January, 2012

Fall Core Team – We don’t get to pick our teams?!

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Those of you who have already done your bschool research will most likely discover that team work is a big part of any MBA program. And like many of you, when I first realized just how big a part teams were, I groaned.

Having done my research and interviews with current and past business school students, I have heard ALL the stories that need to be told. From the slackers who take advantage of the team to the Type A Personalities that micro manages everyone. The overall advice I was given, just take it like a man (or woman)!

Upon arriving on campus and getting my team assignment, I was extremely nervous. I knew the team would be diverse, not only in terms of background, work experience, and culturally, but also in personality. I was immediately surprised at just how different five people could be from each other. I knew the semester would not be easy, but it is all a learning experience.

We went through every single phase possible for a new team, from forming to the performing phase. We had our moments of great success and we had our moments of extreme stress. We were all very aware of the typical conflicts that could occur and did our best to look at the entire experience positively. We tried our best to take into account each personal goals and priorities and worked around each other’s schedule. We had our tense meetings and we had team meetings where we confided in each other about our concerns and troubles. But through it all, we kept our focus on our goal, of getting through the quarter without killing each other!

Having been through the majority of the quarter with my team, I have to say we did really well. My prior reservations and predictions did not come true and I am truly impressed with how well my team has gotten along with each other. We may not be best friends for life, but I know we definitely learned a lot from each other and have a connection with each other that cannot be broken just because we are in different teams next quarter. Interestingly enough, at the beginning I could not WAIT to get a new team, but as this quarter comes to a close, I will miss each and every single one of my team member. They are all truly exceptional colleagues and I am glad I got the opportunity to work with such amazing individuals.

~Guest Blogger Jessica Ma, Full-Time Class of 2013

Snow Day in Seattle!

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Thought snow days were a thing of the past? Think again!

Last night, UW canceled all normal operations and classes for today, which sent Fosterites celebrating by either finishing a paper or going to a pub! Today, as Seattle was cloaked in white from a rare snow storm, people utilized the impromptu day off with a wide variety of activities. What did some of our students do? Read below to find out!

“I went for a walk around Fremont with my roommates, made quesadillas, and watched some 30 rock!”
- Ben Reid, Full-Time Class of 2013

“Working, walking dogs, then drinking hot toddies!”
- Chris Simons, Full-Time Class of 2013

“Sledding at gasworks park, building a snowman while discussing “stuff MBAs say,” apples-to-apples game, and maybe pancakes with 10-15 other first year MBAs”
- Laura Periano, Full-Time Class of 2013

“Walked down the center of the road to my favorite café for a warm bowl of soup and delicious cup of coffee this morning. Then headed back to my toasty apartment for a 24-a-thon with my fiancé and friend who are stuck up on Queen Anne Hill with me. Plans for homemade soup and a bottle of wine for dinner.”
- Sherry Gardella, Full-Time Class of 2012

“I just woke up” (Emailed at 3 pm)
- Charlie Northrop, Full-Time Class of 2013

“After staying up until 1:30 am finishing a paper, my husband was kind enough to take baby duty and let me sleep in until 9:30 (UNHEARD OF!). We bundled up and walked over to Greenlake to pull the baby around in a little baby sled, which she loved. On the way home, we stopped by Starbucks so I could spend way too much money on my favorite “Christmas Beverage” (venti non-fat white chocolate mocha with 3 pumps of sugar free peppermint). I then had a conference call with my team to discuss our Applied Strategy consulting project. Hopefully I can hammer out tomorrow’s assignments in the next couple hours, and then go to a classmate’s house for hot toddies and board games.”
- Mandi Chappell, Full-Time Class of 2013

“After waking up at 11 am (late!) I had a couple hours of guilt, and decided to be productive. Then, decided that was dumb, and since then have been drinking wine and watching classic movies while I wait for my significant other to stop being a productive member of society and come home so we can hike through the snow to dinner. I also booked flights to warm places (nothing motivates like a 25 degree, snowy day).”
- Carly Massey, Full-Time Class of 2012

