By Lauren Stadler
Coming from a global public health background, I am intrigued with tackling large scale social justice problems that are deserving of complex interventions. By interning at a small public health NGO in Kampala, Uganda for the semester, through a program called Insight Global Education, I’ve had the unique opportunity to immerse myself in local development complexities working to fully comprehend the repercussions of colonial history and how it continues to affect livelihoods and health in many modern African states by interning at a local ngo and taking classes at a local university.
The organization I’m interning at, Health Access Connect (HAC), uses a micro- finance model to loan motorcycles to individuals in rural at risk communities in order to provide transportation for community health workers (VHTs) so that they can reach underserved communities in Uganda through monthly outreach clinics. The outreaches focus on HIV testing, anti-retroviral treatment, maternal & child healthcare, vaccinations, and essential health services. Community health workers oversee the clinics and work to mobilize community members. Each patient pays $0.55 to help pay for transportation expenses of the driver ($22-28 total for the day), otherwise all health services are free. The goal of each program in each village is eventual local ownership and accountability, thus setting up a sustainable way for people in difficult-to-reach areas to access life-saving health services.
This experience has proven that to address socio-economic health disparities one can consider using a well-conceived business model that empowers individuals to enhance both their own wellbeing as well as their community’s health. From this experience, I have come to appreciate that public health goes beyond just the absence of disease. The field focuses on all aspect of wellbeing and the interdisciplinary study covers diverse sectors including health sciences, statistics, environmental health, business, policy, law, and much more. I’m on a journey of discovering not only which areas best suits my interests, but I am also devoted to discovering where I can have the most impact. At Health Access Connect, I’ve been given the opportunity to involve myself in a variety of tasks to help the organization and gain more clarity into what careers I might pursue. I’ve taken an interest in organization development and program management as I’ve witnessed the necessity to support more small community-based nonprofits like Health Access Connect that work to build local capacity. Possible careers in this field would include working in social impact consulting, social impact investing, or working as a development officer for a specific ngo.
The overall goal of my internship was to learn. Typically, when I tell people that I’m interning in Uganda, they tell me I’m going to change the world and I’m inspiring. However, as an outsider with no experience working in a developing context, I did not expect to come into Uganda and “save” those in need, as that viewpoint, though well intentioned, is patronizing. Instead, by interning at Health Access Connect, I had the specific goal of gaining a better understanding of the logistics that go into creating and operating a social business that focuses on enhancing local capabilities and structures. Specifically, I was interested in learning how large scale projects are financed, how donor investment is stimulated, and how to foster relationships with local stakeholders in order to grow the organization. I spend most days at the HAC office in Kampala learning how to work in various databases and management softwares, especially Salesforce. Managing a small and growing organization with few resources is not easy. My boss and I figure out how we can use these tools most efficiently to improve HAC’s ability to fundraise, oversee staff, and serve people in the remote communities where we work. Another major component of my internship is granting writing and applying to social entrepreneurship prizes, which is a vital part of financially maintaining any nonprofit/ngo. Additionally, I have taken on the management of a project that interviews and analyzes successful local ngos to learn and apply their growth strategies. Intermixed with this are field visits to the communities were HAC works, various small administrative tasks such as a monthly newsletter, social media management, and HAC networking meeting with prominent donors and investors. I’ve met many people here with the passion of combing global health and sustainable development goals with innovate business solutions, and from these vast experiences I hope to walk away with a better grasp of the interdisciplinary skill set needed to properly manage and grow a social organization.
The popularity of impact investing has seen the rise of numerous trading platforms aimed at socially conscious investors, but a team of NYU students has been developing an app that combines the social good of impact investing with the popularity of social media.
Emcee is an up-and-coming trading platform by Stern MBA students Arash Asady and James Lamach that is centered around an idea called “crowdvesting,” which connects investors in the hope that their collective trading ideas will produce greater returns. Unlike other trading platforms that are simply marketed toward less-experienced traders, Emcee’s framework will not only provide casual traders access to investing opportunities, but also will allow aspiring portfolio managers to actively share their knowledge with others on the platform.
First, Emcee’s database will match users with stocks that align with their interests and values. From there, users can craft their portfolio, however large or small, and begin sharing it with their friends on the platform. In this way, friends will be able to view each others’ investments and compare returns, which transforms investing from an individual pursuit into a socially engaging activity that is both enjoyable and educational. Emcee will not charge an Assets Under Management (AUM) fee, a form of compensation typically charged by fund managers, which will make Emcee the first financial services application to waive this fee.
More serious Emcee users can opt to publish their active portfolio on Emcee’s marketplace, where all of Emcee’s users can view a portfolio’s performance, trading history, and investing strategy. When a user uploads a portfolio to the marketplace, other users have the option to track that portfolio, which means their own portfolios will match that portfolio’s investments in real time. The portfolio owners, known as “emcees,” will collect a share of the profits that their followers realize while tracking their portfolio.
The social impact implications of this app are particularly noteworthy. In a study by Morgan Stanley, the share of Millenials who indicated they were “very interested” in sustainable investing jumped to 38% in 2017 from 28% just two years prior; on the whole, 86% of Millenials indicated they were at least “somewhat interested” in sustainable investing. Emcee is poised to connect this new generation of investors with influencers and strategies that truly align with their personal beliefs and interests. At the same time, socially-oriented investors in the space will have the chance to amplify their impact through their band of followers.
Learn more about Emcee Invest at their website: www.emceeinvest.com
Written by Avery Farm
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