The HBS Summer Fellowship Program provides an opportunity for students to develop skills and knowledge while having significant responsibility and high impact. This summer, HBS is supporting a record 162 Social Enterprise Summer Fellows, with many organizations and projects focused on COVID-19 response. The Social Enterprise Initiative connected with some of the fellows to hear more about their work this summer and going forward.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON THIS SUMMER?
Christine Keung and Reggie Smith (MBA 2020), Small Business Administration: The SBA is on the front lines of distributing the $649B in stimulus funds to small businesses. We are targeting these funds to underserved communities and critical supply chains.
Justin Crist Lee (MBA 2021), Lucas Santos (MBA 2022) and Truc Nguyen (MBA 2021), Founders, LivelyHood: Our student-run COVID-relief nonprofit connects volunteers with requests for essential deliveries of food and medicine in their local community. We are on a mission is to efficiently allocate resources to at-risk and underserved communities with the power of technology.
Laurens De Poorter (MBA 2020), Co-Founder, Bloomup: Our team is building a new platform in Belgium that facilitates video consultations with mental health professionals. With its general access and minimal click approach, Bloomup is the low-barrier solution for all concerns, especially those due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Peter Le (MBA 2020), Urbanic: Urbanic is an import-export apparel startup, which has pivoted to deliver PPEs globally to places that need the most.
Prerna Arya (MBA 2021), Swasth: Swasth is a nonprofit initiative that aims to democratize access to quality, affordable, primary care for any citizen in India, leveraging digital technology and ensuring interoperability. The initial focus of this coalition is to build an effective 360-degree COVID care solution including tele-consultation and home quarantine facilities.
Raquel Schreiber (MBA 2021), Founder, Community V COVID-19: Community V COVID-19 empowers everyone to get help, give help, and donate effectively. Driven by volunteers, we aggregate high-quality support resources, use targeted digital advertising to get the right resources to the right people, and build solutions for communities when one doesn’t already exist. Raquel and HBS sectionmate Brendan Lind launched in March to fill immediate gaps and provide searchable, findable information amidst the noise. This project will evolve as the second order impacts of the pandemic evolve.
Scott Cara (MBA 2021), Sarika Mendu (HBS 2020), and Narmeen Haider (HBS 2020), Co-founder, MBAs Fight COVID: Our team is mobilizing MBA students in service toward creating a better future. We are leveraging student volunteers to help organizations making a positive difference in the world tackle their most pressing issues.
Thomaz Galvao (MBA 2021), State Government of Sao Paulo: I am working directly with the COVID Crisis management team responsible for assisting the State of São Paulo during the COVID crisis.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE SUMMER?
Scott Cara: We are testing the viability of making service a central pillar of the MBA experience. We want to see if the outburst of volunteerism from COVID-19 can be harnessed into continued service for a post-COVID world.
Peter Le: Understand how global supply chain works and what are the potential drivers and hurdles for efficient global supply chain systems.
Prerna Arya: Through this internship, I hope to learn more about health-tech, how an affordable health-tech solution can be built for the masses in India, and how 200+ volunteers from different firms (largely competitors) can come together to seamlessly work together in order to positively impact the society.
HOW HAS YOUR MBA SKILLSET PREPARED YOU TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN THIS ROLE?
Christine Keung: Responding to the pandemic for business is really thinking through all the management issues we discussed and learned about in class the last couple years. First, we need to consider all the stakeholders involved and develop practical solutions to satisfy each one. It is an economic development challenge that requires owners, customers, employees, lenders, governments, and nonprofits all coordinating their efforts to rebuild the economy. The MBA gave me the knowledge to think circumspectly about all these stakeholders and the skills to manage people and outside organizations effectively to connect stakeholders to the resources they need.
Justin Crist Lee: The most useful skill is entrepreneurial problem solving, and the toolkit to build something from scratch. From there, other coursework, such as operations, finance, marketing, and strategy, have given me a foundation to being to develop our work in each area.
Laurens De Poorter: Strategy, finance, and marketing classes are helping me to think about all-round business case and value proposition. Yet, I feel the most valuable courses to be a CEO of a large team (currently 10) were definitely Field Foundations, the first-year LEAD course, and Authentic Leadership Development. I am solving team issues, giving feedback, and motivating people on a day to day basis!
HOW HAS THE SUMMER INFLUENCED YOUR THINKING ON FUTURE INVOLVEMENT IN SOCIAL ENTERPRISE?
Prerna Arya: I have worked in social enterprise before and I would love to work in the social sector in the future. Being able to see the impact my work is creating on people on a day-to-day basis helps keep me motivated and pushes me to do better than I did the previous day.
Christine Keung: As an HBS Leadership Fellow serving as the Technology and Innovation Advisor for the City of San Jose, my summer working on the front lines of this crisis has only reinforced my passion and commitment to closing inequity gaps and improving access in my home state of California. My parents were small business owners - so I know how important access to capital is to immigrants who become entrepreneurs in order to better the lives of their children. It has been a privilege to improve access to the Paycheck Protection Program, to serve the public sector so early in my career, and to impact an issue so close to my heart.
Raquel Schreiber: Engaging with critical problems involves understanding the larger systems at play, the current gaps in solutions, and the difference between solutions that fill gaps and solutions that change systems. By leveraging Community V COVID-19 to amplify solutions that are filling gaps, I've been able to do great legwork to better understanding the systems that need to be re-considered. It's helping me frame my longer-term thinking about key resource allocation of food, internet, healthcare, and more.
Thomaz Galvao: I still do want to get back to Brazil and work in the public sector. In the first month I was able to perceive the potential impact that my role can bring to my State.
Reggie Smith: It's reminded me how much I love to have meaning in the work I'm doing in terms of impacting the world and the people who need help the most. The internship made me even more committed to the mission of using business and social enterprise to uplift the poor communities in our country.