How can Kelley Indianapolis students make an impact in Swaziland, the African nation hit hardest by the AIDS pandemic with a young population eager for enterprise?
In a recent visit to Swaziland, Africa, Kelley Indianapolis Executive Dean Phil Cochran and Peggy Daniels Lee, Kelley assistant professor operations and supply chain management, considered how Kelley study abroad students could innovate enterprises for the young people in Swaziland who, at a young age, are the heads of their households.
Working with Cynthia Prime, founder of the nonprofit Saving Orphans Through Healthcare and Outreach (SOHO), IUPUI deans from the schools of business, public health, informatics and the Honors College are looking for ways their students can make an impact in the emerging country.
“Our goal at Kelley is to take students over there and get them involved in social enterprises,” says Dean Cochran. “That was the first thing Cynthia approached me about – can we look at starting some sort of social enterprise for a couple hundred young children who come to this ‘Welcome Place’ that serves as a school, kitchen and medical facility.”
Cynthia, who has spent the last nine years working to aid and empower child-headed households left parentless by the AIDS pandemic, believes this population is prime for inspiration.
“Those children are hungry to learn – they don’t want to suffer the same losses their parents did because of disease,” says Cynthia. “Ask any child: they might be barefoot and can’t spell their name and they’ll tell you they want to go to school, they want to learn, they’re hungry for change.”
In fact, Kelley students are already generating potential ideas for SOHO. Half of Professor Lee’s Honors Operations Management class researched and developed potential social enterprises for SOHO as part of a strategic plan they developed for Cynthia. Many of their recommendations focused on how to change or manage her operation to achieve SOHO’s goals.
Often, even a small gesture can make a large impact. During the recent visit, the IUPUI leaders toured the facilities and were so moved by the needs of the SOHO children that each of the five IUPUI deans and senior administrators chipped in $1,000 out of their own pockets to replace a broken well at the children’s Welcome Place so the community could have clean water.
“That makes an incredible statement to the people in that chiefdom that this isn’t just a school project, IUPUI is an institution that’s really interested in social change and social betterment of their country.”