Independent Projects: Examples of Impact
The primary obstacle to receiving credit and the main cause of the 'missing middle' is the lack of a credit history. By measuring dimensions such as intelligence, integrity, and business acumen, the Entrepreneurial Finance Lab (EFL) has created a tool to determine the credit worthiness of entrepreneurs, and to help unlock the multi-billion dollar potential of the informal sector in developing countries. EFL a google.org funded project that has been tested over the past 24 months in 5 countries, over 2 continents, and in 7 different languages. These tests have been performed in flagship financial institutions ranging from MFIs to Venture Capital firms, and have demonstrated a capability to reduce default rates by 30-40%. The HBS team assisted in all aspects of the business model, including pricing, customer selection, and company formation.
TProject Helios is a start-up social enterprise that aims to reduce the incidence of skin cancer. The organization is leveraging innovative technologies and forging creative public-private partnerships to increase skin cancer awareness and promote healthier behaviors. Project Helios’ unique business model is designed to maximize health outcomes and to enable the venture to scale across the United States and beyond.
The study focused on the fundraising opportunities for Women of Means from corporate sponsors. It focused on the viability of corporate fundraising, the identification of new funding sources, and the resources needed to reach these corporations.
The field study team had the opportunity to work with Partners in Health in Rwanda (Inshuti Mu Buzima or IMB), a large scale, highly effective healthcare operation in Southern Africa. Faced with tremendous growth and expansion in the organization, local leaders were eager to develop and improve their project management, finance, human resources, and communication skills. The main task of the field study team was to develop and document a business curriculum for the Rwandan leadership.
In addition to the management training for IMB leadership, the team created a basic entrepreneurship and business training course for the many nascent businesses in nearby rural districts. IMB had recently established a microfinance lending program that provides loans to individual and family businesses.
Working together with members of PIH Boston and PIH Rwanda, the team delivered installments of both the leadership development course and small business training on-site in Rwinkwavu, Rwanda in January 2010.
The group analyzed selected European giving and fundraising markets and found some key opportunities related to inefficiencies in the current fundraising processes used by smaller nonprofits. Due to both fiscal and technological reasons, online giving seemed to make lots of sense but the market is surprisingly underserved. The team worked with the leadership of GlobalGiving.com and surveyed a number of non-profit and large corporate executives to evaluate specific opportunities in Europe. The project might ultimately lead to the creation of new online tools for social entrepreneurs in Europe.
In partnership with Enterprise Solutions to Poverty (ESP), we recommended and designed business partnerships and product designs for China Mobile to enter the mobile payments market. As the largest telecom company in the world with over 600 million customers, China Mobile’s move into microfinance offerings could have a massive impact on the ability of the rural Chinese population to access financing. The opportunity to do payments, deposit savings, take out credit, etc through the mobile phone will contribute to income generation and productivity boosts across China’s 1.2 billion people.
Working with a mobile healthcare business in Asia to determine how they can better monetize their collected data and leverage their platform to expand healthcare at the base of the pyramid.
ISR was a business plan for a rural Africa distribution company. Here’s the exec summary: Many readily available products could transform small businesses at the base of the economic pyramid. Several of the product manufacturing companies also do in-house distribution, brand management and after-sale service. However, such a vertically integrated company is likely to face significant distribution challenges and ends up providing products to rural consumers at an unfair premium. A distribution company could utilize scale and technology to cut costs out of transportation and pass on savings to retailers and rural consumers. This proposition would create significant financial returns for investors and, as a positive externality, allow the rural poor more disposable income.
Social impact investment generates a social or environmental value as well as a financial return. While impact investing has gained traction and is positioned to address persistent development issues, questions remain about the sectors sustainability. In our field study, we have explored key challenges to impact investing, current position and outlook, and key long-term performance drivers. To accomplish this we conducted primary and secondary research on several impact investment funds focused on investing in the developing world. Our initial research included gaining an understanding of financial returns and sustainability of selected funds as well a detailed examination of current industry trends and various business models. We then analyzed key challenges including dependence on donor dollars, the trade-off between social and commercial returns, bankable deal identification, and human capital and related compensation structures.
For our field study we worked with a new national coalition to help identify potential revenue streams from their membership base. The coalition is in its second year and has launched many valuable initiatives, but was struggling on ensuing it could cover its costs. By interviewing current members it became clear that although the coalition was offering many great services, not all them the members would be willing to pay for. The members would need to be able to see great value in order to be willing to pay. We then focused on helping the organization evaluate where they are today and where they want to be, and offered recommendations on how to re-align their strategy.
It was a great learning experience to see how to operate in this space, the benefits of aligning your strategy and how our business skills can really make a difference that can impact others.
Project: Entrepreneurial Finance Lab (EFL)
Focus: Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SME), Financing, International Development
Team: DJ DiDonna
Project: Project Helios
Focus: Public Health
Team: Harish Hemmige, Rishi Shukla, and Chris Trombetta
Project: Women of Means Corporate Fundraising Study
Focus: Homelessness; Healthcare, Women-Needs
Team: Tiffany Craig
Project: PIH Rwanda - Leadership Development and Small Business Training
Focus: Management Training, Microfinance Training
Team:Michael Hill, David Lee, Jennifer Tom, and Trang Tran
Project: GLOBAL GIVING (International Online Giving / Fundraising)
Focus: Expanding online giving/fundraising outside the USA
Team: Francesco Tronci
Project: China Mobile - Financial Services and Products
Focus: Mobile Banking and Microfinance
Team: Mark Younger, Albert Tseng
Project: Mobile Healthcare in Emerging Markets
Focus: Going-to-scale, monetization, mobile (cell phones) platforms, healthcare
Team: Scott Werry, Robert Gray, Aadil Mamujee
Project: Product Distribution in West Africa
Focus: Product Distribution
Team: Yaw Agyenim-Boateng
Project: Critical Success Factors and Challenges in Impact Investing
Focus: Emerging market impact investing
Team: Nickyl Raithatha, Mary Mei, Jessica Shannon
Project: Worked with a coalition for specific area of youth development
Focus: Moving to a self-sustaining revenue model; Strategic positioning; Intermediary
Team: Kate Banting, Cira Cuberes Hernandez