Research Travel Program: Blue Ventures FYP, Madagascar - 3/13/13

Posted on Mon, March 25, 2013 by Carole Gaudet.

Five T’14s are conducting an operational effectiveness study on sustainable sea cucumber and sea weed farms with Center for Business & Society support for an academic course, the First-Year Project (FYP).

A week ago we weren’t sure if our Spring Break plans would work out – a cyclone had struck Tulear, in South West Madagascar, that happened to be exactly where we needed to be for our First Year Project (FYP). But here we are. Three flights (NYC, Johannesburg, Antananarivo, Tulear) and over forty eight hours later, we’re in the tropics. Five T’14s – Meg Nunn, Hilary Ferro, Rashmi Khare, Evgeny Gonokhin and I are conducting an operational effectiveness study on sustainable sea cucumber and sea weed farms. Classic MBA. The client, Blue Ventures, is a leading NGO that works on developing the livelihoods of isolated communities in Belize and Madagascar and engaging these communities in activities that conserve local marine environments.

How did it come to this? The short answer is somewhat randomly. I met a Blue Ventures board member at a conference in early 2012 and was immediately intrigued by the work they did (because I’m interested in the nexus of conservation and economic development). Several long distance scoping calls between the Center for Business & Society, the FYP office and the Blue Ventures team in Madagascar, and we had a project in the pipeline. The rest was history.

We arrived in Antananarivo (the capital, abbreviated to Tana), checked into our hotel and a short while later headed to the center of town to meet a T’97 (and Madagascar’s only Tuckie!) for dinner. Community runs deep at Tuck – Haingo was thrilled to see Tuck engaged in Madagascar’s community, and was eager to introduce us to other organizations involved in similar activities to Blue Ventures’ (look out, T’15s! You might be here next).

We left for Tulear early this morning and met our clients, Antoine and Minnie, for lunch – we’re headed to the Blue Ventures office to discuss the way forward soon, but this is starting to look like the experience of a lifetime. Tomorrow, we head to the sea cucumber farms – for a midnight harvest. Stay tuned!