By Claudia Pumarejo, Global MBA 2013-2014, Mexico
It was the moment of the night. Helen Chen, from LEK Consulting had just called our name: “The winners of the second room - ESSEC Business School!” We had to present our idea for a social enterprise in front of over 200 people, 20 of them high profile judges from all walks of life. Only 4 teams out of 30 were selected. We celebrated for five seconds and rushed on stage without thinking too much about it. We did it, we got to the point we were aiming for.
You must be wondering what this idea was. It was the concept of “One.” Our plan was to offer early diagnosis of chronic diseases in urban slums within one hour, within one kilometer from the population at risk, and for only one dollar. Let me explain a bit more about how we planned to achieve this.
Thanks to a strong awareness program that would help us both to attract customers and to educate about prevention, we would enter the market hand in hand with the main stakeholders. We considered internal and external players such as local governments, NGOs, community and religious leaders, doctors and medical schools. In terms of physical resources, we would have vehicles (buses, mini vans, bikes, backpacks) equipped with accurate, easy-to-use diagnosis tools.
During the one hour visit, the first 15 minutes would be spent answering a free risk assessment questionnaire, based on lifestyle habits, body measurements and other criteria. After the first assessment, there would be a filter and a USD $1 fee to go to a deeper examination.
The project would be operated by the slum residents themselves. In terms of human resources, we would have one nurse, a driver assisting with administrative tasks, and four staff members carefully trained by our medical partners. We would give preference to heads of families, usually women, and patients suffering from chronic diseases in our recruitment process.
The challenge was to impact at least 25 million people in five years with our social enterprise. Thanks to a detailed financial and operational analysis, we were able to balance costs and revenues in order to be sustainable.
We chose one slum out of the hundreds surrounding Rio de Janeiro as our pilot and we gave it a face in the form of a woman living there, Maria Gonzales. She was developing diabetes, but she was unaware of it. People in the audience were able to relate to her as we discussed our understanding of the problem through the challenges she was facing.
We chose Brazil because we felt closer to the culture, because this year there is political will to improve the living conditions in the slums (due to the Olympics Games and the World Cup), because at least half of the team spoke Spanish (we planned to expand the project within Latin America), and finally, because if we had won, we would have gone to a start up accelerator in Boston (traveling within the Americas would be faster).
After working hard for three months, we are very proud and satisfied with our performance in Shanghai, and thrilled with all the people we met there.