Hands-On Consulting for Social Enterprises

Published by Abigail Lewis Go & Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society on 21 Oct 2020

As INSEAD welcomes the MBA 21Js, we look back at what kept some of our students busy during the summer break. In an effort to marry hands-on consulting experience with social impact, INSEAD’s Social Enterprise Consulting Experience (SECE) team opened its doors to interested students as part of an Independent Study Project (ISP) from May to June 2020. The consulting team eventually consisted of five INSEAD MBAs - Chote Jindaratanacholkij, Kathy Fabellon, Abby Lewis-Go, Susan Liu, and Ian Park.

The team was matched with a consulting project for Edbridg, an ed-tech startup based in Paris with a mission to open education to talented individuals worldwide by education financing through Income Sharing Agreements. Keen to expand to other markets, the founders of Edbridg also wanted to focus on education financing for students of technical-vocational courses in the UK. Planning the possible future of this expansion, the consulting team (alongside the SECE), delivered a financial modelling tool and a presentation with recommendations for the most promising market sub-sectors.

“Every year, I am affected by the passion and commitment of the students for SECE. Their deliverables help non-profits or startups to improve their business position. In return, the students can integrate their learnings across various subjects and apply to a real-world challenge,” explained INSEAD Professor Chengyi Lin, sponsor of the ISP.

The consulting team completed what they set out to do by first, analyzing the market attractiveness by examining industries with high labor shortages like tech, healthcare, hospitality, and construction. Students aiming to enter these industries seemed to enjoy promising employment prospects, and were therefore attractive potential clients for Edbridg. The team then researched industry conditions, high-demand roles, training programs, and financing demand and supply within each industry, and eventually designed and administered a survey to graduates of a prospective institution. While the idea seems exciting at the onset, their research revealed various difficulties that discouraged entry, given the startup's budding stage.

While the founders eventually decided to forgo entry as recommended, their gratitude for the consulting team was evident. Walid Behar, one of the founders of Edbridg, said, “The SECE team has brought the excess oxygen we needed at a critical time. The diversity of profiles enabled us to tackle various work streams and also benefits from different angles of analysis.” The research conducted by the consulting team freed their resources and time in order to explore other possibly more fruitful expansion plans.

Reflecting on the experience, the team lead, Chote shared, “I found Edbridg experience to be very interactive and powerful. The implication of our finding has a tremendous impact on the team. They really were looking to us for new perspective. I learned more about team collaboration over zoom across different time zones. I fully appreciate that INSEAD allows me to be helpful to others across border and beyond my expectation."

SECE is an initiative started by 19Js that has helped social enterprises in the INSEAD network generate value and amplify impact through short-term consulting projects. We are supported by the INSEAD Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society, faculty members (Strategy professors with former consulting background), and mentors from top consulting firms such as BCG and Bain & Company.

Category:  Learning

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