Friday, November 14, 2008

INDEVOR

INDEVOR is the club for social impact at INSEAD. It was established by crunchies in 1993, and it has survived (with more and less activity) since. While learning about finance, econ, and accounting by day, it provides students an outlet to talk/learn about ethics, social value, non-profit initiatives by night.

On the Singapore campus we have about 50 people who are on the list and are interested in the issues, and we have about 20 or 25 people who are at least somewhat active.

I was selected as president for the Singapore campus. I have two co-president counterparts in Fontainebleau.

We have had three events so far - an Indian man who works on energy and sustainable projects - for the UN, for the Indian government and many other places. He talked to us about measuring the value of the ecosystem (for example the honeybee does millions of dollars worth of work for us! Who knew!!?).

We had a careers workshop for people interested in careers in social impact (non-profit, foundation, CSR, etc.). It was done by INSEAD Career Services and really useful.

Wednesday night we had two speakers - one who is American and started a non-profit in Singapore educating maids about financial issues. This includes money management and how to save and execute a small entrepreneurial project when they get back to their home countries. The other is Singaporean and one of the biggest entrepreneurs to come out of this country. She has a retail chain (mostly for clothes for youth), and she actually donates a lot of her profits to social causes. Some are causes that are championed by others, and some she creates. She was really crucial in Singapore's winning the Youth Olympics bid for 2010.

The most interesting thing about the event for me was the difference in the two models - one is a sustainable business that is donating the profits, and the other is a non-profit that is figuring out ways to be more sustainable (through selling programs to institutions like banks, or corporate partnership). It was great to sit in the audience and hear people talk about this issue that I think about a lot. I have to say that most of the things I'm learning about in school are not that way - even if I have thought about them (marketing, strategy...), they're not my passion.

INDEVOR has introduced me to great people at INSEAD - all people who are interested in creating some amount of social value. We are working together to bring social impact issues to the school - through speakers, educational programs, discussions and curriculum, and we're also working together on projects that have social value.

One of the projects is spearheaded by my friend, Adonai, who was previously working in W. Africa with the UN. We are working on a project involving carbon credit trading and improved access to technology. When we move forward I can elaborate - we're just at the beginning.

Another student suggested a "brainstorming" program that we can do with local NGOs - that four international business school students can brainstorm with them for 2-4 hours on some of the issues/challenges that they're currently facing. It will provide new insights and hopefully help to guide them in a helpful direction. Since we have a whole bunch of real-life consultants (McKinsey, Bain, BCG, the works), they would basically get counseling/consulting for free.

Basically the club has given me a place for my passions, and I have loved being involved so far.

The only drawback is that it takes about 2-3 hours on an average day!! Who has time???

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