HESE is a program where students across all majors come together to develop products and services to solve impactful, interdisciplinary problems in developing contexts.
We have some great ventures that we think your students might be interested in and where your students would have an opportunity to lead. One of the teams is working on launching Bloom, which aims to build a two-sided marketplace communication tool that allows Kenyan smallholder farmers to sell their crops to wholesalers via a mobile platform. In general though, all ventures heavily focus on building sustainable business models through assessing risks, conducting cost and energy analysis, implementing efficient supply chains, marketing and others. Many HESE ventures also compete in pitch competitions, and one of our ventures, Nyansapo recently won the AI challenge and received $10,000 dollars for venture development! Students in the Smeal College of Business have been a big asset to all the ventures as developing a sustainable business model is an integral part of any viable venture.
In case you are unfamiliar, HESE is a 12 credit certificate or 18 credit minor program where the teams systematically advance ventures over multiple years in hopes to launch the venture . Alongside developing the social ventures, students also work on original publishable research. Students usually start taking the classes their junior year, although we do have advanced sophomores in the program too. We also love having seniors come into the program with all of their expertise, but it might not be possible for them to get the certificate/minor. There is an optional travel component to the program where students go to Kenya for the Maymester or summer to test their technologies and business models, and we have many students that stay the whole summer as well.
If you have any ideas or questions, please feel free to reach out to the program director, Dr. John Gershenson at firstname.lastname@example.org.