Institute for Business in the Global Context

Where the World of Business Meets the World

Month: October 2016

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!

Online Retailers: Leading in Innovation, but Lagging in Corporate Responsibility?

Online retailers and brands are making beautiful, unique products more available than ever, and both consumers and investors have flocked to show their support. But are we holding them to the same standards that we’ve come to demand of industry-leading brick and mortar retailers?

Warby Parker store in downtown Boston

Warby Parker store in downtown Boston

In 2015, U.S. retail sales were $2.9 billion, and online retail made up just over 9% of that, at $271 million. While that may look like a small part of a large market, just five years prior, online retail was only 5% of total U.S. retail sales value. By 2020, Euromonitor International projects that online retail sales will nearly double, up to 15% of total U.S. retail sales. Notable growth in the online retail category is projected for every region in the world, which means it deserves the same consumer and investor scrutiny as the rest of the industry.

Through media attention, consumer boycotts, and shareholder resolutions, many established retailers and brands have realized that human rights and environmental abuses in international supply chains are bad for business. As a result, most apparel companies with strong brand recognition have since undertaken corporate responsibility or sustainability strategies as a matter of course.

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