Harvard Business School Social Enterprise

Winning Harvard Business School’s Top Prize in Social Enterprise

Harvard MBA candidate Amrita Saigal (Class of 2014) and her co-founder, Oracle engineer Kristin Kagetsu, swept Harvard Business School’s top entrepreneurship contest yesterday (April 29), nabbing the grand prize and the Audience Choice award in the New Venture Competition’s social entrepreneurship category.

Their idea? Saathi – a social enterprise startup that provides low-cost sanitary napkins and jobs to women in rural India. The two, who both hold mechanical engineering degrees from MIT, wowed both the judges and the jam-packed audience at the Harvard event, drawing top marks – enough to push them ahead of a farm-to-market tomato paste producer in Nigeria, a school tuition program in Colombia, and an education consulting service. The two will use their $50, 000 prize to move to India and open up shop.

Poets&Quants caught up with Saigal at HBS shortly after Saathi’s big win. She explains everything from the inspiration behind the idea to the HBS classes and professors that played a pivotal role in creating the business.

What event or experience gave you the idea for Saati?

I landed an internship my junior year as an undergraduate engineering student at MIT with Proctor & Gamble in the feminine hygiene division. I was 21 years old and did not realize that feminine hygiene meant Always and Tampax – I thought it meant Head & Shoulders and Pantene.

I showed up on the first day and was honestly shocked at what I found. I was a designer, and designing equipment that summer, I was confronted with the fact that women in rural India didn’t have access to pads. Girls were not going to school because of pads. So that was the inspiration. And I knew I could get people passionate about this idea I really cared about.

So I came back to MIT my senior year and convinced my senior design team that we should create a small-scale manufacturing process to make pads out of some type of locally available fiber. We looked at a number of fibers and partnered with a chemical engineering team at MIT who told us that the bark of a banana tree is the most absorbent fiber in the world and it’s readily available.

The interesting thing about banana trees, which I didn’t know, is that from the time you plant the tree to the time you get the bananas takes 9 to 12 months. But they only produce the bananas once, and then you have to cut down the main shoot every year. The farmers cut it up into little pieces and use some of it as fertilizer, but they just stack the majority of it in piles and piles, waiting for it to decompose.

How do you produce the final product? Are consumers okay with tree trunk?

We process the bark into fibers so it comes out as stringy pieces, which are dried and pulverized, and that provides filling for the pads. So it’s a nice fluffy material that we’ve all tried and the consumers are fine with it.

$170,000 for starting MBAs? NO WAY!

by CrashandBurn

How can Bloomberg news and MBA schools LIE THROUGH THEIR TEETH? The economy is definitely weak, rates are going up, energy prices are high, and we are definitely heading towards a RECESSION! This article is such a load of crap. Real estate is going down!!
Harvard MBAs' Salaries Rise as Goldman Boosts Hiring (Update1)
2005-11-07 13:27 (New York)
By Patrick Cole and Brian K. Sullivan
Nov. 7 (Bloomberg) -- The compensation of recent business
school graduates from Harvard, Dartmouth and Stanford rose at
least 9.5 percent from a year earlier, fueled by increased hiring
at investment banks and consulting firms

Regarding investing in apartment complexes

by thedingoatemybaby

There's a good series of b-school case studies about real estate investing that were published as Harvard Business School cases, and which you can purchase online (from memory the website address is something like hbsonline.com though don't hold me to that) for nominal one-time usage fees. (The last time I did this was a few years back and at the time, again from memory, the fees were in the range of $12 - 18 or so per case).
If you go through the case studies they will give you a format to use in evaluating the investment viability of a specific real estate investment project. You can set the proposed investment up on Excel and go through the modeling and get a pretty good idea as to what might work and what would not

Where did O get the money part 2

by Dirty_Old_Bastard

After Columbia, he went to Chicago to work
as a
Community Organizer for $12,000. a year. Why Chicago? Why not New York?
He was
already living in New York.
By 'chance' he met Antoin 'Tony' Rezko, born in Aleppo Syria, and a real
estate developer in Chicago. Rezko has been convicted of fraud and bribery
year. Rezko, was named 'Entrepreneur of the Decade' by the Arab-American
Business and Professional Association'. About two years later, Obama
Harvard Law School

To answer your question . . .

by thedingoatemybaby

I'm only a semi-regular here myself, and don't really have the time to pay much by way of attention to the reputational issues of who posts here regularly and who doesn't.
If I remember correctly, this particular case struck me as being especially useful among the half dozen or so I downloaded from the Harvard Business School case studies website.
If you just go to the site address and type in search terms like "real estate" you'll see all the case studies they have available for sale.
You can then further modify the search terms if you wish to be more constrained, like "real estate investment" or "real estate finance" and so on.

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