Harvard Business School » Social Enterprise » Blog » Tackling food waste in Brazil: SE Summer Fellow Tatiana Novaes Theoto (MBA 2024)
Impact Insights

Tackling food waste in Brazil: SE Summer Fellow Tatiana Novaes Theoto (MBA 2024)

By: Tatiana Theoto 02 Aug 2023

The HBS Summer Fellows Program enables students to apply their classroom training as they explore career opportunities in roles or regions where compensation is generally lower than the traditional MBA level. This summer, we are connecting with some of our 75 Social Enterprise Summer Fellows, who are working around the world to develop skills and knowledge while having significant responsibility and high impact.

What are you working on this summer?

This summer, I have the privilege of working on an exciting internship that aligns with my passion for sustainability and business integration. I am collaborating with Infineat, a fast-growing NGO focused on tackling food waste and solving Brazil’s pervasive hunger problem. Their operating model (coined “philantech”) combines philanthropy and technology to efficiently manage food surplus in supermarkets and provide nutritious meals to those in need. From 2021 to June 2023, they have completed an impressive 3 million meals, averting wastage of over 1,700 tons of food. I am collaborating closely with the CEO/founder, focusing on scaling up their financial processes, communicating their impact metrics, exploring additional income sources (e.g., carbon credits), and talking to potential donors to support their planned 10x growth over the next five years.

Why did you choose this internship for the summer?

I chose this internship with Infineat because it provides me with valuable insights into the daily lives and challenges of founders and CEOs in the non-profit sector. As someone passionate about sustainability and business integration, I wanted to go beyond considering it merely as a cost line and understand how it can be incorporated into functional business models. Working directly with a purpose-driven organization like Infineat offers a different perspective than my previous corporate experience with Fortune 500 clients at the Boston Consulting Group. I saw this internship as an opportunity to learn, contribute, and make a meaningful difference in the fight against food waste and its environmental consequences.

What are your goals for this summer?

My goals for this summer encompass both career development and impact creation. From a career perspective, I aim to gain hands-on experience with smaller companies, broaden my skillset and develop a well-rounded understanding of entrepreneurship and leadership in the social space. In terms of impact, I aspire to contribute to scaling up Infineat's processes successfully and create systemic change in Brazil, one of the most unequal countries in the world.

How has your MBA skillset prepared you for this role?

My MBA skillset has prepared me for this role in several ways. Firstly, effective communication skills, honed through the case method, have allowed me to clearly convey complex ideas and strategies. Secondly, my understanding of the Economic, Ethical, and Legal Lenses (thanks, Leadership and Corporate Accountability (LCA)!) has been instrumental in supporting the CEO’s responsibilities and evaluating business decisions from multiple perspectives. Additionally, studying the triple bottom line approach from the Financial Reporting and Control (FRC) class has equipped me to assess a company's performance based on its financial, social, and environmental impacts. These tools and concepts have provided me with valuable insights and analytical frameworks that I can apply effectively in this role.

How has the summer influenced your thinking on future involvement in social enterprise?

This summer has had a profound impact on my thinking regarding future involvement in social enterprise. It has reinforced my passion for entrepreneurship in the social space, despite the challenges involved. Witnessing firsthand the struggles and triumphs of purpose-driven organizations has fueled my determination to pursue ventures that create positive social and environmental impact. Moreover, the internship has expanded my network in Brazil, connecting me with potential sources of capital and influential thought leaders in the sustainability space. I even started my own podcast to highlight their work! This experience has solidified my commitment to making a meaningful difference through entrepreneurship and social enterprise.

How can someone learn more about your organization?

Certainly! You can visit their website at https://www.infineat.com.br/ to explore their mission, initiatives, and the technology platform they have developed. You can also follow them on Instagram at @Infineatbrasil for regular updates and insights.