We are SIMilili, a student-led initiative supported by SIMagination Challenge, striving to empower children by making sustainable education a reality in Kimilili through CBSM. Our team is formed by 8 motivated SIM master students (M.A. Strategy and International Management) from University of St. Gallen, eager to leverage our different capabilities and business knowledge to make a positive impact to the world.
Before the trip: Define the goal
Based on the substantial input from School4Life, our analysis of Kimilili’s school’s status quo revealed that the high dependency on external contributions represents one of the school’s most pressing issues. This dependence results in a low sustainability of the school’s activities, as any shortages in donations would have a detrimental impact on the school’s operations. Together with Agnes Ellis from School4Life, we identified the Lunch Program as a main cost driver for CBSM and took ownership of the mission to reduce the costs associated with it. Consequently, we pondered the following question:
How to decrease the expenditure of Lunch Program? Solving this problem turned out to be the imperative of our project. After numerous in-group discussions as well as on- and offline meetings with Agnes and other external stakeholders, we finally concluded with two potential solutions, namely purchasing land to grow the food or leasing land to grow the food and building a storehouse to optimize the procurement system. In the meantime, we concentrated our efforts on raising funds for either the land or the storage unit via bake sales in St. Gallen & Winterthur, a crowdfunding initiative, asking friends and family and some corporate fundraising.
On the ground: Make it happen
With a clear goal of improving the Lunch Program, eight of us traveled to Kimilili in February 2018 to make it happen. After discussing with the local agricultural experts, we realized that leasing land and building up a storehouse are impractical due to risks attached to bulk purchasing of crop. Eventually, we decided to purchase land. In order to numerically illustrate the impact, we came out with a detailed monthly business plan including the current status quo, the potential scenarios and the savings options according to each scenario. In the meantime, the local team worked hard to look for the available land around the town.
Besides working on the project, we proactively approached the principal to teach the students on math, business, geography and even origami for elementary school. We also tried to spend as much as possible with the kids during their break. We were delighted to see how happy they were when we were playing with them. In the meantime, their smiles and giggles made our days as well.
After the trip: Make an impact
In consequence, we successfully provided funds that have been used to buy an acre of land for CBSM. The land will be used to grow vegetables in order to not only reduce the expenditure for food, but also enrich the nutrition of students’ diet. The local ownership of the land will foster independence from donations and, meanwhile, bring about the refocus on the improvement of education. We are confident that the consequences of our purchasing project will have a sustainable impact on the students, the school and the community.
The two-week trip in Kimilili was a memorable experience for the whole SIMilili team. We will pass our project on to the next generation and keep SIMilili’s story going. Asante Sana for the help from Patricia, School4Life, the local team and all of the donors.