Institute for Business in the Global Context

Where the World of Business Meets the World

Tag: Entrepreneurship (page 1 of 2)

MIB Alumni Nathan Cohen-Fournier (MIB’ 17): The Place I Call Home

Not every MIB journey is the same. Alumni wind up at major consulting firms, multinational corporations, international organizations, foundations, governments, and everything beyond and in between. One of the more unique journeys belongs to Nathan Cohen-Fournier (MIB ’17). Building on his work as part of the Global Research Fellowship, Nathan took a job in the remote region of Nunavik, in the northern reaches of Quebec. There he works as the Socio-Economic Development Officer for Makivik Corporation. Part of his charge there? The design and implementation of a youth entrepreneurial strategy in Nunavik — exactly what his research through IBGC looked at in the first place.

Not everyone comes to Fletcher looking to promote entrepreneurship deep in the tundra, but with the skills you’ll learn on campus, a healthy dose of passion, and a lot of hard work, the MIB can take you to places you never even knew you wanted to go.

Learn more about Nathan, his journey to Nunavik, and the exciting work he is doing.


On May 30, 2016, I discovered Nunavik for the very first time.

Two years later, as I write from Kuujjuaq [the Great River], my gaze is drawn to the outdoors. My mind wanders through the stillness and along the gentle curves of the tundra. Truth be told, I did not expect to live in the North, where delicate snowflakes and wandering ice sheets fill the landscape with a silent beauty. Even as June approaches and cherry blossoms have long faded in other parts of the world, Nunavik awakes slowly from the long winter.

What brought me back here?

When the opportunity presented itself to take up a position in Kuujjuaq, I naively thought that getting away from the concrete jungle could help me find peace. I thought that, in a remote community, the pace would slow down and that I’d be able to touch the essence of life in a more authentic, simple way. Don’t get me wrong, I love cities. The unique amalgam of colours, scents and noises. The chaotic embrace of a bustling street market. The sweet taste of anonymity. I was looking for something different, a place where I would be more vulnerable.

Read the full post from Nathan on his blog

“Entrepreneurship in Nunavik – A Credible Alternative?” by Nathan Cohen-Fournier (MIB ’17)

by Nathan Cohen-Fournier (MIB ’17)

The Arctic, once inaccessible, today offers itself to an interconnected world and thirsty for resources. As melting ice reaches record levels, governments and multinationals are wondering how to take advantage of this region, which is full of oil, natural gas, and minerals. In Québec, the implementation of the Plan Nord is an example of this, with more than $ 50 billion invested over 25 years. Despite growing international attention, northern communities aspire to develop their markets independently. More and more Nunavimmiut – Nunavik residents – are turning to entrepreneurial approaches. During my research during the summer of 2016, I sought to understand the prospects for entrepreneurship in Nunavik.

Read Nathan’s full op-ed in The Huffington Post

Menghan Li, ComeOnGirls, Win 2017 Fletcher D-Prize

Menghan Li (F18) first realized she wanted to fight poverty while she was working with rural children. These children had been abandoned, not only because their parents needed to find employment, but also because they were female. “I started to think about how a special group of people — rural girls — suffer from dual disadvantages from the society —  one from their background, the other from their gender,” Li recalls.

When she heard about The Fletcher School and The Institute for Business in the Global Context’s (IBGC) partnership with D-Prize, which awards up to $20,000 to fund new ventures that fight poverty in Africa, Asia or other developing regions, Li knew what her project would be: women’s education. Li won over the judges with her ComeOnGirls scholarship platform, and was recently announced as the 2017 Fletcher D-Prize winner.

Menghan Li (middle) receives the Fletcher D-Prize award from (left to right) Dean James Stavridis, Dorothy Orszulak, Bhaskar Chakravorti, and Marilyn Davison (and her dog, Chili!)

ComeOnGirls is a nonprofit that works to alleviate poverty by improving women’s education. The pilot program will launch in Western China —where Li says two-thirds of female students drop out of school — and she hopes to expand to other countries like Brazil and India. “We want to help remove the financial barrier and gender discrimination in secondary education by awarding scholarships,” she says. “The girls we select must demonstrate outstanding academic performance or special talents, and the drive to change their own lives as well as to contribute to the long-term development of the local community.”

