RUDI Update: Mentors and redefining our scope (again)

Most of the teams in our class are still working on finding the right mentors and setting up their meetings, but we lucked out and were provided with two great contacts from the start.  It definitely helps that Seattle is quite a hub for agribusiness and international development work!  In the last post Ben mentioned our first mentor call with Mr. X from Grameen.  This past week we had a call with Ms. Y and Mr. Z (I’m following Ben’s convention of anonymity)  from the Gates Foundation, which was an incredibly useful discussion.  All of our mentors have had a great deal of experience in agribusiness in developing countries and while some of the challenges RUDI is facing are unique (Castor procurement, pricing issues in specific districts, etc), many of the challenges are faced by other organizations as well (cash flow, transportation costs, leadership, training, etc).  I think one of the most valuable things we got from the mentor meetings was identifying other comparable organizations to focus on for our outside research.

After our last mentor call, a discussion was sparked within our team regarding our final deliverable and project scope.  This ended up being a great outcome of the mentor call, because it got us thinking more creatively about the final deliverable and helped us identify the main part of the rural distribution chain where we feel we can be most useful.  RUDI is currently operating in many districts as we’ve mentioned: some performing well and others under-performing.  In our discussions, we have decided that the best tool for them moving forward is a way to evaluate a district before entering to determine the viability of RUDI in that district.

Last week the entire class met to give each other an idea what we’ve been working on since we got back from India.  I think I can speak for everyone when I say how impressed I was with all of the other projects!  Some teams have already completed an entire project with recommendations and are moving on to their other projects.  We are all working on different timeframes based on when the clients need our final deliverables, but it seems like everyone has been very productive, despite the snowpocalypse:)

Our team has also been working on an analysis for the RUDI processing centers, similar to what we did with Castor procurement the previous week.  This was submitted to our client last night, so we have a bulk of the background work done, which is a huge relief!  Next up is our formal progress report for the client, after which we’ll pull together our completed analysis, outside research, and feedback from the client and start drafting our final deliverable.  It’s impressive to think how much we’ve accomplished in less than a month!

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