Summer Internship in Hawai’i: Impact Investing to Benefit Island Life

Posted on Wed, July 10, 2013 by CBAS Fellow.

by Rashmi Khare T'14, Center for Business & Society MBA Fellow   

Aloha from Hawai‘i! My summer internship is with the Ulupono Initiative, a Hawai‘i-focused impact investing firm that uses for-profit and non-profit investments to improve the quality of life for island residents in three areas: locally produced food; clean, renewable energy; and waste reduction.

One of the projects I am working on this summer involves understanding the water supply and demand landscape, with a focus on agriculture. I am creating a systems map that details different components of this landscape, from climate (remember the water cycle from grade school?) to public policy. Hawai‘i is the world’s most remote populated group of islands, so it's critical to get water allocation right. With its focus on locally produced food, the Ulupono Initiative needs to understand the stress points and influence levers across the full water allocation system, from when and where the rainwater falls to how the price of bottled water influences consumer behavior. The team can then use this understanding to better assess agriculture investments and statewide initiatives. I'm enjoying the opportunity to think about the big picture, learn about the public policy history and structure in Hawai‘i, and develop a framework that the Ulupono Initiative will be able to use once I head back to Hanover.

And I get to live in Hawai‘i for the summer! I was lucky enough to score an apartment in the Waikiki area of Honolulu, so I am very close to stores, restaurants, and the world-famous Waikiki beach. I am taking advantage of the inter-island flights – I went out to the Big Island last weekend to visit the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and will head out to Maui this coming weekend. Having spent my entire life in the New England area, there is a very distinct difference in the pace of life out here. It is impossible to be in a rush, especially against the backdrop of such pleasant weather and gorgeous scenery.

Here is a picture I took of Diamond Head – I’m still getting used to these kinds of views!