Tasked with solving unique challenges halfway around the world, nine Fisher undergraduate students had the opportunity to put their business skills to work on two social impact projects.

The students were part of Fisher’s Global Projects Program (GPP) and traveled to India and Nepal in May to spend a month working as consultants.

Hanna Atiyeh (marketing), Veronica Groebner (finance), Elizabeth Navarre (finance), Adela Pang (finance) and Joe Wimer (finance) traveled to Jaisalmer, India, where they worked with local agencies on a plan to preserve the city’s fort as a historical and cultural monument while increasing tourism and centralizing the fort’s many managers.

In Nepal, Troy Fritzhand (finance), Takashi Ohkura (finance/economics), Qarina Raissa-Vashti (logistics/marketing), Chris Schmitt (logistics/operations) and Gabrielle Trexler (marketing) partnered with Aatmiya, a Nepali social enterprise organization that works to empower women, to increase employment for its female workers.

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Members of the Global Projects Program team in Nepal meet with workers representing the team's client, Aatmiya.

“These projects, while wildly different in focus and scope, were perfect opportunities for our students to put their various business skills and tools to work to provide sound recommendations for our partners in India and Nepal,” said Heidi Eldred, GPP course faculty member at Fisher and faculty advisor in Nepal and India. “It’s critical for our students to see how business skills and insights cultivated in a classroom in Columbus can and should be put to use at a company or organization somewhere in the world outside the U.S.

"This global business perspective partnered with an immersive cultural experience is incredibly important. Not only do these students become much more valuable to future employers, but they also gain the foundation that will enable them to grow into the next generation of world leaders.”

Just as consultants face unexpected hurdles, the Jaisalmer team discovered that the scope of its project was hamstrung largely by a number of engineering challenges. The group adapted and presented to its client, Crown Prince Chaitanya Raj Singh, a plan focused on raising awareness and funding for Jaisalmer Fort’s engineering issues.

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Members of the Jaisalmer team inspect the Jaisalmer Fort as part of Fisher's Global Projects Program.

“The scope of our project was very broad to begin with, and my team was working with a lot of unknowns and uncertainties,” said Adela Pang. “We had to be able to dissect the most pressing issue facing Jaisalmer with limited information. In order to get a better idea of what we were working with, we interviewed many locals and communicated well with one another.

“It was important to be able to adapt, especially if you’re placed in a situation that isn’t your stereotypical experience or what you expected. We had to be flexible when things didn’t go as anticipated and plans changed.”

Read about the Jaisalmer team's experience

In Nepal, the Fisher team had to adjust its strategy and perspective from for-profit business to that of Aatmiya, a nonprofit organization, Chris Schmitt said.

“While a traditional business may be more focused on profits or creating shareholder value, working for a social enterprise or nonprofit was more focused on developing jobs for underprivileged individuals,” he said. “With this in mind, as a student, I had to change my way of thinking from the top down, while applying the skills I gained in my coursework to develop solutions and ultimately reshape the strategy of current operations.”

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Members of the GPP team in Nepal pose for a photo.

The team ultimately presented Aatmiya with a branding and standardization plan for its hand-knitted products. Included in the plan were deliverables such as optimizing the organization’s website, increasing its social media footprint, standardizing procurement and cost analysis processes, and creating a fair trade-certified brand.

Read about the Nepal team's experience

“I gained so many valuable insights as part of this project,” Schmitt said. “When entering a new international market, it is very important to get a first-hand view of the country and gain an understanding of the culture. This experience also piqued my interest in global opportunities as I enter the workforce. The experience was so enriching in that I learned about so many characteristics of business and culture in Nepal and India.

“I will forever hold on to this experience fondly as I move forward in my career and welcome more international opportunities in the future.”

The students’ GPP experiences were made possible, in part, thanks to the Connor Family Scholars Fund given by Chris and Sara Connor.

“I’m very grateful that I was accepted to be a part of this program,” Pang said. “I met some amazing people and had incredible experiences that I couldn’t have had anywhere else. This trip has helped me grow in many areas and refined my understanding of the areas I need to improve. I feel fortunate to have had such an experience.”

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Members of Jaisalmer GPP team represent Ohio State.