MBA 294.4 – Market-Based Approaches to Poverty Alleviation (1 credit)






MEETING DAY(S)/TIME:  Monday, 4:00-6:00 PM.

Class will be held in 5 sessions on the following dates:  8/31, 9/14, 9/21, 9/28, 10/5, and 10/12.

During the week of September 7, class will not take place due to Labor Day; instead students should plan to attend the public event “Putting the People First: Human-Centered Poverty Alleviation” on Tuesday, September 9th from 6-7:30pm in Stanley Hall, Berdahl Auditorium. Although attendance is not required, it is highly encouraged.


All students interested in taking the class are encouraged to come to the first class meeting on Monday, August 31st.

Non-Haas graduate students must fill out a paper form to request a seat in MBA electives, including MBA294 courses. The form is available at the reception desk in the MBA Program office, S-430, and their deadline to turn in the form is by the end of the second week of classes.   They will add the course to their schedule the following week, if the class can accommodate them.

In the Fall of 2008, over 1/3 of the enrolled students were from graduate programs outside of Haas and no one was denied enrollment from the class.  The student and faculty organizers are actively trying to recreate the multi-disciplinary experience this year and encourage graduate students from across campus to enroll in the class.

Undergraduate students cannot take MBA courses.


The class will be a mixed format of guest lecturers and interactive discussions related to assigned readings, videos, and case studies.  Discussions will be led by David Lehr and Jocelyn Wyatt.


A selection of brief articles focused on areas relevant to guest speakers will be assigned prior to each class to facilitate group discussion.  These readings will be posted on bspace or links will be provided.


Class will be graded Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory.  To pass the course, students must attend at least 4 sessions (not including the event on 9/9) and participate in the final assignment for the last class.


This course will identify and examine approaches to impacting poverty through the use of market-based mechanisms. Empowering people to make economic choice can yield large standard of living benefits, and markets not only empower people, but also allow them to make choices that are best for themselves.  Several examples will be looked at from the non-profit, corporate and social enterprise sectors with a strong emphasis on non-US markets with the goal of developing an overall framework for market-based approaches and how to develop them. Wherever possible current practitioners will be brought in to share their experiences regarding what works and what doesn’t.

The class will begin with an overview of the international development landscape and why there is a rapidly growing interest in market-based interventions among the development and business communities.  Each class will focus on a new theme ranging from innovations in product and service design, business models for social enterprises, social financing mechanisms, and creative and effective partnerships. Throughout we will look at practical examples of these approaches.  The course will conclude with student presentations that examine specific organizations and the approaches they have taken.

The course brings together advice and best practices from successful practitioners and institutions as well as from those providing the capital and business approaches for their success.  It will also serve as an excellent venue for challenging traditional approaches to development, while exploring the limits of the market as a poverty reduction tool.

The class includes different speakers, readings, and lectures from the Fall 2008 Enterprising Solutions course so students who have previously attended the class are encouraged to enroll this year.


David Lehr

David Lehr has over fifteen years of experience in international business development, particularly in the area of information and communications technologies. He is currently Senior Advisor, Social Innovations at Mercy Corps where he works to develop sustainable businesses in the failed and fragile states of the world that create employment and economic growth.  David has also consulted for several non-profits, including the Gates Foundation, and has written widely on the use of the mobile phone for development and on microfranchising.

David recently worked in India as an Acumen Fund Fellow, where he assisted the Drishtee management team in their expansion efforts. Previously, David was one of the innovators behind Reuters Market Light, a commercial venture that delivers customized market data via mobile phones to farmers in the developing world. He has also held management positions with key Silicon Valley companies, including launching Adobe Systems in China, and has lived and worked in several countries in Asia and speaks Mandarin Chinese. David was a Fellow at Stanford University, holds a Masters from the University of California, San Diego, and a BA from the State University of New York at Albany.

Jocelyn Wyatt

Jocelyn Wyatt’s career has focused on building social enterprises and advising businesses in the developing world, using the market to create social change.  Jocelyn leads IDEO’s Social Impact domain, which she has grown during the past two years.   At IDEO, Jocelyn has brought a business perspective to a variety of social impact projects with clients including Rockefeller Foundation, Kickstart, Acumen Fund, and Gates Foundation.

Prior to joining IDEO in October 2007, Jocelyn worked in Kenya as an Acumen Fund fellow with an agro-pharmaceutical company.  Jocelyn also served as VisionSpring’s Interim Country Director in India.  Additionally, Jocelyn worked in international training, project management, and business development at Chemonics International, a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Jocelyn received an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management and a BA in Anthropology from Grinnell College.

