2021 SMU Giving Day: The Power of One Person’s Vision

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Illuminate Tintinto Hunt Institute's SMU Giving Day Project #SMUDayOneMohammed Njie envisions a future in which all of Africa has access to reliable, affordable, clean energy in his lifetime. Since his first day at the Hunt Institute, he has been working to make this vision a reality, starting with his home country of The Gambia. Mohammed developed a plan with the help of the Hunt Institute team. During that process, Mohammed founded Janta Energy, a social enterprise, with the goal of bringing clean, reliable energy to The Gambia. Like all great ideas, he needed a pilot project to test his hypothesis that rural schools could be fully functional with solar panels because the majority of their meeting time is during daylight hours. The pilot has the panels connected to batteries for evening classroom access. The long-term goal is to include fuel cells when the technology advances enough to offer an affordable option.

After securing permission from the Minister of Energy for The Gambia and local leadership in Tintinto, the team installed the technology needed to illuminate 50% of Tintinto Primary and Secondary School. During Janta’s pilot project, the team was able to pull data from the school’s energy use and excess, evaluating capacity in planning what should be installed to complete the project. After a year of use, based on the findings, the technology has proven that it will be a viable solution going forward.

In the spring semester of 2021, the student employees’ goal was to raise the remaining money needed to finish the pilot; they called it the “Illuminating Tintinto” project and submitted it to the SMU Giving Day roster. Through their hard work, they spread the word to generous donors who donated to complete the project. Now 100% of the Tintinto Primary and Secondary School will be powered by solar panels. Access to electricity will make available an entirely new learning environment, providing tools for teachers to use to enhance the learning experience of students in Tintinto.

In response to the generous donations made to support his pilot project, Mohammed said, “This is amazing. We are one step closer to making the dreams and hopes of the students in Tintinto village a reality. Progress and sustainability are possible through education, and energy access makes education a limitless experience for students. I am very excited about the future of Tintinto village, its students, and its people.”

With the knowledge and experience gained through this process, Mohammed intends on scaling Janta. By replicating the same technology, he plans to continue using local resources and labor to outfit other schools, eventually expanding the idea for use in rural hospitals in his pursuit to bring clean energy to all of The Gambia.

We, the team at the Hunt Institute, would like to thank all the supporters supporting the group of student employees determined to help Illuminate Tintinto. We are excited to see the progress that Mohammed Njie is making and are proud of the student employees that embody our university motto, “World Changers Shaped Here.”

Many of our supporters have long been by our side, some are new friends, and still, others are our very own SMU Alumni that worked in the Institute and returned to once again aid in our impact. Thank you!

To read more about the Hunt Institute’s work to develop future-focused solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems, please click here. For the latest news on the Hunt Institute, follow our social media accounts on LinkedInFacebook, and Instagram. We invite you to listen to our Podcast called Sages & Seekers. If you are considering engaging with the institute, you can donate, or sign-up for our newsletter by emailing huntinstitute@smu.edu.

Women Artisans and the Case for Handicrafts

The Case for Homemade by Silvia Rivera '18, SMU and Hunt Institute Alumni

As more and more social entrepreneurs show up in industry, both non-profit and for-profit, there is increasing overlap between the initiatives of the Social Enterprise and the Global Development Lab. While this integration will be a primary focus for the Hunt Institute in 2021, the overlap between entrepreneurship and innovation has been evident in past Institute projects, too, such as a report on the international handicrafts industry by Silvia Rivera ’18.

Rivera moved with her family from Chiapas, Mexico as a child. With this perspective, she has always been passionate about breaking down complex issues to empower underrepresented individuals. During her college journey at SMU, Rivera was immersed in exploring handicrafts and artisanal goods. She soon joined the Hunt Institute as an undergraduate researcher mentored by the Executive Director Dr. Eva Csaky. At the end of her senior year, Rivera’s findings lead her to conclude that handicrafts, “have a significant potential for social impact, both in terms of the income they generate and the cultural traditions they help preserve.”

Her research questions searched for a connection point to link local artisans with the global supply chain. Shortly before completing her work at SMU, Rivera journeyed to Washington D.C. for The Creative Economy Matters conference, which had a lasting impact on her. She produced a report titled “The Case for Handmade,” exploring the global artisan sector, its potential for impact, and both the challenges and opportunities involved in realizing this potential.

