Greetings from Bangalore in southern India! My colleague Jennifer Tsai and I will be blogging throughout our summer here as SIIF Fellows. Before we delve into our work, we’ll each give a short introduction. Here’s mine:
Late last fall, during my first semester as a full-time MBA student at Stern, I attended an info session on a new class debuting in the spring of 2011. About two minutes into the presentation, I knew it was for me — experiences like this were exactly why I came to business school.
Allow me to back up a few more years. After graduating college I joined a start-up non-governmental organization (NGO) called Mapendo International (recently renamed RefugePoint). RefugePoint’s mission is to protect and rescue the most vulnerable refugees in Africa, and much of my work entailed travel to refugee camps and urban slums across the continent to assess conditions and conduct project feasibility assessments. RefugePoint’s work – like many NGOs – entails close collaboration with a miasma of NGOs, governments, and United Nations organizations, and through this work I was fortune to see first-hand the function and disfunction of the world’s humanitarian systems.
As I continued in the work, I became more and more interested in the efficacy of management structures and the role that the private sector could play in many of the post-conflict situations I found myself in. I came to Stern to explore these interests further, knowing I would return to these themes after I completed my MBA. Fast forward to the info session: as I sat listening to Hans Taparia, co-founder and President of Preferred Brands International, speak about the newest course at Stern, Social Entrepreneurship Incubation, I was hooked.
About five weeks later, I found myself in Bangalore with a dozen other students from a number of NYU graduate schools: Stern, Gallatin, ITP, and Wagner. We had divided up into teams, and our mission was straightforward: spend the next several weeks learning as much as possible on the ground. When we returned to NYU, we would spend the spring semester developing for-profit social ventures that made a positive impact on society. My teammate Jenny Tsai, a fellow first-year Stern student, and I agreed to spend our time focused on maternal health.
With that I’ll give Jenny a chance to introduce herself…
more soon, dear readers!
all best, matt