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Seize The Year: And Now For All The Non-Trump News Crowded Out in 2017

It is already the start of the third month of 2017. We have been so absorbed with the daily barrage of news from Washington DC and Mar-a-Lago, and news about news, both fake and real, that it seems all other headlines have been crowded out. So much else needs to be done in 2017 to create the headlines we would like to see in the months ahead. It is time to “carpe annum”, to seize the year.

No doubt, 2017 will live in the long shadow of 2016. We must also find ways to take stock and push beyond the shadows. Of the many from which to pick, we found 5 developments from the past year worth noting in its impact on our work ahead.

Read the full piece from Dean Chakravorti in Forbes

The Fletcher D-Prize: Ready to Work Yourself into an Internship/Job that has Real Impact?

Interested in taking a proven poverty solution and bringing it the last mile to people who really need it?
Want a summer experience which tests your sustainable development skills in an emerging market?
Ready to work yourself into an internship/job that has real impact with little downside risk?

The Fletcher D-Prize is all that and more.  You can use the summer to tackle some of the world’s greatest development challenges with a proven poverty solution AND potentially create your next job, all while having a great learning experience.  The deadline to apply is midnight, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 7th.

Learn more about the Fletcher D-Prize

All it takes is……

  1. Pick a challenge – and a corresponding proven poverty solution
  2. Enroll a Fletcher/Tufts/other student(s)/alumni to be on your team
  3. Download your application packet here
  4. Submit your 2 page concept note and resumes here by midnight, Monday, Nov 7th

***To help, Rocky Weitz, The Fletcher School entrepreneur coach in residence, has set aside all day Friday, November 4th  from 10:00am – 5:00pm  to meet and help brainstorm your application.
Email him at 
Rockford.weitz@tufts.edu  with “D-PRIZE – Office Hours Request” in the subject line, and you will get priority! Rocky can also help match you up to other team members. ***

 

Student Research: Project Rashmi – Launch of a local media venture in a tribal area in India

by Alisha Guffey (MIB 2016), Nemmani Sreedhar (MALD 2016), and Rajiv Nair (MALD 2016)

In the summer of 2015, we conducted research to understand media consumption patterns in economically poor areas across India. We found that there was an acute shortage of local content with respect to current affairs across India. This was true even in areas where television and internet penetration was high. We realized that it was business economics that did not allow media companies to spend resources to collect local information, as the costs to do so was more than the revenue that could be generated through advertisements broadcast to a local, generally poor, audience.

Focus group screening of Rshmi

Focus group screening of Rshmi

With support from the Harvard Innovation Lab and MIT Media Lab, we designed a concept that could reduce the costs of local content generation drastically while providing a platform to unheard voices. The concept involves crowd-sourcing content through commonly used mobile phones and curating this content based on relevance to a particular location. The Institute for Business in the Global Context at the Fletcher School supported us with funding and guidance for launching a pilot of our concept in the tribal area of Attappady in South India during summer 2016.

After reaching India, we scheduled meetings with all major stakeholders to get buy-in for our project. We met the Chief Secretary of Kerala (top bureaucrat in the state), Tribal Minister of Kerala, elected leaders of both National Parliament and regional legislative assembly, local government offices, and the District official handling Attappady region. Additionally, we also met community leaders from the hamlets that constitute Attappady. To tackle the issue of communicating in local languages, we recruited two students (Prasad and Bharathan) from the tribal community to assist us.

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Facebook Live Interview: “Peace Through Entrepreneurship,” with Steven Koltai and Dean James Stavridis

Tomorrow at 9:30AM EST Dean James Stavridis will go LIVE with alumnus, author and CEME Senior Fellow Steven Koltai! Tune in and watch on The Fletcher School Facebook page as the pair discuss Koltai’s latest book, “Peace through Entrepreneurship.”

Can’t make the event? Stay tuned for an archived version of the chat!

