By Cesar Sanchez, MBA’16
Last month, the Owen School of Business at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, hosted the second Latin Business Challenge.
The case competition provided a scenario in which a nonprofit organization (Nutri-Plus) developed a nutritional peanut based product (Mani+) to help reduce malnutrition in Guatemala. Currently, Guatemala has the highest rate of malnutrition in Latin America, where 50 percent of the children between 0-5 years old have some level of malnourishment.
Nutri-Plus is having issues making its operation sustainable, as they are currently selling their product at a loss and they are facing strong competition from cheaper products that are targeting the same customers as Nutri-Plus (mainly NGO’s). Students were asked to provide possible solutions to increase sales and make its operation more sustainable.
With the support of the Institute of Global Organizational Effectiveness (IGOE), the Kelley School of Business was able to send an MBA team to compete against several other business schools. As the only 100% Latin team, Alejandra De Caso, Miguel Florez, Santiago Hope, Sulay Alvarenga, and I used all the hard and soft skills learned at the Kelley School of Business to make our presentation both strong in content and structure.
Judges included representatives from Deloitte, AT&T, and the CEO of Nutri-Plus.
By making bold recommendations supported with extensive data, including increasing the price, changing the target market to partner with major corporations, and changing the sourcing of raw materials from organic peanuts to conventional peanuts which offered the same nutritional value at a much lower cost, the Kelley team brought home the gold (and the $5,000 prize) for the second straight year.
This case competition was a great opportunity for us to get our hands on real work experience while doing our MBA, and it was even more rewarding to work on a project that had a social impact in Latin America.
This competition showed once again the quality of the Kelley students and brought attention to the social issues in Latin America that should be part of the discussion in every business school.