From Peru to Rwanda, WDI Summer Interns Get to Work

Monday, June 6, 2016

Each summer, as part of its mission to provide high-quality learning opportunities to University of Michigan students, WDI sponsors interns who work overseas with international organizations.

Carissa De Young (center), who is among several U-M students participating in WDI-sponsored summer internships, works alongside a professional coffee taster in Peru. De Young is interning with Shared-X, a for-profit startup social impact business whose mission is lifting thousands of farmers out of extreme poverty.

This year, five U-M graduate students representing five different schools across campus are working in the education, healthcare and poverty alleviation fields. The projects are based in Ghana, Rwanda, Ethiopia, India, Peru and the Philippines.

In addition to providing the students with meaningful business and cultural experience that comes with working internationally, the summer internships also provide WDI’s five initiatives with important insights from the field. This summer’s internships are managed in collaboration with WDI’s Performance Measurement Initiative (PMI), Education Initiative, and Healthcare Initiative.

“The PMI team is excited to provide measurement advice and support to WDI’s interns, learn from their related experiences, and apply those learnings to current and future projects,” said PMI Program Manager Heather Esper. “In particular, we are interested in learning more from the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund/ Affordable Private Education Centres internship in the Philippines. (Learn more about these projects below). Implementing and institutionalizing a new measurement system centered on learning, and conducting demand analyses and customer segmentation are both areas of great interest to our partners.”

Here are the interns and their projects.

Naomi Wilson, School of Education
Organization: Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (PALF) in partnership with Omega Schools
Country: Ghana

PALF makes minority equity investments in for-profit companies to meet the growing demand for affordable education across emerging market countries. Their vision is to help millions of children in the world access a quality education in a cost effective, profitable and scalable manner. Additionally, organization wants to demonstrate to governments and donors that private education can help to educate their youngest citizens in an efficient way.

Omega Schools is a chain of affordable schools in Ghana delivering quality education affordably to 15,000 low-income students.

As Omega continues its growth, it needs a structured, evidence-based, and easy-to-use software tool for selecting new school sites and determining what price point would be appropriate for specific locations. Wilson will research similar tools already in place, analyze enrollment and profitability of current schools, visit current and potential school site and identify key factors to be considered in site selection.


Michael Manansala, Ford School of Public Policy
Organization: PALF in partnership with Affordable Private Education Centres (APEC)
Country: The Philippines

APEC is a chain of affordable, high-quality secondary schools based in metro Manila focused on employability and life skills.

Manansala will aim to improve annual student assessment and quarterly academic reporting by analyzing existing student performance data and benchmarking it against publicly available data to determine learning outcomes. He also will review existing research and conduct a series of qualitative customer interviews and quantitative customer surveys to better understand why some parents send their children to APEC while others don’t.


Carissa De Young, Ross School of Business/School of Natural Resources and Environment
Organization: Shared-X
Country: Peru

Shared-X is a for-profit, startup social impact business in its first year of operation. It works to lift thousands of farmers out of extreme poverty by deploying advanced farming techniques on highly productive land to close the agricultural yield gap between developed and developing nations. Through the direct sale of specialty crops to international markets, Shared-X provides social, environmental, and economic benefits to local farming communities and generates strong returns for shareholders. Shared-X operates test farms that demonstrate best farming practices and secure contracts for its crops. It then expands access to its technology and markets to smallholder farmers in surrounding communities.

De Young  will design a strategy to measure, communicate, and expand the social impact of Shared-X’s model of engagement with smallholder farmers. She will identify and measure impact by conducting interviews with stakeholders and experts ranging from current and potential future cooperative members, Shared-X personnel, and leaders in similar companies. She will then compare her findings with industry best practices to create a proposal for key performance indicators.

De Young also will identify a pathway to continue replicating the Shared-X model with additional smallholder farmers in other regions where Shared-X farms exist.


Elisabeth Michel, School of Public Health
Organization: The Ihangane Project (TIP)
Country: Rwanda

TIP empowers local communities to develop sustainable, effective, and patient-centered health care delivery systems that holistically respond to the needs of vulnerable populations. It envisions a world in which quality health care leads to healthy, inclusive, and empowered communities. TIP has been working with Ruli District Hospital in Rwanda and its seven associated health centers to determine key strategies for improving health outcomes within the community.

Michel will facilitate a successful hospital retreat that creates a shared vision of high-quality and patient-centered health care at Ruli, and includes an implementable framework for decision-making and problem solving. She also will help the hospital staff implement recommendations that come from the retreat.


Dilparinder Singh, Ross School of Business
Organization: PATH
Countries: India and Ethiopia

PATH is a Seattle-based international, nonprofit health organization that creates sustainable, culturally relevant solutions, enabling communities worldwide to break long-standing cycles of poor health. PATH is one of many global health organizations working with countries to reduce malaria deaths.

Singh will work with PATH to conduct a market landscape of current malaria testing and treatment algorithms in Ethiopia.  He also will work with PATH’s India Innovation Hub, which encourages innovative approaches to healthcare.

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