Charles Dokmo (F14) Co-Founds Kumwe: The Future of African Freight

What’s it like to launch a social venture in a low-income country and have real world impact?

Picture this: 10 tons of maize grown by 8000 different smallholder farms in Rwanda, all trying to get to market in Kigali. The challenge? The crops are here; the markets are there. Lack of access to reliable, efficient, and transparent transportation means farmers struggle to get their goods to customers. Spoilage, delays, and lost shipments all come at great costs.

That’s where Kumwe comes in.

Co-founded by Fletcher alumnus Charles Dokmo (F’14) as part of a team of supply chain engineers from MIT, Kumwe aims to create a ground transportation brokerage to serve as “the connective tissue” between shippers, including farmers and transporters. The brokerage is intended to ensure professional, reliable and affordable freight transportation, all while lowering costs and improving efficiency in getting goods to markets for small farmers and other shippers.

Back in the summer of 2013, Dokmo completed a Blakeley-funded summer internship in Chad following his first year as a MALD student. “This is where I experienced first-hand the challenge of last-mile distribution,” said Dokmo. “I was helping a small biomass charcoal and cookstove pilot project become financially sustainable when I discovered the largest barrier to profitability was a lack of predictable, affordable transportation.”  This sparked the idea of Kumwe, which turned into a reality after Dokmo graduated from Fletcher.

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Global Research Fellowship: $400+ Million to Create a Knowledge-Based Economy?

by Nadim Choucair (MALD 2016) and Thomas Flynn (MALD 2017)

With no warning, Banque du Liban, the Lebanese central bank, issued Circular 331 in August 2013. If you believe some people, the idea for the Circular came directly from the mind of BdL’s governor, who conceived of it while flying from New York City to Beirut. Others say that it was created at the behest of the Lebanese banks to allow them to invest some of their reserve capital. Whatever the case, the Circular — designed to spur economic growth and create more and better paying jobs — seeks to foster a “knowledge-based economy (KBE).” Essentially, the Circular is a guarantee scheme which encourages Lebanese banks — an economic pillar of the country, yet very risk averse — to invest up to 4% of their capital, amounting to at least $400 million, in startups, incubators, accelerators, and venture capital firms.

The "buzz" surrounding entrepreneurship in Lebanon is palpable

The “buzz” surrounding entrepreneurship in Lebanon is palpable

In summer 2016, we went to Lebanon to answer the question: Given the context of Lebanon, is Circular 331 the most effective way to improve access to finance and therefore to help create a knowledge-based economy?

Lebanon’s economy has struggled since 2010, its political institutions are ineffective, and its infrastructure is weak. The rise of the Islamic State and the war in Syria have scared away foreign investors and tourists, particularly those from the Gulf. Lebanon’s traditionally strong real estate and tourism sectors have subsequently faltered. Instead of focusing on these traditional sectors, the Circular builds on the wave of tech entrepreneurship, and corresponding support organizations, that emerged in Lebanon in the mid-2000s.

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Global Research Fellowship: Entrepreneurship in Nunavik – A new way of sharing?

by Nathan Cohen-Fournier (MIB 2017)

To share: to allow someone to use or enjoy something that one possesses. We can share what we possess in substance such as food or toys. We can also share immaterial matter such as time, memories, or affection. The meaning of words evolves along with the context and culture in which societies operate. That is to say the transformation is continual.

Nunavik skyline

Nunavik skyline

For the past 50 days, I have been conducting a research project on entrepreneurship in Nunavik, the northern portion of Québec. Inuit account for approximately 90% of the region’s 12 090 inhabitants and live in 14 villages connected solely by air and maritime transport, when possible.

When I first arrived, I was craving to discover spiritual bonds uniting native peoples with nature. I believe in the interconnectedness of life and matter. I was initially disappointed to discover a community in many ways similar to the ones “down south,” so clearly distinct from its surrounding environment. Maybe the spirituality I was looking for expressed itself in a way which I had not expected. I couldn’t force the discovery of what I wanted.

That’s when I started to realize the extent of sharing in modern Inuit culture.

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