Foundational to inclusive economic development is the IE Model for entrepreneurs, corporations, and enablers developed by Dr. Csaky (see Applied IE Model below).

Applied Inclusive Economy Model, Dr. Eva Csaky
Model by Dr. Eva Csaky, Executive Director of the Hunter & Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity

This model led Rivera to search for the multi-stakeholders, global forces, and the opportunity for inclusive growth to local economies. The abstract of her report states, “From the definition of artisanal activity, to its importance for poverty alleviation, to the various challenges and opportunities faced by artisans, businesses, and other sector stakeholders, this report concludes with a brief case-study of the DFW market for artisanal goods, attempting to put to the test ideas set forth herein on the global artisan sector and the key opportunities that may point the way forward.”

According to Rivera’s report, handicrafts are an essential source of secondary income. About 80% of artisans are women globally, and the handicraft industry was worth $32 billion in 2018. Because it is not capital intensive, the barriers to entry are low. Typically speaking, women reinvest 90% of earnings into their family and train other women, passing down their skills and knowledge. Her research found that these women were quite resourceful, using existing resources and materials to enhance the uniqueness of their handicrafts.

Rivera says, “But the potential for impact doesn’t stop there, like I mentioned earlier there are other cultural aspects to handmade goods that make them more than the sum of their parts, and part of that is that often that they are made by marginalized ethnic minorities using (again often but not always) traditionally environmentally friendly methods. This part of their potential needs more research and attention but does pop up in the literature.”

Women artisans help to support education, healthcare, and housing for themselves and their families. The industry serves as an important source of diversification, especially as climate change negatively affects rural agriculture. Challenges facing artisan women are well documented, country-specific, and difficult to overcome with a one-size-fits-all solution. Primary challenges include informality, aggregation, access to information, and access to finance. Finding opportunities to overcome these challenges is where the social impact space can help the most, investigating global connection points to consumer, entrepreneurial, and corporate trends for artisan groups.

To read more about the Hunt Institute’s work to develop future-focused solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems, please click here. For the latest news on the Hunt Institute, follow our social media accounts on LinkedInFacebookTwitter, and Instagram. We invite you to listen to our Podcast called Sages & Seekers. If you are considering engaging with the institute, you can donate, or sign-up for our newsletter by emailing huntinstitute@smu.edu.

The Kijiji Project, Tanzania

Clara Ford, CEO of Kijiji Innovative Sustainable Solutions, Kasisa Village, a rural village in Tanzania

The Hunt Institute’s Global Development Lab partnered with Jessie Zarazaga, Ph.D, Director of the Master of Arts in Sustainability and Development from Lyle School of Engineering, to work with Clara Ford, Founder, President, and CEO of Kijiji Innovative Sustainable Solutions (KISS) and MASD alumni on what we call the Kijiji Project.

Born in Kasisa Village, a rural village in the East African country of Tanzania, Ford is especially motivated to improve the quality of life of its residents. Ford has directed her efforts toward building a community center with goals of reducing cyclical poverty and empowering the local people with technical skills. The locals of Kasisa Village are stakeholders in the planned center, which will function as a testing ground for social impact implementation in their community. This partnership for community development is a core value for Ford, the KISS Board of Directors, and the Hunt Institute.

Zarazaga explains the importance of this project, saying, “The energy and focus invested in the Kijiji project is valuable for the village of Kasisa, Tanzania, but it is equally valuable for the skills of my students, as future sustainability professionals. It is not enough to talk about sustainability, it is not an abstract activity. Each solution is embedded in a real situation with people and territory; this is where learning takes place.”

“The opportunity to work with Clara, who connects those in the village, where her father was born, with her classmates in MASD, is unusual and powerful. I have a deep connection with Africa for my own family history and find it emotionally powerful to be able to share that passion with the SMU student team.” – Zarazaga

This project experienced considerable delays at the onset of the Spring Semester’s COVID-19 response, including a canceled trip to a conference for Zarazaga, a campus shutdown, and the steep learning curve for doing remote work on a global scale. Despite these challenges, Zarazaga says, “Covid, and the necessity to work at a distance, made us learn how much we really can do remotely. Now we see that connecting to Dar es Salaam (near the Kasisa village) is no harder than connecting to my office at SMU. Our way of collaborating is changing: we are working with Tanzanian students and professionals more than we had planned or anticipated; this is good for the sustainability of the project in powerful ways.”