Class 1 (August 31, 2009): Introduction to Markets and Development

Given the technological advances we’ve made in the last century, the question of why poverty continues to persist is a puzzling one.  In this session, we will discuss some of past approaches to international development, understand what has worked or failed, and begin learning about market-based approaches to development and the impact of market access on reducing poverty.

Guest Speakers: Jocelyn Wyatt & David Lehr

Required Readings:

  1. Gentile, Mary C.  A Tale of Two Stories. Aspen Institute Giving Voice to Values series.
  2. Moyo, Dambisa. Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa.  New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009.  Chapter 2: A Brief History of Aid.
  3. King, Martin Luther. Letter from Birmingham Jail, 1963

Optional Readings:

  1. Sachs, Jeffrey.  The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time.   New York: Penguin Books, 2005. Chapter 1:  A Global Family Portrait.
  2. McMillan, John.  Underground Markets for the Poor.

Optional Class 2 (September 9, 2009): Putting the People First: Human-Centered Poverty Alleviation

Class 2 features Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO and Founder of Acumen Fund and Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, as they discuss innovative approaches to global development where the people are at the heart of the solution. This is the first time that Jacqueline and Tim have appeared together on stage. It will be a lively discussion moderated by Stuart Davidson, a local venture capitalist and philanthropist.

Social design challenges are typically complex, systemic, and inherently human.  By putting the emphasis on the people, through in-context observations, ethnography, and cultural literacy, solutions can be designed for not only the product or service, but the surrounding ecosystem.

This event is open to the public, but the first 3 rows will be reserved for students enrolled in MBA294.4.  The event will be held in Stanley Hall’s Berdahl Auditorium from 6 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.

Guest Speakers:

Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder and CEO, Acumen Fund

As Acumen Fund’s Founder and CEO, Jacqueline Novogratz is responsible for the vision behind Acumen Fund’s unique approach to using philanthropic capital to invest in scalable businesses that serve the poor with life-changing goods and services. She has led the Acumen Fund team since its launch in 2001, and under her leadership Acumen Fund has invested $40 million in over 35 companies serving 25 million low-income customers in the developing world (as of April 2009).

Company Website:

Tim Brown, CEO and President, IDEO

Tim Brown is the CEO and president of IDEO.  Tim speaks regularly on the value of design thinking and innovation to business and design audiences around the world. Tim has a special interest in the convergence of technology and the arts, as well as the ways in which design can be used to promote the well being of people living in emerging economies.

Company Website:

Stuart Davidson, Managing Partner, Labrador Ventures

Stuart Davidson has been involved in investing in early stage companies for the past 17 years. He is a managing partner of Labrador Ventures, one of the oldest, premier seed stage funds in Silicon Valley. With over $200 million under management, Labrador has invested in more than 90 companies over the last 19 years, helping transform the way we work, communicate and transact business.

Required Readings:

  1. Novogratz, Jacqueline.  The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World.  New York: Rodale Inc., 2009. Chapter 5: The Blue Bakery.
  2. TED Talk, Jacqueline Novagratz,, 2009.
  3. Brown, Tim. Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June 2008.  (

Class 3 (September 14, 2009): Innovations in Products and Services

Design and innovation are increasingly being recognized as important factors for developing appropriate products and services for the Base of the Pyramid.  We will discuss why the application of design thinking is seemingly one of the most recent innovations for the social sector, particularly for social entrepreneurs who can leverage design thinking tools such as empathy, prototyping, and storytelling. In this session, we will also examine several examples of design and debate what makes a particular design approach more or less successful.

Guest Speaker: Luke Filose, VP of Business Development, Fenix

Luke has extensive experience in the field of international development, with a special interest in how innovations are designed and marketed to consumers at the bottom of the pyramid.  He launched a line of energy efficient cookstoves in the Republic of Chad and has worked on projects in five other African countries.

Luke graduated from the Haas full-time MBA program in 2009 and recently joined Fenix International as Vice President of Business Development.  Fenix provides affordable small-scale energy generation and storage solutions for the bottom of the pyramid.  He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from UC Berkeley in 1999 and has worked with HIV/AIDS orphans from Uganda as well as serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mauritania and performing stand-up comedy.

Company Website:

Required Readings:

  1. Polak, Paul. Out of Poverty.  San Francisco: Berrett-Kohler Publishers, 2008.  Chapter 3: It All Starts with Making More Money.
  2. Shulman, Ken.  Designing Products for a New Age. Metropolis Magazine, March 2009.

Optional Readings:

  1. Polak, Paul, “Practical Problem Solving”,
  2. Brown, Tim. Change by Design.  New York: HarperCollins, 2009.  To be released in September 2009.

