Monday, March 05, 2007 and Project Pyramid

In January I posted about a group of students at Vanderbilt University who had formed a blog ( to provide an uncensored, unedited look at the lives of MBA and MSF students.

I've corresponded with many of the OwenBloggers, and I really dig their attempt at transparency from within the walls of the Owen Graduate School of Management.

One of the students that I've connected with is Nat Robinson. He recently emailed me to inform me of their latest endeavor, Project Pyramid. Lest we think MBA students are only in it for the money, think again.

In the spring of 2006, 11 MBA students and one faculty member from Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management read the book: The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid by C.K. Prahalad. Using this book as a model, the student group developed the plan for an organization dedicated to Global Poverty Alleviation.

During this development process, Vanderbilt University Alumnus Muhammad Yunus received the Nobel Peace Prize for founding the Grameen Bank, a Microfinance institution based out of Bangladesh. Taking the model they had developed, the group approached Cal Turner to support the launch of the organization.

Mr. Turner pledged his total support for the program and thus, Project Pyramid was born.

As a result, Nat Robinson and 24 other Vanderbilt University grad students and faculty members left for Dubai and Hyderabad, India. For the past 7 weeks, prior to the trip, the students were enrolled in a course which focused on new trends in poverty alleviation. Specifically, the class analyzed Microfinance, Supply Chain Management, Marketing, and Innovation as case topics.

Their goal is to take their theoretical learning and directly apply it in India as they study Hyderabad and work to develop new business concepts to aid in alleviating poverty in India.

Each year, the leaders of Project Pyramid will choose new cities and countries for the study.
But for now, Nat Robinson and colleagues have left the comfort of the dorm to try and make a difference against poverty (bet the dorm never looked so good, eh Nat?).

I applaud your efforts, students and faculty. Your time abroad will provide a deeper, richer education than you can imagine. And the lasting value of your time in Dubai and Hyderabad will be shared by those who worked with you, from the bottom up, in your fight against global poverty.

You can check in on the students and faculty at their Project Pyramid blog HERE. You can even see their own version of a homemade pyramid, HERE.

Godspeed, OwenBloggers.

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