UW-Whitewater: Management professor, students support nonprofit work in India

Contact: Sameer Prasad

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WHITEWATER – Management professor Sameer Prasad is using concepts taught in his classes to better the lives of the underprivileged across India. Prasad has implemented much of the work done by his students at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater into the business strategies of nonprofit organizations in India.

Through Spread International, originally Spread India, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of impoverished people around the world, Prasad has worked to establish an orphanage for boys, improve the financial stability of small businesses and increase access to schools for both children and adults in towns across India.

UW-Whitewater students have played a large role in the work that has gone into making these projects successful.

“It’s not just about giving money,” Prasad said. “We make sure everything is done right, and everything is fiscally feasible.”

It’s certainly true that a dollar goes a long way in poverty-stricken areas of India. This does not mean, though, that there needn’t be strict cost management techniques involved with the work being done.

Business models completed by UW-Whitewater students have kept setup and operational costs down and determined the price of caring for each child, helping to better ensure the future of the orphanage.

Forecast demand models have predicted the best seasons for micro-entrepreneurs to sell certain products, enabling small businesses in India to better manage inventory and increase profits.

Some of the work done by students can be seen at http://www.uww.edu/cobe/micro/student.htm.

“These projects enable students to work on things that go beyond career training and create meaningful projects,” Prasad said.

For children growing up in impoverished towns and cities in India, just getting to and from school everyday is a huge challenge. UW-Whitewater students built a multi-transportation mode system, where the closest school and available bus route for potential students were catalogued.

Prasad is currently on sabbatical as he continues his work for Spread International. Upper-level management students can still enroll in the classes that contribute to the nonprofit organization. Prasad plans on expanding the scope of student projects to include carbon footprint projects in future semesters.