“I celebrated at the pub last night with the news, but then am taking advantage of a free day and doing homework and looking for jobs. Wish it was more exciting than that!”
- Emily Shubin, Full-Time Class of 2012

“Slept in (yay! no 8:30 class!) then caught up on ‘Castle’ via Hulu while having oatmeal with a cup of tea. Walked around Greenlake (now “Whitelake”?) to meet a friend for some decadent hot chocolate at Chocolati.”
- Gwyn Gaubatz, Full-Time Class of 2012

“Watching the two best soccer teams in the world, Real Madrid v Barca, at the George and Dragon with 15 MBAs, followed by an epic 15 minute snowball fight in Fremont – only a few casualities.”
- Colin Beazley, Full-Time class of 2012

The Foster Cup

Monday, January 16th, 2012

The Foster Cup is a cross-class competition aimed to build camaraderie amongst MBA students. The idea was created by former 2011 class president, Raja Das, who despite not being very athletic, found an outlet for his real skill which is talking smack. This smack talking turned into cross-class football game in the fall of 2010. The football game was such a success, that a year-long multi-sport competition, now known as the Foster Cup was born. The first annual Foster Cup was made up of both athletic and non-athletic events, ranging from football and softball, to chess and foosball. The 10 event competition wasn’t decided until the final event, when Scott Heinz made a fade-away three pointer to win the basketball game and bring home the Foster Cup to the class of 2012.

As business school students like to do, we decided to tinker with the format of this year’s Foster Cup to try and make it even better. The 2nd annual Cup is designed to further promote participation from all members of the class, not just the athletic types. So far the plan has worked, proven by the 125 people who participated in the Green Lake Fun Run event, more than doubling the total from last year. The current standings for this Foster Cup has the 2013 class in the lead with 2 points by winning the Fun Run and Huddle Games, compared to the 2012 class who has 1 point for winning the Football game. Events on the calendar for later in the year include basketball, soccer, Chinese Downhill ski race, bicycling, hiking and of course Scott Heinz will defend his foosball championship from last year.

~Guest Blogger Adam Hitch, Full-Time Class of 2012

The Board Fellows Program

Monday, January 16th, 2012

As actors performed the play Robin Hood at the Seattle Children’s Theatre, I stepped backstage, watching the performers change costumes and prepare to step back out in front of the curtain. This backstage tour was part of my orientation to the Board of Directors. As this year’s Board Fellow for the Seattle Children’s Theatre I’ve had some unique opportunities to see the inner workings of the theatre and gain insights into the world of nonprofit boards.

I applied last spring to be a Board Fellow because of my interest in serving as a nonprofit board member after graduation. During college I studied drama and continue to be interested in the local arts community, so I sought out theatre and arts boards from the list of potential Board Fellows positions. After interviewing with a couple organizations I was happily matched with the Seattle Children’s Theatre.

In addition to attending regular board meetings I am also participating in the Development Committee. This involvement allows me to utilize my marketing background to brainstorm strategies aimed at bringing new patrons to the theatre.

As a Board Fellow, we are supported with a bi-quarterly workshop. The workshop introduces information on the various board structures and common challenges for nonprofit boards. As a part of the program we will use the information presented in the workshops to compile a research paper for our organization based on the organization’s needs and challenge areas we identify.

Overall, I am enjoying my involvement in the Boards Fellows program. I love the Seattle Children’s Theatre and am happy I can contribute my knowledge to help the organization. I am also enjoying the unique opportunity to “preview” what it means to be a nonprofit board member.

~Guest Blogger Sherry Gardella, Full-Time Class of 2012

Does it get easier? Five stories from 2nd Years

Monday, January 16th, 2012

The myth of business school is that life gets easier in your second year. While life may not necessarily get easier, it definitely changes, mostly for the better. Below are 5 stories highlighting life as a second year in the full-time Foster MBA program.