Phase I wrapped up over the Summer Session with remote work, and Phase II is in progress during the Fall Semester with a hybrid system of remote and in-person work. The teams in both countries continue to find resolve and resilience to serve a higher purpose–designing access to a higher quality of life for community members in the Kasisa Village of Tanzania. Next week, we will share the findings of Phase I through the Hunt Digest, Building Fences to Build Connections.

To read more about the Hunt Institute’s work to develop future-focused solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems, please click here. For the latest news on the Hunt Institute, follow our social media accounts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We invite you to listen to our Podcast called Sages & Seekers. If you are considering engaging with the institute, you can donate, or sign-up for our newsletter by emailing huntinstitute@smu.edu. 

Clara Rulegura Ford, Social Enterprise 2021 Cohort Entrepreneur

Clara Rulegura Ford joined the Hunt Institute’s Social Enterprise Program as a social entrepreneur in the 2020 Cohort. Clara is the Founder and CEO of Kijiji Innovative Sustainable Solutions (K.I.S.S.)

With a lust for life and affinity towards advancing sustainable development, Clara Rulegura Ford, CEO of Kijiji Innovative Sustainable Solutions (K.I.S.S.), joined the Hunt Institute’s Social Enterprise 2021 Cohort as a Social Entrepreneur, with aspirations of encouraging sustained economic development.

A multifaceted individual, Clara Ford is an alumna of the Clinton Global Initiative University and has earned a bachelor’s degree in Accounting as well as a dual master’s degree in Applied Economics and Sustainability & Development from SMU. She is currently a Senior Associate Examiner for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and has over 10 years of experience in commercial lending and the financial industry.

Clara grew up in Tanzania, and she aspires to generate real solutions to sustainability issues in order to inspire locals to be able to lift themselves out of poverty. From a young age, her parents had instilled in her the importance of public service and giving back. Given this inspiration, Clara founded her nonprofit organization — Kijiji Innovative Sustainable Solutions (K.I.S.S) — with her former economics professor at SMU, Dr. Thomas Osang.  K.I.S.S aims to promote development in rural Tanzanian villages through education, community activism, sustainable initiatives, and youth and women empowerment. Plans to implement these initiatives are highlighted through her current project’s focus: the buildout of K.I.S.S. Training and Education Center in the village of Kasisa in northern Tanzania.

In the summer of 2020, Phase 1 of her Kijiji project was completed through a partnership with Hunt Institute Fellow Dr. Jessie Zarazaga and the Institute’s Global Development Lab. The focus was on the development of a sustainable fence for the community center she aspires to build in Kasisa.

Now, her project has turned to the center’s initiatives, to focus on the following nine training and education projects: sustainable and durable housing, energy efficiency, renewable energy, clean water access, toilet design & sanitation system, sustainable agriculture & aquaculture, garbage reduction & recycling, education & vocational training, and health care. Collectively, these development programs hope to reduce rural poverty and significantly improve the quality of life for local rural communities. Kijiji logo

Her nonprofit’s logo “means ‘help me to help you’, a symbol of cooperation and interdependence,” says Clara Ford. “That’s what K.I.S.S. is all about. To bring about sustained economic development through cooperation and interdependence between us, our partners, and the communities we serve.”

In partnership with SMU’s Sustainability + Development Program (S + DP), the Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity, and three universities in Tanzania, Clara’s team launched an architectural competition for the design of the Rulegura Centre. Winners were announced over the summer months and the finalists were exhibited in the Hunt Institute in the spring of 2021. Most recently, an update of this competition was released in the fall of 2021.

Clara discussed her passion for her impact work saying, “I wouldn’t be here where I am today if not for all the people who have helped me along the way. The Kijiji Project is one of the ways for me to pay it forward. Along the way I realized it will take a diverse model that brings all stakeholders together, to work in symbiosis to better address problems that are unique to each locale. Through Kijiji Innovative Sustainable Solutions, we have a platform to do that. The partnerships we make with various institutions, NGOs, businesses and individual volunteers together with the communities we try to help make a ‘mastermind’ necessary to generate real solutions that will empower the locals in the long run to lift themselves out of poverty.”

