Project HMC - an MBA Student's Journey to Uganda

Two Full-time UST MBA students recently returned from a J-term Study Abroad trip to Uganda. Not your typical MBA study abroad experience, we wanted to share some of the experience, from their Project HMC blog. Why, exactly, we are going to Africa (a question we have been asked many-a-times), started this way.

A series of fabulous opportunities and support from great people at the University of St. Thomas joined forces to start the ball rolling on this project:

  1. Two 2nd year MBA students went to Mali, Africa last year during January on a grant, but when the grant ran out, so did the possibility for another trip this year... or so we thought
  2. Students had been working on projects for a medical clinic in Africa through Net Impact, a local chapter of a national MBA organization
  3. Faculty and staff at UST are extremely supportive of student initiatives, all it takes is initiative--and lots of meetings.

With these three pieces of information under our belt, Sean and I began navigating how we could go to Uganda to work with Hope Medical Clinics. With the tremendous support of our "champion" Ann Johnson, Director of the UST Center for Nonprofit Management, we set up an independent study class, found a faculty advisor, applied for grants, secured some funding, and planned the project and trip.

After many iterations of what would be most helpful to the clinics at this time, we settled on compiling a situation analysis of the clinics addressing some of the key challenges they are facing. Upon our return we will work with the Hope Medical Clinics board of directors and a group of executive MBA students to create a strategic plan addressing HMC's goal of expanding from 2 clinics to their goal of 400. During our time in Uganda, Sean, Ann, and I will observe, interview, inquire about, and analyze many aspects of the clinics. We will also attempt to better understand the cultural implications on running a nonprofit and how that should impact the strategic plan.

The content above is from before the team left the U.S. What follows are some impressions on their work with the clinic:

Throughout our two weeks, we spent quite a few days at the Kasubi clinic, and one day at the rural Ndejje clinic. We conducted 1 on 1 interviews with staff and led a marathon brainstorm at the Kasubi clinic. There were so many cultural implications on the way the clinics operate, that I felt the time we spent with families and going around Kampala was extremely useful to any recommendations we could make.

We concluded our time in Uganda by compiling a situation analysis of all aspects of the clinic & the environment in which it operates. We narrowed down to 4 areas of recommendation, and promised a lot of deliverables we now need to create!

Kudos to Charles and his staff for their great work. After visiting the free government clinic and a private clinic in the area, we truly understood the need for Hope Medical Clinics Uganda & hope we can help them continue to provide their services and expand to improve health care standards across Uganda!

It is great to see the reach of the UST MBA, moving beyond "typical" business cases and into real-world challenges like this.