The Full Foster Experience
By Guest Blogger Jenny Brackett, Full-Time Class of 2012. Jenny is an MBA/MHA candidate focused on operations and project management. She currently serves as an intern for the UW Medical Center Planning & Referral Department and as a board fellow for Group Health Foundation. She is also vice president of the Biotech & Healthcare Club. Prior to graduate school, Jenny worked in public relations and marketing for clients including Swedish Medical Center, the Allen Institute for Brain Science and Intel Corporation, among others. She is originally from Whidbey Island and is a double-Husky completing Bachelors of Arts degrees in communication and psychology from University of Washington in 2005.

As a second year full-time MBA student, I have pretty much loaded my schedule with as many activities as possible, and I am enjoying every minute of it. When I look back on my first year, while I was incredibly busy with constant deliverables in each class and part-time work, I still felt as if I could have done more. This year, I’m pushing myself to experience all that the Foster MBA experience has to offer.

Classes are obviously priority one. Since I am also in the MHA program (Master of Health Administration), I am taking 18 credits every quarter. My schedule this winter includes five classes, three of which are at Foster and two are in the School of Public Health. The two buildings are literally as far away on campus as possible so I spend a fair amount of time trekking across campus. Some days it’s cold and tiring when I’m feeling lazy, but the views on campus are amazing, and I’m trying to soak up the scenery as much as possible. It’s also built-in exercise which is an added bonus.

Part of my time is spent in my internship in the UW Medical Center Planning and Referral Development department. I am able to fit about 18 hours each week, but I do have to take a night class to open up enough work hours in the day. This is fine since many electives are offered at night, and second years typically take at least one night class. One quarter I also served as a grader for an evening MBA course. It was possible to juggle this, but I definitely went a little overboard.

Besides this, I fill spare moments with activities for the Biotech & Healthcare Club, Operations Club and Leadership Fellows. I also serve as a Board Fellow for Group Health Foundation, so I attend board and committee meetings every few weeks. And as every Foster MBA does, I make sure to log my C4C volunteer hours. It’s not all work though. I definitely make time for fun at TGs and occasional Pub Club. It’s a great opportunity to unplug and socialize.

In your second year, every day is a little different, and everyone’s schedules are different from one another’s. We are all busy but we’ve each customized how we want to spend our time. For me, the busier, the better. It’s only going to happen once, might as well enjoy it.

Get Out What You Put In
By Guest Blogger Sita Dontharaju, Full-Time Class of 2012. Sita is originally from India, studied metallurgical engineering, worked as a software engineer for 4 years and finally found her passion in business. She is passionate about technology and interested in the tech industry for a career. She looks forward to achieving her goals while giving back to Foster.

Here I am, successfully completed one year and one quarter of my MBA and calling myself a second year student! Sounds like a privilege!

First year was busy, as you can read the posts on this blog, and particularly for me there was a lot of getting accustomed. However, second year has been another life changing experience. Having been acclimatized to Seattle, Foster and having finished most core courses, time had come to make decisions that directly affected my career. The challenges I had were diverse – internship that continued as a part-time job through the quarter, a teaching assistantship, club activities, great courses taught by the best professors and most importantly – hunt for the perfect job!

There was a lot of working smart with lot of planning than simply working hard. I always had a schedule and tried my best to do justice to it. There were definitely times when I was not able to stay on top of all the activities due to the busy schedule and conflicting priorities. And then I learnt, it is not always possible to achieve 100% of the goals but giving your 100% is more important. And that gave me a very positive outlook.

The club activities, the TGs and the campus events were always a welcome break from school work. The part-time job was great in its exposure to real-life problems and challenges and gave further motivation to learn more at school. The great faculty made the case studies an amazing experience. And putting all these together, mixed with the great Foster spirit made the dream job a reality.

