WDI Interns Prep for Diverse, International Assignments

Thursday, June 1, 2017

2015 WDI summer intern Julio Villasenor poses with some Rwandan children. This summer, WDI continues its long partnership with The Ihangane Project at Ruli District Hospital in Rwanda by sending summer intern Nana Asare there for a project. 

2015 WDI summer intern Julio Villasenor poses with some Rwandan children. This summer, WDI continues its long partnership with The Ihangane Project at Ruli District Hospital in Rwanda by sending summer intern Nana Asare there for a project.

Six University of Michigan students representing four schools and colleges will spend the summer abroad working as WDI Global Impact Fellows, tasked with formulating a strategic plan, streamlining supply chains, evaluating program impacts, empowering entrepreneurship, developing financial models, and creating a new business model.

The students represent the Ross School of Business, the Ford School of Public Policy, the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE), and Health Informatics, a joint program of the School of Information and the School of Public Health. They will work in Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Mexico, Rwanda, and Sri Lanka, and support the work of WDI initiatives in Healthcare, Performance Measurement, and Scaling Impact.  

Five of the six summer internship projects were developed by WDI along with its partners. Two organizations – Grace Care Center and the Ihangane Project – are longtime partners with WDI and have sponsored student projects, both internships and Multidisciplinary Action Projects (MAPs), for several years. The work done by the summer interns at these organizations is building on previous projects performed by MAP teams, students in a travel-study course and previous interns all sponsored by WDI.

WDI also supports graduate students who source their own internship projects based on their educational, personal, and career interests provided that the work fall within one of the Institute’s research focus areas. One intern this year, Julia Entwistle, worked with the leadership at ADHENO, a non-profit focused on extreme poverty in Ethiopia, to define the scope of work for her project, then submitted a proposal to WDI for funding.

Entwistle has worked with WDI’s Performance Measurement Initiative (PMI) as she prepares to evaluate the impact of ADHENO’s environmental restoration and economic empowerment programs that operate in the Northern Shewa province of Ethiopia. PMI provided multiple rounds of feedback on the survey Entwistle has developed to conduct the impact assessment this summer.

“PMI hopes that the project will lead to new measurement-related learnings, especially related to environmental metrics and assessment,” said Heather Esper, senior program manager of the initiative. “PMI also is hopeful this work may lead to possible future collaborations with the organizations involved, including SNRE faculty.”

Here are the interns and their projects:


Nana Asare

Ford School of Public Policy

The Ihangane Project (TIP)

Ruli, Rwanda

The Ihangane Project (TIP) empowers local communities to develop sustainable, effective, and patient-centered health care delivery systems that holistically respond to the needs of vulnerable populations. Partnering with Ruli District Hospital and its associated health centers, TIP is working to identify key strategies for improving health outcomes.

Since 2009, TIP has worked with WDI and the Ross School of Business to find ways to improve Ruli’s communication flow, cost-effectiveness, and financial sustainability. In winter 2016, Ross students worked with Ruli and TIP to develop a problem-solving framework designed to encourage hospital staff to proactively address challenges at the hospital. The students also created a curriculum and agenda for presenting this framework to staff members during a hospital retreat. That summer, a WDI summer intern helped Ruli and TIP successfully conduct the retreat.  

Ruli has now turned its attention to formulating a strategic plan that reflects the priorities of the hospital and community, while also addressing the requirements of the Rwanda Ministry of Health. This past winter, Ross students created a framework for a  hospital staff to use in developing a strategic plan during a retreat.

Asare will support the hospital staff to ensure a successful summer retreat. He also will help implement recommendations developed at the retreat, create a roadmap that can build upon the strategic plan developed at the retreat that will guide future projects, and evaluate the effectiveness of the retreat.


Karen Cuenca

Ford School of Public Policy

Value for Women, Ltd.

Mexico City, Mexico

Value for Women (VFW) is a UK-based social enterprise operating in Latin America, Africa, and Asia that works with partners to improve gender and social inclusion. Their specialists provide tailored technical assistance and capacity-building expertise to impact investors, banks, multinational companies, and NGOs, to deepen the inclusion dimension of their business models, value chains, programs, and products and services.

