Portland Trek: MBA Students Head North for Nonprofit Insights from Nike, Mercy Corps

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By Guest Blogger Andrew Lee, MBA 15

Last month three Berkeley MBA students trekked to Portland, Oregon, as part of a Net Impact visit to the Rose City. Nick Wobbrock and Andrew Lee, both MBA 15, and evening and weekend student Vishal Kudchadkar, MBA 14, were eager to gain insights from contacts at the Nike Foundation and Mercy Corps. Additionally, the Berkeley MBAs invited the local Portland State University MBA Net Impact chapter to join us. In total, 10 individuals joined our visits.

At the Nike Foundation the group first took a campus tour. Lush and perfectly manicured sports fields surrounded us. Afterward we heard from Julie Addicott, a member of the foundation’s Global Communications team. She detailed the foundation’s main initiative, strengthening the “girl effect.” This is the powerful belief that adolescent girls are the key to ending the cycle of generational poverty in Africa. If you can change the course of a girl’s life at age 12, educate her, and prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, you can remake a continent. Much of the foundation’s efforts over the past decade have focused on driving resources to this agenda and getting the word out. Moving forward, the foundation plans to incorporate more initiatives that utilize Nike Inc.’s core competencies of storytelling, much like the Ethiopian radio drama the Foundation backed (http://www.girleffect.org/explore/creating-change-for-ethiopian-girls/girl-hub-ethiopia-yegna-behaviour-change/).

Following a quick lunch and commute from Beaverton, where Nike is located, to downtown Portland, the group visited Mercy Corps, an international development organization that saves and improves lives in the world’s toughest places. We heard from the social ventures and also market development teams. They provided an interesting perspective on international development because both teams employ market-based approaches, which is different than the traditional, and unsustainable, charity model of international development.

At the end of the day we reconvened with the PSU MBAs and Mercy Corps folks for a happy hour at the Thirsty Lion pub. A wonderful visit to the Pacific Northwest!

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