Our Story

In April of 2020, Sarika Mendu (MBA 2020) and Amina Mohamed (MBA 2020) watched their EC year turn upside down due to a sudden global lockdown and saw an opportunity for MBA students to get involved and help small businesses stay afloat in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The soon-to-be graduates recognized that many struggling organizations could benefit from those with MBA skills -- marketing, finance, strategy, etc. -- to navigate unprecedented challenges. As they spoke to friends about this, they found hundreds of MBA students eager to help, but who didn’t know where to begin. Seizing this opportunity, they founded “MBAs Fight COVID”, an initiative that matched HBS students with business owners seeking help.

Soon, as the community of service-minded MBAs expanded and grew to include other MBA programs around the world, the leadership team asked themselves: why stop at COVID-19? There are so many small businesses, nonprofits, and organizations that could benefit from pro-bono MBA support and so the organization transformed into “The MBA Response”. Our mission is to connect current MBA students to organizations that wouldn’t otherwise have access to this free support and talent.

Your Opportunity

In joining The MBA Response, you can help small businesses that are truly in need. You have the potential to impact not only the businesses themselves, but also the owners, employees and their families, customers, and communities at large. Through The MBA Response, you can also ​​gain hands-on work experience in sectors and/or functional areas that you are interested in, as you simultaneously grow your network with business leaders and other current MBA students.

As you’re working with HBS Career & Professional Development on mock interviews or resume reviews, consider how involvement with The MBA Response can boost your resume and enable you to be interview ready with powerful stories of helping business owners. You get to pick the project(s) you work on, the timing is flexible, and you can do so from the comfort of your own home / computer. This work experience can be especially valuable as the pandemic continues and some traditional jobs and internships are harder to come by.

Our Impact

Here are some examples of how students like you have made a difference during their time with The MBA Response:

  • Kunal Goel, Annie Hosler (MBA 2021), and Lin Zhang helped Anar Foods manage a social media strategy, and laid the foundation for launching a new frozen-food product line. Anar Foods expressed their gratitude, “This program has been life-altering for me. It's given me much needed help during this pandemic to grow my business. The students who helped me in my business were absolutely amazing!”
  • Kelsey Roberts (MBA 2021) and Mimi Sheng Khan supported Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ) on both short-term COVID-19 response efforts and long-term policy and advocacy strategy. Their work highlighted how COVID-related issues would affect HCZ as a non-profit, and culminated in writing a proposal for an in-house summer program to replace a state funded initiative that was suspended due to COVID-19.

  • John Laydon (MBA 2020), Faith Lyons (MBA 2020), Daniel Ocampo (MBA 2020), Darius Onul, John Poppe (MBA 2020), and Katherine Ranney compiled data from 1,000 counties to help Hikma Health build a COVID-19 policy map to inform policy makers, data scientists, and the public about regional differences in policies. This made it possible to analyze different policies’ effects on COVID-19 outcomes.

The fight to help small businesses survive and thrive continues, as millions of small businesses closed during the pandemic and news sources estimate that 60% of those closures are permanent.