Class 4 (September 21): Innovations in Business Models

A successful business model is critical for understanding customer needs and becoming financially sustainable.  In this class we will outline various pricing models that social enterprises use when selling to the poor in developing countries, and some of the challenges they face in reaching financial self-sufficiency.  We will also identify different situations when a particular model is most appropriate.

Guest Speaker: Anne Marie Burgoyne, Portfolio Director, Draper Richards Foundation

Anne Marie Burgoyne is responsible for identifying and supporting Draper Richards Foundation Fellows and creating infrastructure for the support of the Fellows and their organizations.   Before joining Draper Richards, Anne Marie was the Executive Director of United Cerebral Palsy of the Golden Gate where she undertook a successful financial and operational turn-around and program merger.

Currently Anne Marie serves on the Boards of Scojo Foundation, Grassroot Soccer, Build Change, Genocide Intervention Network, One Acre Fund, LivingGoods, Mapendo International and the Stanford Graduate School of Business Alumni Consulting Team; she is on the Advisory Council of Net Impact.

Company Website:

Required Readings:

  1. Monitor: Emerging Markets, Emerging Models, pages 16-23 and 35-100, 2009.
  2. Jawad Aslam, Acumen Fund Fellow Video (; CFW Video

Optional Readings:

  1. Lehr, David; Fairbourne, Jason; Jones-Christensen, Lisa.  Reluctant Retailers and Willing Workers: How Microfranchising Aids the Necessity Entrepreneur.  Working Draft, July 2009.

Class 5 (September 28): Innovations in Financing

For most social enterprises, their main priority is focused on improving lives and serving low income customers.  As a result, social entrepreneurs often lack the financial track record or collateral that a bank requires before making a loan, and rarely produce the types of financial returns that traditional venture capitalists require.  In this class we will investigate the funding and financing of social ventures, including specific tools like grant-making, program-related investments, venture philanthropy, and venture financing. We will also briefly look at the role of microfinance in entrepreneurship financing.

Guest Speaker: Maya Chorangel, Managing Director of Elevar Equity

Maya Chorengel has been involved in microfinance investing since 2005. Prior to becoming Managing Director of Elevar Equity, she was Managing Director of the Dignity Fund, a private investment fund that provided loans and guarantees to commercially oriented, high-growth microfinance institutions throughout the developing world. Maya also serves on the boards of the Dignity Fund and Silicon Valley Microfinance Network, the advisory board of WaterPartners International, as well as the investment committees of the Dignity Fund, MicroCredit Enterprises and Wokai.

Company Website:

Required Readings:

  1. Edwards, Michael.  Just Another Emperor: The Myths and Realities of Philanthrocapitalism.  New York: Demos, 2008.  Chapter 3:  pages 33 to 53.
  2. Trelstad, Brian. The Nature and Type of Social Investors.  Acumen Fund, April 2009.

Class 6: (October 5) Innovations in Partnerships

Partnerships, especially with a large and established player, can lead to quick growth and access to large numbers of potential customers, but they also come with unique challenges and drawbacks.  This class will look at a variety of approaches to scaling reach and impact including Public / Private Partnerships, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Corporations

Guest Speaker: Robert Chatwani, Senior Manager, eBay

Required Readings:

  1. Karnani, Aneel. Romanticizing the Poor. Stanford Social Innovation Review, Winter 2009.
  2. Kramer, Mark and Porter, Michael.  Making a Real Difference. Harvard Business Review, 2006.

Optional Readings:

  1. Anderson, Jamie et al. Lessons from the Developing World. MIT Sloan Management Review, 2009.
  2. Prahalad, C.K.  The New Age of Innovation: Driving Cocreated Value Through Global Networks. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.
  3. Levine, Jonathan and Hamaoui, Jeffrey.  The Secret Sauce: Partnership Models That Work for Business and the Poor. Origo Social Enterprise Partners, 2004.

Class 7 (October 12): Capstone: Identifying Innovations for Specific Organizations

During the class we have looked at four broad areas of innovation and how these ideas and practices apply to market-based approaches.  In this last class student groups will present on socially-minded organizations and how, or if, the organizations have adopted market approaches.

A partial list of organizations: Riders for Health, VisionSpring, WaterHealth International, d.Light Design, Partners in Health, Kiva, Aravind, Kickstart, One World Health, CFW HealthStores.  If there is a social enterprise that you are interested in researching that is not on the list, please email David and Jocelyn to get their approval.


8 Responses to MBA 294.4 – Market-Based Approaches to Poverty Alleviation (1 credit)

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  2. […] approaches to international development. The discussion was part of a Haas class called Market Based Approaches to Poverty Alleviation taught by former Acumen Fund Fellows Jocelyn Wyatt and David Lehr. Not your average business school […]

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