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Global Social Enterprise and Development Fellows Graduate

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The first class of Global Social Enterprise and Development (GSED) Fellows graduated this May. The program is a collaboration between Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business and the School of Foreign Service Global Human Development program.

“The GSED program is a big reason why I chose to come to Georgetown,” said Anne Devine, a member of the graduating class. Reflecting on her time as a fellow she said, “It has given me so much to think about in terms of the role of entrepreneurship in international development. Being able to take classes in the business school as a Global Human Development graduate student has significantly broadened my opportunities after graduation.”

The GSED Fellows program is designed to develop the fellows’ entrepreneurial skills using both coursework and experiential learning, with a focus on ways social enterprises or multinational corporations and institutions can move beyond aid and offer market-based solutions to address base of the pyramid need in developing economies. In addition to taking classes outside their respective programs, the fellows participate in a global innovation lab in which they prototype solutions to global development challenges. Before they graduate, they also must be proficient in a second language, and complete the Global Enterprise Practicum.

Shree Prabhakaran, a graduating MBA student, said the most remarkable project he worked on as a fellow was a social enterprise concept called Shway.

"It is designed to empower women in the textile industry in Lesotho, while also providing high quality, fashionable clothing for Western consumers. Through the fellows program, we were able to pitch this idea to a panel of accomplished professionals who helped us improve its sustainability and scalability.”

“Many people don’t consider working for a private company traditional human development work,” explained Peter Cook, a graduating Global Human Development student. “The reality is that supply chain management in an emerging market, for example, means dealing with development issues. Private corporations contribute to economic growth and job creation in developing countries so private sector skills definitely have a place in development.”

Cook said that prior to becoming a GSED fellow, he had not thought about the role private capital has in development, but he is now thinking differently.
The skills the fellows developed by assessing business proposals and strategies based on social impact will be an asset in their professional careers, especially as the private sector continues to initiate projects with positive social and environmental objectives. Devine described a business venture she started as a GSED Fellows project. It’s called Apps2Analytics (www.apps2analytics.com), and it is an “intuitive data collection and aggregation software for international development organizations. The idea is to make it easier to show outcomes and impact to make donors and organizations more responsive,” said Devine. Monitoring and evaluation was one of the most cumbersome parts of her seven years in international development, and she hopes this service will help reduce the burden on staffers in the field and encourage more donor investment.

Overall, the GSED Fellows felt that being part of a new and growing program was rewarding. Cook summed it up by saying, “The fellows get unprecedented access and the privilege of vetting business ideas to seasoned professionals. It opens so many opportunities for participants to be leaders; it’s electrifying.”