MBA students looking at business beyond profit to solve world issues

A group of four Masters of Business Administration MBA students in the Global, Social, and Sustainable Enterprise program are working together with Ayzh, a for-profit social venture founded by CSU alumnae Zubaida Bai to solve one aspect of maternal mortality that currently plagues the developing world.

Grace Hanley, John Striebel, Maria Demirtshyan and Tanmay Telang are currently working together to produce a low cost post-partum hemorrhage kit to be sold in some of the world’s poorest countries. The four members have diverse educational backgrounds ranging from psychology, to marketing and pharmaceutical training.

“We all have skills in other areas and we wanted to learn how to make a difference with business sense,” Hanley said.

PPH causes death in women due to excessive blood loss in the 24 hours after child birth and is the leading cause of maternal mortality in low-income countries, according to the World Health Organization.

“These places are rural, under-stocked and understaffed. We’re hoping to find a solution that can be applicable in many situations,” Hanley said.

The group hopes that their for-profit model will provide a successful solution to a problem that is typically left to non-profits and non-government organizations.

“Non-profits are constrained by donations. What we’ve set up is a sustainable, for-profit business model that allows us to reach more and more women year after year,” said Hanley.

These projects, while considered the practicum requirement of the GSSE MBA program, encompass the entire 18 month program. Students take business classes structured so that the content can be directly applied to each group’s venture, according to assistant professor Kelly Martin, the group’s mentor.

“Other programs have one or two capstone classes. This is all about environmental sustainability and social development,” Striebel said of the program’s unique structure.

The group, who named themselves Janani after the Hindi word for mother, has spent the past ten months researching PPH and considered many possible solutions, according to Demiertshyan.

“It’s important to have an open mind to find a solution,” Demiertshyan said.

The Janani team members will spend six weeks this summer traveling through much of India visiting as many costumer bases as possible, according to Telang. The factors that play into post-partum hemorrhages are different depending on individual locations and there are several different methods of treatment, according to Martin.

“Our goal is basically to verify our hypothesis and see if there is anything we’re missing,” said Hanley of the group’s hopes for this summers field research.

Martin is impressed by the evident teamwork and attention to detail that the group has put into the project so far.

“They have done a great job of methodically and systematically looking at the problem,” Martin said of the group member’s efforts to solve such a complex issue. “If any team can go out and do a great job it’s this team, because they really are a group of talented folks,” Martin continued.

If this summer’s research supports the group’s hypothetical business plan, Ayzh may accept the product and make it available to women worldwide, according to Telang.

The group is accepting donations through www.gofundme.com/janani to help cover travel costs.

Collegian Writer Isabella Heepke can be reached at news@collegian.com.