When Daniel Diaz, MBA 20, joined Kennemer Foods in the Philippines as a fellow last summer he wanted to streamline cash payment processes between cacao farmers and their buyers. Diaz pitched the idea of using digital wallets to access cash payments via cell phone, an idea that quickly faded.
“Many farmers had basic phones and telecom companies weren’t offering money transfer services via text,” said Diaz, a former fellow at Kennemer Foods, which provides agronomic assistance, including financing, access to export markets, and crop management, to smallholder farmers. “Plus, a lot of these areas either lack internet or have spotty internet, so digital wallets weren’t going to work.”
Instead, Diaz pitched prepaid debit cards as an alternative payment method, which the company is now considering.
Diaz was one of nine full-time MBA students who received stipends from the Haas Social Impact Fund (HSIF) to cover the cost of social impact internships for the summer. Each spring, the HSIF organizes a fundraiser asking classmates to donate a day’s pay that they’d receive from a corporate internship.
Last year, students raised nearly $25,000–the most money since the program launched in 2004–and awarded summer stipends ranging from $1,000 to $6,000 to cover travel expenses, salary, and living expenses.
A grant enabled Pang Sittakaradej, MBA 20, to spend her summer at Small Enterprise Assistance Fund (SEAF), a Washington, D.C.-based social impact investment firm serving small to medium-sized businesses in emerging countries. While there, she created a “gender-smart” manual for equity firms looking to invest in companies dedicated to promoting gender equity policies.
Sittakaradej, a native of Thailand, said she’s grateful for her classmates who donated to HSIF because it allowed her to explore the social sector, a career field that she wants to pursue after graduation.
“To them, making a donation may have been a small gesture, but to me it was a huge help,” she said.
Aanchal Kawatra, MBA 20, said the HSIF grant enabled her to work at Roco Films, bridging her passions for social impact work and media entertainment. Over the summer, Kawatra developed a communications strategy or “pitch kit” to help Roco Films raise money for social impact documentaries.
“Getting funding helped me believe in the students at Haas,” said Kawatra. “Haas actually cares about these [social impact] issues and students who care about these issues. They provide for the students who want to make an impact in this world.”
Fundraising for the HSIF is scheduled for April 20-24, but donations to the fund are accepted year-round here.
To apply for HSIF funding, submit an application by April 24 or contact Paula Fernandez-Baca, MBA 21, MBA Association’s vice president of community to learn more.
Aanchal Kawatra, MBA 20, worked at Roco Films last summer.