One of the cornerstones of the Saint Mary’s Trans-Global Executive MBA Program (T-GEMBA) is the social service management project. The project, which consists of two trips to a far-flung corner of the globe and a boots-on-the-ground experience, has lofty goals: to elevate the quality of life and livelihoods in a developing country, and reducing world poverty.
On May 13, students who have made the trip and Academic Director of the T-GEMBA Program Dr. Linda Herkenhoff, gave presentations on their experiences in Indonesia while working with three nonprofits.
“The social service management project is part of what makes the Saint Mary’s T-GEMBA experience so valuable,” said Herkenhoff. “The project is a unique, real-world opportunity for students to build their analytical skills and work on the craft of management.”
The program is symbiotic, one where businesses and non-profits—often in developing nations—get access to highly educated advisors, while MBA students have an opportunity make an immediate, practical difference in the lives of people living on limited means.
One of the organizations that students worked with was Dreamdelion, a social business dedicated to empowering people, especially women, in urban slum areas. Dreamdelion aims to reduce unemployment among women in South Jakarta through skills training and work programs for women aged 15 to 25.
Similarly, T-GEMBA students worked with the Indonesian Street Children Organization (ISCO), a group dedicated to improving the quality of life of street children through education. ISCO provides scholarships and educational support for children, starting in pre-school and continuing, when possible, through university.
Students also supported JCI Bandung’s Organic Waste Recycling, a project that allowed for the production of fertilizer, and fish and poultry food by recycling local organic waste. The aim is to implement Organic Waste Recycling’s processes in local villages to create local jobs which reduces the need for villagers to travel to the city to seek work.
For each project, T-GEMBA students provided different types of support and expertise. Those who worked with ISCO established training partnerships and job opportunities with potential employers and identified the best organizational structure to support the growing needs of the ISOC, while students working with Dreamdelion identified employment potential for locals. For each of the groups, creating a model that allowed the organizations to operate without outside donor support was central to their efforts.
“These projects provide livelihood to those at the bottom of the pyramid,” said Herkenhoff. “The efforts of our students to improve the lives of others is a part of Saint Mary’s Lasallian tradition. We could consult at companies elsewhere, but we are committed to social service and think it’s critical to provide this type of support in places that can really benefit from it.”
“We hope this community-wide presentation night will showcase the international work Saint Mary’s students accomplish and inspire other volunteers to join in on these types of projects,” said Herkenhoff. “There really is a place for everyone to get involved, independent of skills.”