Global Consulting Practicum Students Improve Access to Financial Services for the Poor in Kenya

By Andrey Vinogradsky, WG’14, is a regional operations manager at 7-Eleven Inc. in Pleasanton, CA

As soon as I heard about Wharton’s Global Consulting Practicum (GCP), I knew I wanted to take this course. The GCP is an elective in which Wharton full-time MBA and EMBA students are teamed with business students at partner universities around the world to consult for a company or organization. Usually, the client is seeking to enter or expand its position in the U.S. or other world market, but the program also includes social impact projects with governments and nonprofits.

I was interested in the GCP because it would be an opportunity to gain experience working with an organization outside of the classroom and beyond the scope of my own job. Specifically, I wanted to work on a social impact project that could ultimately help millions of people in a developing country.

My team of five Wharton|San Francisco EMBA students was assigned to work for the Gates Foundation (our client) on a project in Kenya. The issue involved how to increase access to financial services for people who are living on below $2 a day. How do you create a better banking system? How do you provide better credit? How do you make things like health and life insurance available? How can you apply new technology to help streamline financial service processes?
Working with a team of students from HEC Paris, we began researching the issue last fall, holding weekly conference calls. Trying to get 10 busy executive MBA and full-time students — spread across two continents and multiple time zones — together on a weekly basis was our first challenge. Beyond that, it was a matter of figuring out how to collaborate with people we had never worked with before and how to manage all of the various opinions on the project.

Originally publishing on the Wharton GCP site, June 16, 2014

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