And the most valuable assets are the bonds with classmates, the connections with the faculty and career coaches and the interactions with the Foster community. I learnt more from the great people around me than I did ever before, which is also the most unique part of my second year. The challenges and the rewards make the second year of MBA unique. Second year offers more challenges, and demands more conscious, calculated and relentless effort. At the same time rewards you with great camaraderie, precious moments and the will to achieve great heights!

And then I remember, during the orientation the dean said – “You will get from the MBA program as much as you put into it”! It’s so true. And second year is when you put in the most, knowing what you want!

It won’t be long before I miss being a second year!

What Happens when you say “Yes” to Extending your Internship
By Guest Blogger Andrew Roberts, Full-Time Class of 2012. Andrew is a Seattle local with an undergraduate degree in Economics from UW. His background in non-profit organizations and startups, but he finds himself in a lot of finance and strategy courses these days. He is looking to a career in consulting post-grad. When not over-scheduling himself with class and work obligations, he aspires to work-life balance with Crossfit, hiking, photography, and travel.

Who knows what I was thinking… I had survived year one of my MBA in good health and good spirits. I spent my summer dedicated to my work as an intern at Intellectual Ventures. Come fall quarter, by some strange luck and careful bidding, I had managed to squeeze 16 credits of core and electives into just two class days and two nights. When September came around, my efforts at IV had made an impression and they asked if I could stay on. A glance at my calendar showed three days a week completely free of school obligations. “I’d love to – looks like I can manage 20 hours or so…”
Now a taste of what *actually* happened:

Monday – Work Day
In the office by 8:30am, out by 6pm. I hate the commute to the Eastside. I like the free coffee and bagels at IV. Did I forget to eat lunch?
Finance team meeting to review case deliverable from 7pm to 8pm. Might get around to reading for Ethics afterwards…

Tuesday – Class Day
Ethics didn’t have a chance last night, so it’s Starbucks @ 8:30am to caffeinate, eat, and read up for class @ 10:30.
Lunchtime Meet the Firm for Deloitte Consulting, but I’m so sick of Vietnamese sandwiches I’ll have to forage elsewhere for food.
After lunch, it’s Finance with Jennifer Koski. I love the cold calls (no really, I do!). Then, another meeting with the Finance team to prep for next class. I’m so glad we have an accountant on our team…
Duck out of the meeting early at 5pm to catch an overview of the Study Tours this year. Brazil is going to be amazing…
Barely time to grab Coke before I’m off to my night class – Entrepreneurial Strategy with Darius Sankey, who happens to also be a colleague at IV.
9:30pm and I’m finally on my way home on the bus. I read what I can for Direct Marketing the next day, but 13 hours straight has taken it out of me.

Wednesday – Work Day, With Class…
Work from 8:30 onward. Thank God for coffee. I have every intention of leaving by 5pm to make my evening class with Elizabeth Stearns
I get held up by some important conversations and held up even more by terrible traffic. I’m late to class… Again. It’s becoming a running joke – I’ve been threatened with impromptu karaoke in front of the class if I’m late again. I don’t know how the Evening students do it.
Finally homeward bound at 9:30pm.

Thursday – Class Day
Today resembles Tuesday, except it is Alvarez & Marsal instead of Deloitte at lunch. I really like this company and they’ve got offices in California as well… Have to keep that in mind when the recruiter comes a calling.
I still have a Finance meeting in the afternoon, and another with my Entrepreneurial Strategy team after. No night class and I still don’t get off campus until 8:30pm.

Friday – Work Day
What is the lethal dose for caffeine? I feel as though I’m getting close… Work runs late (or maybe I don’t know when to quit), but I’m determined to make it back to campus for the Halloween TG. This year I’ll be going as the beleaguered grad student. Save some beer for me!

Saturday & Sunday – Weekend, sort off…
Finally a break! Wait… Actually, I have no free time during the week, so it’s a Direct Marketing team meeting all afternoon. Both days. These folks have been incredibly understanding of my work commitments – I couldn’t do it without their support.
It’s a pathetic thrill that I actually have time to go to the grocery store and do laundry before it’s time to get things together and prep for the coming week!

