Breaking for Sustainable Enterprise

3/16/2011 11:58:00 AM

Sponsored projects draw MBA students to three continents for spring break  

MBA students in Johnson’s innovative Sustainable Global Enterprise Immersion program fan out to three continents next week, during Cornell University’s spring break, to work on the sponsored projects that are the “real world” component of their training in sustainable enterprise. These first-year MBA students will spend their holiday on the ground in Belize, India, and Mozambique, developing executable, scalable solutions for the Belize Tourism Board, John Deere, and Novozymes-Cleanstar, respectively.

 The Belize Tourism Board hosts one group of students, who are developing ways to measure the social, economic, and environmental costs of tourism development in the Central American country. The project, in partnership with Planeterra and Epler Wood International, addresses a growing need for better management tools for the hospitality industry, and destination tourism, in particular. 

“Our students will be talking to folks in local and national government, NGOs, companies, and communities in and around San Pedro and Ambergris Cay to understand the issues and concerns related to more effective management of the cay as a tourism destination for the future,” said Mark Milstein, director of Johnson’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise and senior lecturer of management.

A second group of MBA students heads to India, to focus on a new business for Deere & Co.  John Deere, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of farm equipment, is looking to the team to help conceptualize an improved business model related to mechanization—the greater availability of which improves economic opportunity for small farmers in India.

A third student team heads to Mozambique, where 80 percent of households throughout the country use wood or charcoal as their primary cooking fuel. Sponsoring company CleanStar Mozambique, co-founded by Novozymes in 2009, has developed an ethanol-based cooking fuel that is safer, cleaner, and cheaper than charcoal. Johnson students will develop a marketing and distribution strategy for CleanStar’s ethanol stoves and fuel in Maputo, Mozambique’s capital city and home to 1.5 million people. During the spring break week, they will conduct market and customer analysis for cooking solutions in Maputo, and segment the market, based on the insights gained.

Each year, some 30 first-year MBA students, along with graduate students from other schools and colleges at Cornell, spend the spring semester in the Sustainable Global Enterprise Immersion. Through an intensive “boot camp,” classes, and working with companies that are actively investing in creating and growing businesses that address the world’s most critical problems, these students gain valuable experience and the critical-thinking and problem-solving skills that are becoming increasing more valuable in the marketplace.