WDI’s 2019 Year In Review


“These relationships flow both ways: faculty turn to us for help in their work and we will incorporate them in specific projects we are working on. Our work increasingly integrates our expertise between sectors within WDI as well as with the expertise across the university.”


—Paul Clyde, President of WDI

WDI teams of staff and/or students worked on nearly 50 projects in more than 30 countries in 2019. Our work focused on our core consulting sectors – education, energy, finance and healthcare, as well as our management education programs, entrepreneurship development, measurement and evaluation services and the deployment of University of Michigan graduate students around the world. In the course of the year, WDI worked with faculty and researchers at the U-M Ross School of Business, the Zell Lurie Institute, Law School, the School of Public Health, the College of Engineering, the School of Nursing, the College of Literature, Science and Arts, School of Education, College of Pharmacy, Medical School, Kellogg Eye Center, School of Information, and the School of Environment and Sustainability.

“Our work capitalizes on the expertise of our staff as well as the expertise across campus,” said WDI President Paul Clyde. “Over the past 12 months we have worked with 30 faculty and many students from Ross but also students and/or faculty from a number of other schools within U-M. These relationships flow both ways: faculty turn to us for help in their work and we will incorporate them in specific projects we are working on. Our work increasingly integrates our expertise between sectors within WDI as well as with the expertise across the university.”

Here is a closer look at some highlights from 2019:


The Education consulting sector and its Entrepreneurship Development Center (EDC) continued its work on the LIFE Project, which supports refugees in Turkey as they become entrepreneurs in the food sector. In July, WDI staff members Amy Gillett and Kristin Kelterborn and faculty affiliate Eric Fretz visited the Turkish cities of Istanbul and Mersin. Watch a narrated slideshow below of their trip that details the work they did while there and the program graduates they met. Gillett and Kelterborn also wrote an article for WDI’s affiliated NextBillion website on how to accelerate the success of refugee entrepreneurs. 

Building off the success of its M2GATE Program (for more on the program, watch a video below here), WDI’s Education sector is facilitating a new virtual exchange course at the U-M Ross School of Business. Read about Business & Culture: A Virtual Practicum here. And read a WDI Impact Report on virtual exchange written in March. 

The Education team also delivered another successful leadership workshop for NGOs in Central and Eastern Europe. Watch an entertaining and informative video on the latest workshop here. The next NGO workshop will take place in May 2020 in Warsaw, Poland. 


WDI’s Energy consulting sector, established formally in 2018, explored the hot topic of renewable mini-grids to increase energy access. Specifically, the energy team is beginning to work with local partners in the Bagladeshi village of Bagdumur to determine the viability of a mini-grid there. In early 2019, WDI also deployed graduate students from the U-M’s School for Environment and Sustainability to study how energy enterprises in India and Uganda perform and how best to document it. 


WDI’s Healthcare consulting sector team members Michael Krautmann and Ben Davis traveled to Tanzania for a U.S. Agency for International Development project to help strengthen that country’s health supply chain systems. Krautmann also sat down for a Q&A about his supply chain work at WDI, and Healthcare sector faculty affiliate Ari Schwayder answered five questions about his favorite health projects to work on. 

WDI’s Healthcare team also conducted a project with the Linked Foundation to inform social enterprise, med-tech, digital health, and private sector investment in Latin America. The Foundation seeks to identify market-based, impact investment opportunities specific to women’s health in Latin America, based on an integrated assessment of the major unmet needs in combination with identification of high-impact solutions and opportunities to foster the enterprise ecosystem and sustainable women’s health solutions. WDI developed an analytic methodology, conducted a landscaping study for Colombia and Peru, and will be publishing the report in January 2020. WDI and the Linked Foundation also had the opportunity to present project findings at four conference settings in the U.S. and Latin America in fall 2019. Linked anticipates this work will inform their investment strategy and catalyze additional resources to the most-needed areas in women’s health in Latin America.

WDI President Paul Clyde wrote an article exploring the profit potential for health care companies in low- and middle-income countries. 

WDI Vice President  for Healthcare Pascale Leroueil continued her work helping global health organizations such as Global Fund, Gavi and WHO to increase the impact of their investments.

