Evaluating a microenterprise project linked to healthcare in Uganda

Dateline: Mid-March 2012
Location: MIT Sloan
by Marisa Gerla & Mary Anito

Our ghdLab project has officially kicked-off and we’re starting to get a better idea of what we will be focusing on.  This semester we will we working with the Sustainable Housing Initiative Project, or SHIP, in Mbarara, Uganda, which is a partnership with MGH here in Boston. SHIP’s goal is to help create microenterprise opportunities for patients to help offset the cost of their treatment, be it for drugs, transportation, or other related healthcare expenses.

Photo from: “Broiler Management Guide”, Cobbs, 2010

ghdLab has been working with SHIP over the last years on a few business ideas and this year we will be looking into the poultry microenterprise business.  SHIP has already launched a pilot program with layers(a chicken which lays eggs that can then be sold into the market).  Program participants purchase laying chicks from the project organizer, as well as materials for the coop and feed for the chicks to support them through their first six months before the chickens start laying eggs.  After the six-month laying incubation period, the chickens can then go on to lay eggs for around 17 months before they are typically sold for their meat.

In an effort to help SHIP expand for the future, this year our project will take a look at two important questions:

  • In addition to the layer model, how could the broiler (a chicken which is raised for its meat to be sold into the market) model fit into SHIP’s objectives?
  • Given the high start up costs and current profit model, what is a realistic loan repayment plan?

After the kick-off meeting with our client team at MGH and SHIP we have started some preliminary research, talking to others who have launched similar projects in Africa as well as teams who have previously worked with SHIP.  Given our team’s experience with microenterprises, micro financing, as well as operations and supply chain, this should be a fun project for us to take on this semester!  Looking forward to our trip to Africa in a couple of weeks!

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