Spring 2013 Student Projects

These represent the culmination of the students’ work throughout the semester. Each group was required to produce a final report- of which all are linked here, as well as a video. Not all groups created a video for this particular project. To see a full list of the videos from this semester, click here.

Wisconsin Sustainability Report

For the last two years, a group of students put together a report on the status of business sustainability efforts in WI.  This annual report is valued by the business community and other decision makers in the state.  Wisconsin is the only state to prepare a triple bottom line sustainability report, modeled on the reports prepared by businesses.  Your job is to decide on the metrics to be used in this year’s report that captures state economics, state environmental and state social issues.  I am open to recommendations on whether to include the same metrics, or to revise what is reported on last year.  Your task would be to work with Tom on the planning and development of the report.  You would need to either author the substantive sections, or find authors that would be included.  We have identified some sources for data for the report, but you should plan on starting with reviewing other organizations’ sustainability reports to determine if we are tracking and reporting on the right metrics.  You would be responsible for both the substance and the production of the report.  Given how many companies are now producing sustainability reports, having this experience under your belt could be a great resume builder.

Brooklyn Bridge to Cambodia

Brooklyn Bridge to Cambodia (BB2C.org) is a relatively young not-for-profit organization that exists to alleviate poverty in rural Cambodia by providing low-cost, efficient treadle pumps manufactured by KickStart International to destitute farmers. Current statistics state that around 80% of the Cambodian population live in rural areas where most rely on farming as their only or main source of income and are affected by issues such as food insecurity, malnutrition, lack of healthcare and education. The pumps allow farmers, 64% of whom are women, to access water and irrigate their crops, leading to increased harvests and thus produce they sell in the markets.

Thanks to marketing efforts suggested by a previous UW student team and research and development into a pump prototype that can be manufactured in Cambodia, they are ready to expand their business. The current method of marketing and selling pumps is to do demonstrations in villages that were shown to have a high potential customer base. Interested farmers will make an order by calling our office. The field staff would then transport the pump on the back of a motorbike to their village, which is on average two hours away from the office. The current method is time-consuming, dangerous for the staff and not an effective supply chain if we want to reach a wider range of farmers in Cambodia. Students were responsible for designing a feasible supply chain(s), beginning from a local manufacturer located in Phnom Penh, to the farmer and possibly including sale agents, wholesale suppliers, and NGOs.

Ōm Boys Food Movement

Social Enterprise Class: The Ōm Boys would like to pitch the university on starting a “class” taught over the course of a year that is focused on social enterprise. However, this class would be an actual food company where the students would run the company and oversee everything from day-to-day operations to strategic visioning. Om Boys asked for help in completing the back-end research to understand the feasibility of a project like this and, if it goes, what the structure and “curriculum” look like. How many students could it serve? What’s the “grade”?

BuyOne|FeedOne nonprofit: Last semester, a group of students worked on ideas for turning our BuyOne|FeedOne model into a non-profit organization to spread the impact of feeding malnourished children. With a clearer vision in mind, they asked for students to expand on last semesters’ work and to begin writing the actual business plan and launch plan for the BuyOne|FeedOne non-profit. BO|FO will partner with caring, socially conscious restaurants to add approximately $1 to each customer’s bill (this could be built into pricing, or many options). BO|FO will build out restaurant partners, build a marketing campaign, and find the most beneficial uses of the money to feed malnourished kids.

Audit of Lands’ End Sustainability Report

Lands’ End is a 46 year old global retailer based in Wisconsin, offering classically styled American sportswear, accessories and Home products for the entire family. They are committed to a superior level of service and connect with their customers through catalogs, on the Internet, through Sears retail stores and in their Inlet shops. Lands’ End employs more than 7000 people and designs, tests, sells, sources, services, packs, and ships over 45,000,000  units each year.  As a company with a history of innovation, they are strongly committed to minimizing their impact on the environment and they are beginning the journey towards sustainability via a focus on product, policies and actions.

They completed their first sustainability report that complies with the GRI C level reporting guidelines. GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) is an international organization that has developed and promotes a framework for transparent and consistent reporting of a company’s sustainability goals and achievements. The GRI process encourages reporting companies to have an independent verification/audit of the report. They asked that a project team provide this independent verification/audit of Lands’ Ends first GRI report.

Slow Money Wisconsin Entrepreneur Showcase

Slow Money Wisconsin, a chapter of the SMA, wanted a student group to design and plan an Entrepreneur Showcase in mid April, 2013. This showcase was part conference, part infomercial, and part  party: a chance to get investors and food & farming entrepreneurs, into a room or a barn or a dancehall together, to hear stories from the local small business and farm front, and see where well-placed investments can not only give a decent rate of return, but also give a decent rate of satisfaction.

The showcase followed a model for a Showcase that has been honed in Northern California. In addition to standard event-planning of finding locales and working within a budget, students were required to:

  • develop a set of criteria for screening potential entrepreneurs who will want a chance to tell their stories and their needs for investment;
  • attract investors so that the crowd is stocked with potential opportunity-seekers.
  • creatively promote the event and lay the groundwork for this becoming an annual or semi-annual event.


Marketing for the Blue Mountain Project

Blue Mountain Project is a grassroots, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that has been helping rural Jamaican communities since 2004. By living and working directly with the communities we serve, we are able to identify key areas of needed development and facilitate sustainable solutions. Our priority program areas were determined in consultation with the community and by our belief in a holistic approach. BMP’s priority program areas are the provision of clean water and quality health care, improving literacy, and economic development. Working with volunteers and community members, we make the most of every donation to effect lasting, productive change.

The Blue Mountain Project needs creative and innovative individuals who are willing to use their marketing and business skills to assist those in need. As a small, holistic development organization, we need you to brand BMP and help us create a unique marketing strategy so that we may reach a wider audience for both fund raising and volunteer recruitment. We hope to target young people under the age of twenty-five who are interested in making a difference. By finding that “it-factor,” we will be able to galvanize more support and attention to further our cause. Please, help us to help others and learn a lot along the way!

Capturing the Solar Harvest for Ethiopia: A Business Model for Solar Dehydrators to Add Value to Root Crops

The project seeks to improve labor productivity and food security of women smallholder farmers in Southern Ethiopia by teaching them how to construct small-scale solar dehydrators with local materials and building demand for orange fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) and potato (P) post-harvest products. The objectives of the project are to 1) develop innovative preservation technologies [i.e., solar dehydrators] for OFSP that retain maximum nutritional value and products that have market potential, and 2) create women-headed business enterprises.

This project will be implemented in a rural area where 1500 households have received training and resources to improve OFSP and SP crop production through the support of academic and private partnerships. The UW has worked with Ethiopian partners at the local, regional, and federal levels since 2007.

We would like to provide women with business & financial skills to make informed household economic decisions, develop local markets & relationships with buyers for OFSP products, create a branding strategy, and empower participants with the tools to launch value-added community businesses.  We need a team of students to help identify and develop the materials that would be most effective.  In a nutshell, we need a business plan, which would include:

  • Market assessment (competition? what does the market want? where is it located? etc.)
  • Competitive position
  • Identify resources available (assets, staff, raw product, etc.)
  • Strengths, weaknesses
  • Risk mitigation
  • Estimation of ROI, start-up investment costs, production capacity
  • Operational plan
  • Marketing plan