Week Summary
Hours on Campus: 30
Hours in Off-Campus Team Meetings: 8
Hours at Work: 26
Cups of Coffee Consumed: Too Many
Number of Meals and Hours of Sleep: Not Enough
Sense of Accomplishment: Off the Charts

FT MBA Second Year = Your Year
By Guest Blogger Saurabh Modh, Full-Time Class of 2012. Saurabh is originally from Ahmedabad (India) and is a second year MBA student at the Foster School of Business. He is focused on Marketing and Finance and is currently exploring opportunities within the technology industry in Seattle and the Bay Area. He is also involved in the MBAA (VP of IT) and holds a leadership role in the Foster Business Technology Club.

The title of this post is representative of what the second year of a Foster full-time MBA student can be. It allows a lot of flexibility with respect to choosing your classes, your projects, your part-time work, clubs, etc. Having said that, it does not mean that it is less hectic than any other quarter of the MBA program. Well of course, except the first quarter. I will describe how a typical day in my second year of MBA goes by. Let me start with Tuesday.

As soon as I get up on Tuesday, I know it is going to be one of the most hectic days of the week. I have a Consumer Marketing and Brand Management class at 10:30am. This class is usually followed by an MBAA meeting or a meet-the-firm event or a club event from 12:30 pm to 1:20 pm. As soon as it is 1:15 pm, I realize I have to go to a new venture intern meeting at 1:30 pm. This meeting is part of a CIE project that I along with three other MBAs are doing with a start-up located in the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle. After finishing the meeting by around 3:00 pm, I get a good 30 minutes break before I go for my Macroeconomics class at 3:30 pm. Once the Macro class is done, I have another 30 minutes break before I go to my last class of the day – the Business to Business Marketing class from 6:00 pm to 9:30 pm. At 9:15 pm, I keep thinking of the queen size bed in my apartment and how I will go sleep on it once I am done with the class. But no, depending on the week, I might have to finish a case before an early morning class on Wednesday. This is how my Tuesday goes. Did I scare you? The good news is that the rest of the week is not as overwhelming. I have only one class on Mondays and Wednesdays. And so, on those days, I usually search for jobs, apply for them, do informational interviews and participate in club activities. Of course Thursday is the most happiest day since the weekend is right around the corner.

So yes, second year schedule can be designed and manufactured as per your requirements. And it is a lot of fun to decide which classes to take, which events to attend and which club activities to participate in. I would say MBA second year gives you a great chance to build your character and personality.

Know When to Say No
By Carly Massey, Full-Time Class of 2012. Carly graduated from Williams College having majored in Psychology & English. She moved from Boston for Foster’s MBA program and has studied general management over the last 5 quarters. She just received and accepted a full-time position in Liberty Mutual’s Corporate Development Program and will be returning to Boston upon graduation.

Second year can tailored however you want. Two small nuggets of wisdom: everything will take more of your time than you think, and know when to say no. I did not understand either of those things, and as a result have found myself scrambling around this second year as I juggle all my responsibilities. Don’t get me wrong, I love everything I do and wouldn’t give up a single piece of my involvement. But if I had known, I may have used the word “no” more often last year when signing up for everything. A typical day of mine goes like this:

