A Gift from Madrid to Reduce PovertyLast month, 400 International MBA students from the IE Business School in Madrid went to Pakistan to work on the “LettuceBee Kids” project, a “social enterprise aiming to provide a self-sufficient mechanism of survival to street children.” The IE Business program challenges its International MBA class by exposing students to extreme poverty-stricken areas and countries where they get to participate first-hand in poverty projects. Within the program, the Change in Action (CIA) module was formed in 2008 as a part of the International MBA agenda to fight global problems.

It was challenging to take a diverse group of 400 of the top students in the program from Madrid to reduce poverty in Pakistan, having them brainstorm sustainable solutions for street children in Islamabad in just five days while they did not know much about the country in the first place. Professor Todd Lombardo brought to the table the design thinking concept – which is composed of six stages: understand, observe, synthesize, ideate, prototype, and test – to help the students come up with innovative solutions.

The author of the article, Saad Khan, urges “elite institutions” to get their students to be involved in similar projects and programs. Exposure to extreme poverty not only creates awareness among those who are not directly affected by it, but it allows for an acknowledgment of the costs of capitalism, the lack of business models which are value-based, and extreme disparities in income between the haves and have-nots. Additionally, Khan believes that foreign policies should be tweaked to better address problems of poorer nations, which in turn would help prevent and tackle terrorism.

– Leen Abdallah

Source: The Tribune