Over the summer, our very own Yoshi Tabuchi (IESE ’11) spent some time in Uganda doing an internship at BRAC.
BRAC is an NGO that is based out of Bangladesh. It is the biggest NGO in the world and has multiple programs in many Asian and African countries.
Over the summer Yoshi worked for the research and evaluation unit, which is responsible for designing BRAC’s development interventions, monitoring progress, documenting achievements, and undertaking impact assessment studies. In particular he was involved in two projects. One was related to microfinance and the other in their Health program. The microfinance project entailed improving the quality of BRAC Uganda’s research with a tool called a “Poverty Score Card”, which they developed and kicked-off prior to Yoshi’s involvement. Yoshi’s role was to train all the credit officers (in about 90 branches all over Uganda) on the optimal usage of this tool. The Health Program related project entailed analyzing the sales data and to develop an action plan to motivate sales to women. BRAC provides villages with health products, from soap to medicines, for cheaper than the average market price. They also hire women from rural communities as their sales force, and share profit with them to support their financial independence.
As per Yoshi:
The great experience was that I could visit fields for my research. Since it is difficult to tell things only from data, I had opportunities to actually visit sites to conduct interviews with people. There, I could not only see the life of people in villages, but also learn about communities perception of our program, the real problems going on, etc.
The other great experience was having had the opportunity to meet many people in and outside of the organization. There were many organizations’ offices so through work and privately, I met many people from a variety of organizations such as UN world food program, UNHCR, Clinton Foundation, Technoserve and other social enterprises.
On a side note, Yoshi happened to be in Uganda during the summer’s terrorist attack
. A suicide bomber detonated a bomb in one of the three ex-pat bars in the capital. Yoshi had been in one of these bars one day prior. This story highlights the level of commitment of individuals willing to assume additional risk in their quest to having a positive impact in the world.