Project Pyramid started in 2006, and since then, it has brought together Vanderbilt students from multiple disciplines to engage meaningfully with socially conscious organizations across the globe. An interdisciplinary, student-led program that uses in-classroom and hands-on learning experiences to examine the causes and symptoms of global poverty, addressing the innovative and entrepreneurial ways organizations attempt to alleviate poverty. Seeking to establish market-driven solutions that help fulfill the missions of those organizations.
This Spring ’23, students had the opportunity to work with organizations from Antigua, Guatemala, traveling there during Spring break to meet their clients in person and have a better understanding of the social entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Below, some students share their thoughts on their overall experience in the class.
I thought we approached the business with the correct amount of skepticism. I often take basic business operations for granted and so I recognized I needed to be more questioning after the PP class time. I thought the case selection did a decent job of opening our minds into what could be possible “impact” for a company.
I think getting to see the way social enterprises operate within the legal, political, and socioeconomic structures in low/middle-income countries was really interesting to see firsthand. I gained a better understanding of the challenges they face compared to American startups, including the tradeoffs that come with making social impact (ex: balancing local employment with negative environmental impact)
I was so grateful to get to meet my client in person and visit some of their beneficiaries in their homes. I was able to understand their operations and the challenges they face much better than if they were just described to me over a call. I felt lucky to get to learn about the unique situation of those in poverty in Guatemala from those living it daily and feel that this experience will help me to ask better, more informed questions of those I am trying to help in the future.
First, the value of cross-cultural understanding and respect in promoting a positive and respectful environment during the immersion experience. Also, it has provided valuable insights and experiences that can be applied to future projects and foster a greater understanding of social entrepreneurship and sustainable development in the global context.