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Every year, SEID fosters productive collaborations between MIT Sloan students and new ventures in emerging markets as part of our action learning projects. Teams of 3-4 MBA students spend the fall semester working with these organizations to solve important str
ategic challenges they are facing. In the spirit of the MIT motto, Mens et Manus, MBA students get an amazing opportunity to apply the theories from the classroom to have real impact on the ground.
This year, SEID has organized 8 projects for MBA students to immerse themselves in. Each project is an entrepreneurial venture with operations on the ground in a developing country. Our projects are spread throughout the world in Tanzania, Iraq, Ghana, India, Liberia and Nicaragua and cut across a whole range of industries.
Amend develops, implements, evaluates, and brings to scale evidence-based public health programs to reduce the incidence of child road traffic injury in the developing world. Road traffic injury is the leading cause of death for children ages 5 and over in Africa. Poor infrastructure, spotty law enforcement, bad vehicle maintenance, and ineadquate education, along with other factors, make Africa the continent with the world’s highest rate of road traffic injury. Research shows that over 4% of children in urban Africa are injured in road traffic in any given year. With operations in Ghana and Tanzania, Amend’s “See and Be Seen” program combines a variety of interventions to reduce the incidence of child road traffic injury in Africa. One of Amend’s interventions is the promotion of reflector use; the use of reflectors and other visibility-enhancing measures (“conspicuity enhancement” in the terminology) has been proven to reduce injury.
Over the last several years, Amend has developed a reflector-enhanced schoolbag made expressly for the African market. The bags are designed to be affordable, durable, and, of course, provide conspicuity enhancement qualities to help keep children safe as they walk by the road. As our goal is to reach as many at-risk children as possible with our schoolbags, simply giving them away is not sustainable. Most children in urban Africa, even ones from poor families, already use schoolbags of some sort; in other words, parents are already buying bags for their children. So Amend uses social marketing techniques to distribute and sell the schoolbags. Amend’s competitive advantages in the schoolbag market are as follows: they can lose money on the bags in the short term; their long term aim is to be financially self-sustainable; various services (design, advertising, marketing, business advice) are provided pro bono; and the quality of the bags is significantly higher than most other bags of a similar, or higher, price in the marketplace.