9:00 am – Team meeting to go over a presentation for our 10:30 class. I missed all the team meetings this weekend as I was out of town, but am quickly brought up to speed and ready to lead the presentation.
9:30 am – I am one of the Challenge for Charity auction co-chairs and need to start coordinating the night of volunteer activities since the auction is less than a month away! I meet with my co-chair and the person we delegated this task to in order to explain the process, go through the time line, and assign people duties. We still have so much to do with the auction!
10:30 am – Brand Management class. Each team has done a Visual Identity Exercise with Benaroya Hall. Now, we get to present our ideas to two people from the actual marketing agency with this task. Everyone has great ideas – it’s awesome to see so much creativity!
12:30 pm – The MBA Association hosts a meeting for club presidents and first-year representatives to go over club goals and succession planning. As president of the Women in Business Club, my first-year rep and I must attend. It’s a great meeting and we come up with some really good ways to improve WiB going forward. They also serve food, which is necessary.
1:30 pm – As a Leadership Fellow, one of my tasks is to meet with my first year team members in a one-on-one capacity. I meet one of my team members in a coffee shop and we chat about the internship process, what second year is like, etc. It’s a great conversation – I’m so glad I get to interact with first years this way!
2:30 pm – I haven’t checked my email in several hours so I spend an hour going through my 30 unread emails. I also check the Student Ambassador email inbox to ensure I didn’t forget to schedule a class visit or anything.
3:30 pm – Macroecon class. Today we discuss what the effects of extending or expiring the Bush era tax cuts are. Despite being a class of 100+, the conversation flows well.
5:30 pm – Time to head home! Once home, I check email again, do my reading for class the next day, and check facebook to see if I’ve missed any news.
8:30 pm – Done with school work for the day. I put away my computer, cook dinner, watch a couple episodes of “How I Met Your Mother” and go to bed around 11. I love being as involved as I am in Foster – that’s why I wanted a smaller program. And it’s days like these that I go to bed feeling accomplished and happy! Tomorrow I have less on my plate, so I’ll make sure to go to the gym and go to lunch with friends. Even when I am running around, I can’t forget to take care of myself mentally and physically.

Global Consulting Trip – Hariyali Highlights

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Hariyali – Green Energy Initiative
The Hariyali Project is aimed at distributing 200,000 solar lanterns and energy efficient cookstoves in the Indian state of Gujarat. Once the lanterns and stoves are distributed, we are providing recommendations on how to measure their social impact on improving livelihoods. We are also providing some recommendations for how to go about selling carbon credits for the reduced CO2 emissions that the lanterns and stoves provide. This money will be returned to the users who integrate these products into their daily lives and could eventually cover the entire cost of the new equipment.

December 12, 2011

This morning we awoke to the news that, in spite of the rifts among participants, an agreement was reached at the UN Climate Summit in Durban to extend the Kyoto Protocol. This is significant for us as a portion of our project revolves around the employment of carbon trading schemes to provide benefits to those who chose to purchase the solar lanterns and efficient stoves that are the centerpiece of Hariyali.

The clean cook stove pictured here can transform the lives of rural families by providing a cleaner cooking experience, allowing the women to use the time they would normally spend gathering wood and cooking working to make money, and provide money back to the families through carbon credits.

Today we spent our first day at SEWA HQ. Arriving shortly after 11AM we made introductions and were treated to a presentation on SEWA’s ongoing efforts in India and internationally. We were treated to lunch and Chai before moving downstairs to formally meet our contacts in the Hariyali group for the first time in person. We then sat down to ask questions to the group head, Anurag. And we had plenty. A man with an impressive resume, he spent time as an expat in the Middle East and Europe working in asset management before returning to India. He made his expectations of us clear as we continued to discuss the project until 6PM at which time we retired to the hotel. One thing is clear, for the next week we have our work cut out for us.

December 20, 2011 – Desolation in the Desert

If you think cooking dinner too difficult so you order takeout, consider yourself lucky. If you find yourself complaining about the size of your house or apartment, bite your tongue. When you feel yourself complaining about the monotony or challenges of your job, stop. If you think your life is tough, chances are, it is not. Today our eyes were opened…

Desolation is the word that best describes today’s excursion. We set out early in the morning on our way to the salt flats near the southern edge of the Little Kutch desert. Roughly three hours into the drive we found ourselves on an increasingly rough road leading into the desert. Soon the vegetation cleared and there was nothing but brown dirt as far as the eye could see. Making our way across the dirt we arrived at a small makeshift straw hut near a series of rectangular pools; here was a salt farm. We found it hard to believe that we’d actually find humans inhabiting this place. While they maintain their permanent residences in a nearby village, they spend up to 8 months each year living in the searing heat of the salt flats.

