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Thunderbird School of Global Management’s TEM Lab program has partnered with the Exxon Mobil Corporation, Ashoka’s Changemakers, and the International Council for Research on Women (ICRW) to help bring technology to women in the developing world.
The TEM Lab partnership is part of a $1 million commitment that ExxonMobil made at the Clinton Global Initiative this week to invest in the expansion of high impact, sustainable technologies that advance women economically. Thunderbird MBA students participating in the TEM Lab program will serve as business consultants to three of the grantee organizations, which include Kopernik, Solar Electric Light Fund, Solar Sister, Productive Agricultural Linkages and Marketing Systems (P.A.L.M.S) and smallsolutions. These organizations were identified as innovators by ExxonMobil and Ashoka as a result of the Women | Tools | Technology: Building Opportunities & Economic Power Challenge, launched at last year’s CGI.
“TEM Lab will add business expertise to the projects, increasing their ability to scale up and, in some cases, develop sustainable cash flows,” said Thunderbird professor Dr. Michael Finney, who leads the TEM Lab program. “This means that, ultimately, more people will experience a higher quality of life because of the innovations that these visionaries are implementing. This partnership also allows TEM Lab to extend the reach of our students into emerging markets around the world and furthers the school’s objective of educating leaders committed to creating sustainable prosperity worldwide.”
TEM Lab is a capstone honors course offering students an opportunity to apply the full range of professional skills they have acquired during their studies at Thunderbird. Teams of student consultants spend five to six weeks in the field working directly with a client organization in an emerging market. Now in its second year, TEM Lab teams have worked with businesses in Rwanda, Albania, Peru and Vietnam.
“Thunderbird students not only bring business skills to the table, but they also posses intercultural and soft skills that allow them to be successful in dynamic, emerging market situations where the business culture might be far from what traditional executives are able to adapt to,” said TEM Lab program manager Charles Reeves. “Those skills are of crucial importance to the Women, Tools and Technology initiative because its entire purpose is to bring technology innovations to rural, underserved communities largely in Africa.”
ExxonMobil has been committed to supporting projects that use technology to improve the lives of women in developing countries, said Suzanne M. McCarron, general manager, ExxonMobil public and government affairs. The program announced this week is expected to directly benefit more than 13,500 people, with indirect benefits reaching more than 475,000 in the next two years.
A significant barrier to economic advancement is a lack of access to energy. An estimated 1.6 billion people in the world have no access to electricity and approximately 2.4 billion rely on biomass fuels like wood, charcoal, or dung for cooking and heating. This undermines the productivity, education, health and safety of these people - 70 percent of whom are women and girls.