October 2009 – Getting Started on Global Health

2010
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My team has been looking forward to this class for a very long time. Global Entrepreneurship Lab (or G-LAB) is a class at MIT Sloan that seeks to match up groups of 3-4 students with companies in the developing world in order to not only provide the students with hands-on business experience, but to provide the company with business acumen for their developing venture. We are in G-LAB Africa, which focuses specifically on Global Health Delivery (GHD). My team consists of myself (Deirdre Hatfield), Andrew Black, and Danniel Garmendia and we come from backgrounds that are about as different as you will find in business school. Andrew is originally from California and has started several very successful software companies, Danniel is from Venezuela and has a very strong financial background from his graduate degrees and his work at P&G, and I am from Boston and am interested in sports and retail strategy.

So far, the class has consisted of relevant cases on GHD in Africa and other applicable parts of the world. We have an incredible and accomplished set of faculty that are teaching this class as well. Our professor, Anjali Sastry, has degrees in Physics and Russian and a PhD. in System Dynamics from MIT. She has previously worked as a consultant at Bain, and, her research focuses on health systems in settings where the resources are constrained. Every week, we have at least one class with an expert guest speaker as well. In the past month alone, we have had Dr. Robert Riviello, Michael Seid, and Paul English speak to our class. Nowhere else that I know of, can one have access to such a set of world health experts who also teach us about important business concepts from their experience.

The next part of our class was to find a company. MIT works very hard at securing potential projects with companies in Africa so that we will have a great list to choose from. We then applied for projects and were lucky to get our first choice, ClickDiagnostics. ClickDiagnostics is a company that was born out of the MIT Media Lab a couple of years ago. ClickDiagnostics also won the Development Track of the MIT 100K Business Plan Competition on 2008. ClickDiagnostics aims to provide healthcare solutions via mobile technology that are both affordable and sustainable. Our project focuses specifically on the rollout of the technology at a couple of pilot clinics in South Africa. From there, using what we learn while on the ground in January, we will write a business plan for the further expansion of the clinics. We will also focus on the government and other potential sponsors to see whether there is a possibility of long-term sponsorship for ClickDiagnostics’ model.

For three individuals whose careers will likely not focus on healthcare, this class offers a great way for all of us to gain GHD experience in an international setting. We will spend three weeks on the ground in South Africa in January implementing and revising the work we will do while at MIT during the fall. We have no doubt that the experience we will gain through this class and project will be valuable not only in our careers ahead but during our time at Sloan too. Look for our blog in the coming months… we will be excitedly updating you as we progress. Stay tuned!