A central and highly distinctive element of the Carey Business School's Global MBA program, the Innovation for Humanity Project is an international learning experience that develops agile and creative business leaders who gain first-hand knowledge in building sustainable businesses in developing markets.
During the first semester, Global MBA students research the cultural, political, and economical challenges facing the region they will visit.
The heart of the program is the three-week residency, where Global MBA students travel to one of several site locations. Upon arrival, students work with local community leaders to solve real world challenges – like public health, deteriorating infrastructure, and social welfare – with the help of the business practices learned during the previous semester.
Students then complete and formally present recommended solutions to these issues to the communities they serve.
During several trips to Rwanda, students worked with local entrepreneurs and government officials on health care technologies aimed at bettering public health. Included in their work was the implementation of a phone texting technology and patient records management system for the nation’s health care system, as well as creating a social and financial analysis of rapid diagnostic testing kits for specific diseases.
Half of the world’s blind population lives in India; this presents a staggering health care challenge for the country’s leaders. A group of students in this year’s program worked with the LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), a well-reputed nonprofit focusing on eye care for the nation’s underserved, to address an integral business issue: customer satisfaction.
Students surveyed LVPEI patients’ satisfaction and found that extended wait times were a major detractor (one LVPEI facility sees 700 patients a day). Using the survey data, the students developed a new patient management system, which included a new patient flow mechanism developed using skills learned in the operations management courses at Carey.
Addressing the issue is critical for LVPEI and the nation as a whole, as the large nonprofit services a large segment of the nation’s poor population by employing a cross-subsidization model, which allows low-income patients to pay affordable rates for eye care.
“It’s a competitive issue,” said Ryan Ross (GMBA, ’16). “Even though they have the best doctors, people aren’t going to wait all day to see them. And as soon as they lose full-paying patients, they lose the ability to treat the supported patients.”
LVPEI has implemented the system in some of their clinics and has adopted the student-created patient satisfaction survey system for future use.
Students worked with an indigenous, all-women’s organization on creating sound business infrastructure for a small flour milling operation the organization operates for the betterment of the local community. The students discovered the business was operating at a significant deficit, and implemented several techniques to reverse its fortunes.
Deployed to Denver, a group of students helped invent a new educational pyramid for a charter school focused on educating students from low-income communities in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
Carey students assigned to Peru heard a common refrain from impoverished residents of Lima’s slums: we need stairs. Stairs to where? Turns out, everywhere. Built into the side of a mountain range, transportation is a daily struggle for the community’s exploding population.
The problem is one of several facing the community, which also has no access to running water, failing infrastructure, poor health conditions, and limited food access. So how, in a community with so many issues, do you make a lasting difference?
Working with TECHO – a nonprofit volunteer organization focusing on providing services to the impoverished – students created a matrix-based tool to evaluate the viability of future projects.
The tool uses a weighted grading system to produce a scorecard for potential projects, which culminates in an overall score for each proposal. The system is designed to objectively compare competing projects, which then allows the community to prioritize projects with the largest impact.
“It answers the question: how necessary is this project for my community?” said Dan Givol, (GMBA, ’16). “This tool is live and working.”
The matrix has been handed over to TECHO, and has already played a major role in preventing the implementation of a potentially disastrous project.