With supply chains in the agriculture sector increasingly under strain, the inclusion of women is critical, and smallholder farmer associations and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have an opportunity to strengthen their role as suppliers to corporate entities.

Cuenca will conduct a situational analysis to understand and assess the current position of women in agriculture supply chains in Mexico, and recommend opportunities for improving gender inclusion in agriculture organizations and supply chains in Mexico.


Ann Duong

Health Informatics

Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD)

Nairobi, Kenya and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia  


Bangalore, India

Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD) is a global medical technology company working to improve medical discovery, diagnostics, and the delivery of care. BD actively engages with the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to improve overall laboratory systems and services in African countries severely affected by HIV/AIDS and TB. This initiative is a public-private partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Ministries of Health in Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, and Uganda.

Through both field-based and domestic work, Duong will be supporting implementation of the technical impact evaluation of the BD-PEPFAR program, Labs For Life: Strengthening Laboratory Systems in Developing Countries.

Following this project, Duong will travel to Bangalore, India for a short project with iSPIRT, a software product think tank that has been working with numerous start-ups in the development of IndiaStack. IndiaStack is an exciting set of technologies governments, businesses, and others utilize a digital infrastructure, creating a paperless and cashless service delivery model that is being integrated into India’s economy.

Duong will work with iSPIRT to connect and study various companies and start-ups that are utilizing IndiaStack’s APIs. After returning to Michigan, she will analyze this information in order to generate key insights into how stack technology can be used to enhance healthcare access and delivery.


Julia Entwistle

School of Natural Resources and Environment


Addis Ababa and Debre Berhan, Ethiopia

ADHENO implements various environmental restoration programs such as tree planting to slow the desertification process, soil protection measures such as terracing, and improving agricultural resilience through irrigation, water conservation, and crop diversification, to combat environmental degradation that negatively impacts agricultural productivity and revenue in Ethiopia. The organization also operates economic empowerment projects to support microenterprises such as beekeeping, animal rearing, basket weaving, and traditional spice processing to diversify the economy and include women in the workforce.

Entwistle will conduct an impact evaluation of ADHENO’s environmental restoration and economic empowerment programs that operate in the Northern Shewa province of Ethiopia. The organization wants a comprehensive evaluation of its work before rolling out the programs to more rural sub-districts in Ethiopia.


Danielle Wilkins

School of Natural Resources and Environment

Grace Care Center

Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

The Grace Care Center (GCC) is a home to about 70 orphaned children that offers daycare services and vocational training. It also is home to several poor and displaced seniors, many of whom have chronic health issues such as hypertension and diabetes.

Based on past work by MBA student teams from the Ross School of Business, GCC developed a diabetic care center model.  Trained para professionals acquire data relevant to diabetes, which are sent to the University of Michigan to be tabulated and analyzed to segregate patients into risk categories. The medical data from 100 diabetes patients have been monitored and analyzed for the past five months.

A long-term, sustainable economic model needs to be developed and then subjected to a pilot test to ensure that the model has taken into account all the parameters. The end goal is a successful economic model that could be replicated in other parts of the country.

Wilkins will build upon the past work of her fellow U-M students to identify and develop a pricing strategy, build an economic model (subscription vs. government funded), and set up the pilot to test the chosen model.


Tim Yuan

Ross School of Business

Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan

Kumasi, Ghana

One of the applied projects in the Department of Mechanical Engineering’s lab is a solar e-trailer in collaboration with Pratt and Miller Engineering. The overarching goal is to demonstrate that transportation services enabled by affordable, low-speed, solar-powered electric vehicles (EVs) can improve the quality of life of the residents in the villages in Africa and the other developing countries. In 2016, a working prototype of a solar bicycle e-trailer was developed along with a preliminary business model.

Yuan will develop a market-entry strategy for the integrated transportation, electricity charging, and usage data collection services provided by solar bicycle e-Trailers (or similar small-sized solar EVs). He also will build a sustainable business model for manufacturing, distributing, and leasing such vehicles in villages and cities in Ghana.



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