food at drive-thrus on your way from one job to the next. It means prioritizing calories over nutrition when shopping for groceries because you can't afford both. It means that a $10 movie ticket is out of the question, and you wouldn't have the time anyway. It means no health insurance, so you better hope that the body you're running into the ground through manual labor and a poor diet doesn't quit on you. Don't ignore this need just because it's less exotic than working in a slum in Nairobi or the countryside in the Philippines. And lest we forget that we're business students -- where there's a huge need, there's a huge market.
If you know me well, you also know that I wake up every morning, excited to start the day with a much-needed, wonderful cup of coffee. I can barely function without it! Yet it wasn't until recently that I began to think about the small-holder farmer that works around the clock to make sure I can drink that cup every morning. Meet small-holder farmer Don Mario.
In my pre-GSB life, I worked for an investment firm in Boston, managing middle market private debt and equity investments. Three weeks ago, I shipped off to rural Bhutan to spend my summer working on operations and finance for an agricultural early stage venture. My goal: deepen my operational and managerial tool kit within a very tough professional and personal environment. This has been quite a change indeed …
The pace of summer sometimes slows to permit more time to dive into a good book and refresh our thinking about issues that matter to us. This year I’ve polled a number of friends and colleagues to share some favorite reads, both newly published and bookshelf favorites. The titles cover a grab bag of topics, all relevant in some way to our mission to create a more just, sustainable and prosperous world.
Over the past five months I’ve worked in Yangon and explored the city center, industrial zones, towns and villages. I’ve spoken with business owners, investors, and business intermediary organizations, government policy and aid agencies, and local and international nonprofits. You might think I’d have a clear sense of what is going on here, where opportunities are, and the path the country should take moving forward. I do have a more complete understanding of Myanmar than when I arrived, but I am also more aware of how many layers there are to any "truth" in this rapidly changing country.
What has happened to the American Dream – the idea that freedoms granted in the U.S. provide opportunities to prosper, succeed, and move up the socioeconomic ladder through hard work? The reality is that initiative and effort are often not enough to get Americans out of the traps of poverty, and that the gap between the haves and the have-nots continues to widen. In an interview with Steve Zuckerman, MBA ’87, and Managing Director of Self–Help’s California operations, he revealed insights specific to financial challenges and solutions for the poor and underserved.