At the beginning of 2019, WDI Vice President of Administration Claire Hogikyan traveled to Ethiopia as the first phase of work to help that country find a sustainable solution to its medical waste problem. Her trip led to the deployment of a team of Ross School graduate students a couple of months later. They developed a proposal that was presented to government officials by an organization that plans to begin operations in early 2020 of a medical waste incinerator outside Addis Ababa. 


WDI’s Finance consulting sector partnered with the Ross School of Business and Professor Gautam Kaul on a first-of-its-kind curriculum-based, student-run international investment fund.  

The Finance sector team also partnered with Awash Bank in Ethiopia to study a remittance program to increase peoples’ access to capital. How the program would work is explained in this infographic and in this concept note

Performance Measurement & Improvement

In 2019, the Performance Measurement & Improvement (PMI) team continued work on several ongoing projects, including whether developmental evaluation works in a USAID context and using impact data to develop strategies to increase engagement of women in Colombia’s coffee sector. PMI Senior Research Associate Rebecca Baylor also shared her views in an article exploring whether developmental evaluation is an appropriate assessment strategy

PMI also collaborated with other WDI consulting sectors such as Education, Energy and Healthcare to provide assessment services on their projects, including evaluating the impact of the Business and Culture course. Working alongside the PMI team on that project is WDI Faculty Affiliate Andy Grogan-Kaylor. Read a Q&A about his work and why he enjoys collaborating with the PMI team

The PMI team also attended several conference proceedings in the impact measurement field and often spoke on panels and roundtables about their work. They led several discussions at the November 2019 American Evaluation Association annual conference. After attending and moderating a discussion at a global metrics conference, Baylor wrote about what is being done to incorporate gender equality into the impact measurement space.

Student Opportunities

The past year featured several opportunities for University of Michigan students to participate in WDI-sponsored projects. In all, 76 U-M students traveled abroad for WDI work. 

Occasionally, students may participate in multiple WDI-sponsored projects. To reward these hard-working, committed students, WDI established the Davidson Field Scholar program. There are currently nine students who have earned this honor

WDI sponsored 11 Multidisciplinary Action Project (MAP) teams in 2019, and deployed five teams to five countries to study ways to improve healthcare delivery there. One MAP team member who worked in Rwanda recorded her thoughts about the project for a narrated slideshow. (See below).

And we also caught up with a couple of former students – one in South Korea and the other in India – who participated in WDI student projects to see how working on these projects impacted their career paths. 

“While I knew it would serve as a useful resource, I did not realize just how helpful the Institute would be until I got to Ross and started interacting with the staff and professors associated with WDI,” Puneet Goenka, WDI alumnus said.

And as part of the WDI Global Impact Speaker Series, the Institute hosted four guest speakers – Sally Stephens of Medicines360; Tami Kesselman of Aligned Investing Global; Ujjwal Kumar of Honeywell and Efosa Ojomo of the Clayton Christensen Institute. Watch an interview with Stephens here; an interview with Kesselman here; and watch Ojomo’s talk here.




In 2019, Awash Bank in partnership with WDI explored the development of a program that leveraged remittances as both collateral for the loan and information about the borrower. By allowing the borrower to develop a credit rating, remittances can increase access to capital for SMEs at a reasonable rate.  In 2020, Awash Bank formally created the loan product and published a procedure manual. Efforts are underway to market this loan product in Ethiopia and with the diaspora community in the US.

The Ethiopian diaspora living in the United States have a strong motivation to engage with their homeland. However, they lack information on how to invest and what specifically to invest in. The Ethiopian diaspora are investing in the Ethiopian economy and,  if properly engaged, may be willing to invest more and more productively. This Multidisciplinary Action Project (MAP) helped an Ethiopian bank identify the best ways to capitalize on the investment interests of Ethiopians living in the United States through various diaspora financial products. The project focused upon ways to increase diaspora investment with the goals of increasing access to capital for the SMEs. Through both primary and secondary research, the project involved extensive information gathering around the needs and desires of Ethiopian diaspora living in the U.S. and the state of Ethiopian economy with focus on the banking environment, credit market and state of SME funding. Based on market research, the student MAP team recommended two financial products and two implementation strategies for the bank  to penetrate the diaspora marketplace.

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