We toured the farm and learned about the difficult lives these people lead. The monsoon season strikes during the summer months, submerging the flats in up to eight feet of water before receding in the fall. The months of October through May are the salt harvesting months. Even though it’s no longer summer, the heat out on the flats is tangible. In order to produce their product the farmers must first dig wells over thirty feet deep, taking 3-4 days for each well. Many times, they’ll dig and will come up dry, wasting those days and starting over in another spot. When they find water, the salinity is four to six times greater than that of seawater. The water is then pumped and channeled into a series of evaporative pools where it is tended to on a daily basis until crystalized. Assuming the quality is sufficient it is then harvested.

Returning to the focus of our project we took a look within the family’s small hut. As was expected, the cooking apparatus resembled the three-stone stove we’ve seen so many other places. The family stated that they burn roughly 80 kg’s of wood each week, which is consistent with data we’ve gathered elsewhere. Here however, the wife must travel 1.5-2.0 km on foot, twice a week, in order to reach a source of firewood. This source is steadily becoming less reliable. She must then make the trip home carrying 40 kg’s of wood ON her head. One thing is clear; these people live very difficult lives and their efforts go under-rewarded. If something so simple as a solar light or an efficient cook stove can make a real impact on their ability to live a better life, we can only hope that our efforts with SEWA can help facilitate this.

Global Consulting Project in India

Monday, January 9th, 2012

There are 16 Foster students enrolled in the Global Consulting class and that just completed a 2-week trip to India to conduct site visits with their clients. There are four teams working on the different projects and all four projects are working with SEWA – the Self-Employed Women’s Association.

At the Taj

Harialyi Project, which is aimed at distributing 200,000 solar lanterns and energy efficient cookstoves in the Indian state of Gujarat. Once the lanterns and stoves are distributed, members are providing recommendations on how to measure the social impact (call it a Social ROI) of the improved livilihoods. The team is also providing some recommendations for how to go about selling carbon credits for the reduced CO2 emissions that the lanterns and stoves provide. This money will be returned to the users who integrate these products into their daily lives and could eventually cover the entire cost of the new equipment.

Team Ni is working with the SEWA Manager Ni School (SMS) which is a unit of SEWA that serves as a managerial capacity building institution that facilitates economic self-sustainability by developing a cadre of grassroots managers. SEWA Manager Ni School has facilitated development of 50 community-learning centers (CLC) across Gujarat. These centers cater to the training and economic needs of the village community members from the surrounding 15 to 20 villages. These centers also function as an information hub for the community members. Specifically team members are focusing on two areas: 1) creating a business plan for the establishment and ultimate self-sufficiency of a cantina at an identified SEWA CLC and 2) creating a business plan for the implementation and ultimate self-sufficiency of a community radio.

The RUDI team are working to create an operational framework for going into new districts and improving operations in currently under-performing districts. RUDI is the retail distribution network for SEWA’s agribusiness unit. They are looking to increase sales significantly in the next 5 years, but based on our visits to villages while in India, there are many differences in how the different districts operate. We will be looking at Castor Seed procurement and RUDI brand food processing and sales for comparative analysis between the districts. These recommendations will help with overall goals of increasing self-sufficiency and increasing the number of villages benefiting from quality RUDI products.

The STFC (SEWA Trade Facilitation Center) team is working to create a collective marketing plan for the handicrafts brand SABAH, which is the international extension of SEWA’s Indian handicraft brand, Hansiba. SABAH is a nascent brand that includes handicraft work from Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. The team will be providing recommendations on how to position this new brand within the Mumbai retail store and throughout India. They will also be working on creating tools for SEWA managers and artisans to more effectively promote the brand and approach pricing their products. These recommendations will help to grow the SABAH brand with the overall goal of creating more employment opportunities for women both within India and in the greater region.

More information about this amazing experience will be posted in upcoming weeks.