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’07 Grad Helps Start Nonprofit to Benefit Bolivian Village
When Huda Ahmed ’07 went on to Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business to earn her MBA after graduating from Moritz, she wasn’t sure what to expect.
She also didn’t know where a Fisher elective course, Microfinance, would take her. As part of the class, Ahmed and her classmates visited Bolivia to learn and offer consulting. The trip opened her eyes to a world of opportunities.
“We went over to do consulting, and we were just really touched by what we saw. Their story is just so sad. These people work incredibly hard. They have the skills and the effort. They just do not have access to a market that will provide them sufficient returns.”
Ahmed – along with five of her Fisher classmates who joined her on the initial trip to Bolivia – decided to do something about the situation.
The group formed the International Development Collaborative (IDC), a nonprofit designed to encourage and assist in the creation of entrepreneurial enterprises in developing countries. The organization’s first project involved a textile operation in the village of Muruamaya. A women’s textile group in the village, called Suma-Qura, was used to support one another and build friendships. However, the students learned, the market for textiles in the village was saturated and was not conducive to turning a profit.
Ahmed said that the students – who later would form IDC – determined that they could greatly help these women by connecting them to another market.
They asked the women to create Ohio State Buckeyes scarves – and later hats – that would be sold around Columbus. The women – who, in Bolivia, typically live on about $2 a day – receive $6 for each scarf produced.
“Our intention is to donate the proceeds back to the village to build schools or address whatever their most pressing needs are,” Ahmed said.
Ahmed said that the first 200 scarves ordered last year sold out almost immediately. They ordered an additional 2,000 scarves and continue to work to sell them.
“We plan to expand this model to different schools and different products and countries,” Ahmed said. “We are really focusing now on getting our business model just right so expansion will be smooth.”
Ahmed said that they are interested in growing the collaborative to other impoverished countries, like Nepal. They also hope to offer other products from other Big Ten schools. “But that is all very long-term,” she said.
Nearly all the IDC staff members work full-time jobs in addition to the nonprofit.
“We spent a lot of evenings and full weekends working on IDC,” she said. “It is a large time commitment. But it is work that we really enjoy and we are committed to helping these women.”
Ahmed is currently working full-time as IDC’s general counsel and continues to improve the organization.
“I think that with any startup there are always bumps in the road,” the Bowling Green, Ohio, native said. “Nothing ever goes exactly as you planned. It has been challenging navigating through all the obstacles, but it has certainly been enjoyable.”
For more information about IDC or to order their products, visit http://www.idcvillage.org/