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Hoffmann Institute


MBAs Making a Real-World Difference

Hoffmann Institute

MBAs Making a Real-World Difference

MBAs Making a Real-World Difference

The INSEAD Social Enterprise Consulting Experience (SECE) initiative was started by MBA students with alumni support to leverage the talent and experience of INSEAD students and generate value for social impact start-ups. For the social enterprises, who would not have access to strategy consulting services, SECE team engagement is valuable to their sustainable growth.

The SECE focuses on short-term consulting as part of a two-to-three-month Independent Study Project. This initiative is supported by the Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society, faculty members led by strategy Professor Chengyi Lin, the INSEAD alumni network and mentors from top consulting firms. The SECE aims to connect MBA students looking to make a difference with social entrepreneurs who can benefit from quality management consulting.

The SECE has helped organisations in tech, youth engagement, education and environment. The problems brought SECE students are incredibly varied and include everything from developing a brand book to expansion strategy, financing strategy and process optimization.

This year, students in the SECE took on two projects with big implications for a sustainable future. In each case, INSEAD students made a real-world difference.


Dutch Climate Systems

A team of four MBA students from around the world came together to provide consulting services to Dutch Climate Systems. This impact-driven start-up has developed an emissions-free air conditioning technology that consumes 80% less energy than traditional AC. Dutch Climate Systems approached the SECE to develop an internationalization strategy to expand across Europe.

“Most people don’t know this, but nearly 10% of global energy usage is for air conditioning,” said Arthur van der Lee, Head of Business Development, putting the potential impact of the project into focus.

Market research helped the team target four neighboring European countries with the most attractive expansion opportunities. To evaluate these opportunities, the team analyzed each market using a top-down approach to identify key metrics for evaluation and data gathering. They then performed a bottoms-up analysis to identify potential customers and stakeholders to target in each market.


To ensure actionable options, the team engaged with the founder throughout consultations. They also socialized the results with various key stakeholders in these markets, including construction managers, procurement teams and government officials.

The team quickly learned that entering each market requires a very different approach. Different levels of government support and industry dynamics can affect who makes decisions, including important decisions on selection and procurement of HVAC systems. Following this project, Dutch Climate Systems’ founders are exploring potential partners in each market.

“The SECE provides unique opportunities for our students to learn by doing. They need to connect what we teach in the classroom with the business context in the real world,” said Professor Chengyi Lin.

The SECE and Dutch Climate Systems are discussing future collaboration with INSEAD MBA students.


Blue Ventures

Another group of five MBA students in the SECE discovered their answer to the question ‘What does Business as a Force for Good mean?’

This second team worked with UK-based NGO Blue Ventures and their funding partner, The Rocket Foundation, on a three-month project to accelerate efforts to protect coastal waters and fisheries. Blue Ventures facilitates community-driven ocean conservation efforts at dozens of sites in 14 countries. The NGO sought INSEAD support to set up a new fundraising vehicle and further expand their coastal waters recovery work.

By leveraging the INSEAD network to conduct interviews, the team identified key tradeoffs and considerations for the new fund. The team also provided strategic alternatives based on interdependencies between the funding mechanism and the fund’s investment focus and patterns in how peer funds overcame key governance challenges

As Blue Ventures prepares to launch the new fund, the team can say they played a role in delivering positive impact. Working with Blue Ventures and The Rocket Foundation gave the team first-hand insight into the value that primary research can play in yielding tailored, actionable insights. They also learned the value of performing primary and secondary research to get the full story.


“Force for good should not stay as a slogan or a concept. True change comes from the actions we take. The SECE is a living example of translating passion into actions. All stakeholders in the ecosystem benefit from these interactions,” said Professor Chengyi Lin on the importance of the initiative.

The SECE offered an experiential learning experience, enabling the team to deliver outsize impact on an important topic and providing insight into NGO fundraising techniques and impact-focused financing vehicles. The project was a great showcase of how working together can deepen collective impact on important global challenges.

The experience of supporting an organization working towards positive social impact makes a difference in the real world. As these MBA students graduate, it also shapes their leadership journey with potential for even more impact. The Hoffmann Institute looks forward to seeing the next group of students get hands-on experience with business as a force for good.


The INSEAD Social Enterprise Consulting Experience was established in 2019 by Marton Dosa MBA’19J and Mikel Narbaiza MBA’19J. The faculty advisor is Affiliate Professor of Strategy Chengyi Lin.

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