MORE TO EXPLORE: Social Innovation

Alumni Spotlight: Ali Knight (MPA 2007)

When Ali Knight (MPA 2007) stepped into the role of CEO at Fresh Lifelines for Youth (FLY) in the summer of 2020, he was stepping into a leadership position during a time of momentous change.

DEVELOPING AN INTRAPRENEURSHIP CAPACITY-BUILDING PROGRAM

Client
NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CITYWIDE ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES
Faculty
Erica Foldy
Team
Rachel Bigio, Julia Boyaval, Jeffrey Claude, Joseph Valiakulathil

The New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) is a city agency that provides shared services to support the operations of NYC’s government. Although the agency has over 2,000 employees spanning 13 units and various internal and external facing functions, it lacks a formal mechanism to foster innovation and facilitate collaboration between units. DCAS’s Strategic Operations Office contracted a team to help build out the Intrapreneur Capacity Building Program, which was first launched in the summer of 2020 to provide training opportunities for employees and build a community of practice around innovation. The Capstone team conducted a literature review and case study analysis on intrapreneurship in the public sector, interviewed various DCAS employees, and developed and administered a survey. The team used its results from this analysis to produce a training curriculum and a toolkit of employee resources for the Intrapreneur Capacity Building Program.

Capstone Year

DIGITIZING A SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION LOAN PROGRAM

Client
GUIDEHOUSE
Faculty
Michael Dardia
Team
Jungeun Chloe Cha, Nadine Fouad, Olvy Nunez Cruz

Guidehouse is a global consultancy that serves as a Central Servicing Agency for US Small Business Administration (SBA) loan programs. Guidehouse engaged a team to analyze the SBA 504 Loan Program, which provides financial assistance to small businesses for major fixed assets that promote business growth and job creation. The team assessed the digital maturity of the program’s end-to-end lifecycle, identified digital gaps, examined the impact of COVID-19 on loan applications, and conducted interviews with stakeholders. It identified benchmarks by comparing the SBA 504 loan process to conventional mortgage loans with advanced digital processes. The team adopted best practices from its research to create a set of recommendations for digitizing the SBA 504 loan program.

Areas Of Impact
Capstone Year

CONNECTING RURAL-TO-URBAN MIGRANT WORKERS TO JOB OPPORTUNITIES

Client
DABASHOU
Faculty
Andy Moss
Team
Yipeng Dong, Xinchi Wang

China’s growing aging population and its removal of the one-child policy has led to a strong demand for housekeeping services, creating an opportunity for the millions of workers with limited education and skills who migrate from rural villages to cities. DaBaShou, the team initiative, seeks to improve the ability of migrant workers to secure hourly jobs in the housekeeping industry. The team’s mission is to improve efficiency and transparency, and promote a safe working environment for the women-dominated home cleaning industry. To assess existing solutions, the home service industry market, and the challenges that urban-to-rural migrants face when looking for employment, the team conducted desktop research, stakeholder interviews, and over 60 customer discovery interviews. The team’s solution—a mobile application that connects clients seeking home services to migrant workers searching for hourly work—is currently being tested in Beijing as a minimum viable product prototype.

Capstone Year

INCREASING PERIOD PROTECTION FOR YOUNG WOMEN IN ZAMBIA

Client
ZAMPADS
Faculty
Andy Moss
Team
Ashley Otto, Olivia Thompson, Camilla Zard

Menstrual Health Management (MHM) is a key aspect of safeguarding the health, dignity, and overall life opportunities of girls and women. A study by Zambia’s Ministry of Education shows that girls miss an average of 36 school days per year due to ineffective MHM. While there are many challenges to implementing effective MHM rooted in social norms and beliefs, access to safe and affordable MHM products is a critical component of ensuring individual protection and gender equity. The team conducted over 60 customer discovery interviews with Zambian women and health organizations, and discovered that many young women in Lusaka still feel unprotected by the cheap pads that are most accessible there. As a result, the team created ZamPads, a social enterprise that seeks to manufacture high-quality, low-cost sanitary pads locally. By leveraging Zambia’s thriving cotton sector and establishing short, cost-effective supply chains, ZamPads can fulfill its mission of providing “period peace of mind” for all women, not just those who can afford it.

Capstone Year

LENDING IN CRISIS: REIMAGINING FUND IMPACT IN POST-PANDEMIC COSTA RICA

Client
BANCO POPULAR
Faculty
John Ceffalio
Team
Benjamin McCarthy, Andrew Schons, Scott Trumbull

The Fondo de Desarrollo de la Micro, Pequeña, y Mediana Empresa (Fund for the Development of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises) is a fund of Banco Popular in Costa Rica. Its mission is to create quality jobs, improve business productivity, and generate new wealth for underserved business owners and communities. Given recent challenges in approving new loans, the bank enlisted a team to reimagine its lending practices and recommit to its social purpose of deploying much-needed capital to current and future businesses. The team’s work included an initial review of published research and institutional reports, interviews with bank personnel and Costa Rican agency officials, and additional interviews with peer development financial institutions in Latin America, the US, and Europe. The team provided the bank suggested modifications to its lending practices, guidance on incorporating more robust impact metrics and measurement systems, and a proposed timeline for implementation.

Areas Of Impact
Capstone Year

Accelerating Artificial Intelligence Adoption in the Nonprofit Sector

Client
IBM
Faculty
Mo Coffey
Team
Abdulla Alhussam, Madeline Dinsdale, Julia Maloney, Kyle Roland

IBM is a leading technology company that provides integrated solutions and services worldwide. In 2016, the IBM Research arm launched the Science for Social Good initiative, with the mission of using data science and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to tackle emerging social and environmental issues. IBM tasked the team with investigating ways to scale the adoption of AI tools in the nonprofit sector. The team reviewed the literature on AI and its relationship to the nonprofit sector, interviewed nonprofits and foundations to understand the field’s current landscape and trajectory, and evaluated the nonprofit sector in terms of its receptiveness, preparedness, and need for new technologies. The team then provided IBM with strategic recommendations for how best to pursue its goal of scaling AI in the nonprofit landscape.

Capstone Year