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MBAs present new lifesaving Bio-Med devices on Thursday

Can business save Rwanda?

Rice MBAs present new lifesaving Bio-Med devices on Thursday


Near the end of a five-day trip to Rwanda, Rice MBA students hovered over a newborn inside an incubator, which was developed by Rice bioengineering undergrads but built by Rwandans. This student team and three other teams, flew to Kigali, Rwanda over Spring break to help local entrepreneurs launch businesses using lifesaving bio-medical products like the incubator.

In just five days, the incubator student team taught Rwandans to build the incubator, found a market including a potential production of as many as 900 incubators for the Rwandan market alone, and prepared the prototype for testing by the Rwandan certification agency.

Rice students hope to introduce a sustainable business model that will allow this country, governed mostly by women, to move away from receiving aid to using business as one means of building a sustainable economy. Ultimately, through social entrepreneurship, Rice MBAs hope to show how business can help solve global health issues.

Beginning at 6 p.m. on April 23, 2009, we invite you to Rice University to see the students present business plans for specific health products targeted for use in the developing world.

The idea of making money in a poor country like Rwanda may sound odd, but Professor Marc Epstein, who teaches the class that prepared students for the trip, said entrepreneurism is not only alive in Rwanda — around 100 million entrepreneurs will receive microfinance loans in developing countries this year — it thrives as a matter of necessity.

“Why not allow them to use their business skills to get these life-saving products into the market?” He said. “Neither governments nor aid organizations have been effective at getting products to the people who really need them. But that's what business does best. Products get delivered, and customers get served when there is a profit motive."

The presentations are a part of “In Business for Global Health,” Rice’s first annual global health entrepreneurship event. The event is free and open to the public. RSVP requested to reserve a seat. Please contact Janet Wheeler at 713-348-3071, or jmw@rice.edu .

The trip, an integral part of a technology commercialization course at the Jones School, is associated with Rice's global health initiative, Rice 360. Jones School Distinguished Research Professor of Management Marc Epstein, who teaches the class, and Stanley C. Moore Professor of Bioengineering Rebecca Richards-Kortum as well as participating Rice students will be available for interviews. Please contact Julia Nguyen, julianguyen@rice.edu or 713.348.5387 to set up interviews.

WHAT:  Rice University students present business plans for health products targeted for use in the developing world

WHEN:  6 p.m. on April 23, 2009

WHERE:  Cohen House, Rice University Campus

Read more: Blog by Rice Professor Gale Wiley, (who served as cameraman): ricembasinafrica.blogspot.com .