Economic Empowerment of the Needy (SEEN)

PraveenKumar Sundararaju, current Global MBA student showcased his social business venture, Society for Economic Empowerment of the Needy (SEEN) at the European Social Business Forum, 2016 at Utrecht, Netherlands. The venture was showcased to Muhammad Yunus, Nobel prize laureate and other participants.

European Social Business Forum was created in 2013 and designed to bring together everyone active in social business. Furthermore, it gives insights to those interested in the concept and creates a familiar networking atmosphere for all participants. One of the main goals of the forum is to use participants' expertise and experience to shape the way forward for social business in Europe. The program of the European Social Business Forum is composed of key note speeches, panel discussions and presentations of activities, as well as interactive sessions in which solutions for relevant topics are discussed. In addition, exhibitions give an opportunity to showcase concrete examples of social businesses, exploring innovative ways to solve social issues within the society.

SEEN is involved in empowering the informal sector by providing need based training through public and private partnership in India, and also through product innovation. The trained workforce will be connected to the customer through the online platform. The initial service includes household service, electrical, plumbing, carpentry, gardening, landscaping, etc. The pilot project will commence soon in India. 

The Product R&D is to provide affordable and innovative solutions to the informal workforce in India. The team analyzes the top problems and proposes solutions which are feasible and affordable by the people in need. 

Electronic Wearable Cleaning Device:

Praveen showcased one of his inventions of an Electronic Wearable Cleaning Device (patent pending) to assist millions of domestic workers in India. The domestic workers are mostly women and are paid poor.  They work on 2-3 houses per day and they soft hands become rough because of day long cleaning work.  The activities include cleaning utensils, washing clothes, etc. The product is a wearable device with automatic brushes, motors and rechargeable batteries. The device can reduce their time and effort by 40% and protect their hands from chemical exposure. It also prevents Tennis elbow syndrome. It is a multi-purpose device that can be used for cleaning utensils, washing clothes and washing cars. 

The other products include Low Cost Refrigerator (concept) and a Digital Writing Device to replace traditional paper based notebook.  Praveen and his team were also the regional finalist in Hult prize, Shanghai.


Authentically Disney, Distinctly Chinese

Delphine Lau, Global MBA 2014-2016, France
A big and unique opportunity during the Shanghai field trip was to visit the almost opened Shanghai Disneyland Park, the biggest investment for the Disney Company (at leat 5,5 billions US$ sharing with Shanghi Shendi Group Joint Venture).

During several hours all the batch was emerged with the Walt Disney Shanghai team who shared with us their  way of thinking business and their big challenges to integrate Chinese culture so far away from Western culture !
Indeed, the Disney stories hold a special place in the heart of millions people in Western culture. For more  than  90 years, the Disney unique characters have inspired generations of adults. I, personally, grew up with Disney which let a strong print in my imagination. I always became really excited when visiting the Paris Disneyland park and each year I looked forward to watching the new happy end Disney movie.

So when you know that Chinese people did not grow up with Disney characters and that the Chinese popular stories should end up sadly, how do you think that Disney Company would be able to integrate a traditional Disney theme park  in the heart of China?
Through important and deep market research, Disney understood that Chinese people wanted the traditional Disney experience even though they did not bear in them the Disney culture. But Disney had also this certitude that they would fully enjoy if they felt comfortable with Chinese culture reference. Thus Disney company created and built  all its Shanghai Disneyland park following that short motto « Authentically Disney, Distincly Chinese ». In other words, enjoy a full disney experience with the Chinese way of life and Disney stories knowledge.

Disney company decided to build the park in a style similar to Disney’s other magic Kingdom style parks. But in order to make the Chinese people more familiar with the park, Disney Company adapted the Park to Chinese culture specificity through powerful details which combined Disney stories and characters to attractions specifically designed for Chinese guests.  For example, Main Street, which is the first themed land inside the main entrance of the Disneyland park and represents a early-20th-century small-town America, has been replaced by Mickey Avenue. By visiting Mickey Avenue, Chinese guests are invited to discover the past of Mickey and Disneyland roots.


But integrating China culture is not only the biggest challenge facing by Disney. Another one is to achieve performance according to Disney traditional high expectations and requirements. Disney will have to develop and maintain an innovative and efficient supply chain, as vendors and human capital. As most of the employees would be hired locally, Disney would also have to face with training people to reach the best international practice.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed that company visit because we had that opportunity to enter in the Disney atmosphere and get the global pictures of the business. To sell a product that is not an item but an experience is very challenging and requires the best practices at each level of the project.