Stay tuned to the Hunt Institute Digest for updates on the Kijiji project and for more examples of social entrepreneurs.

To read more about the Hunt Institute’s work to develop future-focused solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems, please click here. For the latest news on the Hunt Institute, follow our social media accounts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We invite you to listen to our Podcast called Sages & Seekers. If you are considering engaging with the institute, you can donate, or sign-up for our newsletter by emailing huntinstitute@smu.edu.

Why We Do What We Do: Part 1

How can we help repair our world after COVID-19?

Sitting in her office on another Zoom call, the Assistant Director, Corrie Harris, works to motivate team members given the current state of affairs: an ever-changing landscape that greatly affects their ability to collaborate with in-country partners and affiliates. A series of delays, losses, and obstacles have flown in their path, yet they continue to press on.

When the shelter-in-place order was given in March 2020, the team members in the Institute quickly adjusted to remote work. The transition was seamless, as the Institute was already structured to accommodate full-time college students’ schedules by leveraging online project management and communication platforms. When other programs came to a screeching halt, the Institute persevered, taking steps to preserve the connectedness often lost with remote work. Now, given the opening of the SMU campus for the fall semester, they have a consistent system allowing for a hybrid workspace of both remote and in-person collaboration.

The question was asked, “What keeps the team going with all this uncertainty?” Harris responded, “Since I was a little girl, I have always been drawn to helping others. I am not alone. All the student workers, affiliates, and leadership at the Institute have their own version of this statement. It is why we do what we do. It is what keeps us motivated. Now with the consequences of the global pandemic at the forefront, institutes like ours need to be at the ready. Everyone here at the Institute feels it, and we keep pushing to find solutions.”

For the past two years, the Hunt Institute’s Global Development Lab (GDL) has evolved from the pilot stage to a mature program. With over sixty affiliates, an average of twenty to twenty-five student workers, and an extensive network of industry partners, the Institute has become a hub for fostering collaborative, innovative solutions. “There is something inside of us that is hard to explain, something that draws us to make the world a better place beyond what some may think is possible. Utopia may be a fantasy, but it is worth seeking and reaching for every day. It is in that reaching, seeking, and working that we help improve the lives of others. In so doing, we always improve our own lives.”

This Fall semester, we will highlight various team members as they courageously continue working on their projects in the GDL, overcoming the obstacles and uncertainty brought on by the global pandemic. Stay tuned to the Hunt Institute Digest to get a first-hand account as the story of this semester unfolds.

To read more about the Hunt Institute’s work to develop future-focused solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems, please click here. For the latest news on the Hunt Institute, follow our social media accounts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We invite you to listen to our Podcast called Sages & Seekers. If you are considering engaging with the Institute, you can donate, or sign-up for our newsletter by emailing huntinstitute@smu.edu

Beta COVID-19 Relief Map

Map in Dallas COVID-19 relief map services to help with food, community services, shelter, and more

In Spring of this year, the Hunt Institute’s Map 4 Good project evolved into Map InDallas, an organizational expansion that included the addition of a stakeholder Advisory Committee led by Dr. Eva Csaky and implemented with the guidance of Dr. James Olivier. Weeks later, the then-emerging COVID-19 pandemic shifted the focus to how best to use the existing plans and infrastructure to serve the Dallas community. The beta of the COVID Relief Map was launched by Map InDallas team in the middle of the Summer semester to stay true to the original goal of the project: connecting individuals in need to free service providers in the Dallas area. They continue to refine the data and help improve the categorization.

Various fellows, staff, and students have contributed to this project’s evolution but none have developed the map itself like Liam Lowsley-Williams, an undergraduate student working in web development and programming in the Hunt Institute and as a teacher’s assistant for the computer science department.

Regarding Liam’s motivation for this project, he said, “What drives my motivation is the fact that I can utilize my abilities in software engineering to make a beneficial impact on those who are suffering from COVID-19. We are certainly going through a rough time and I am proud to have the ability to do my part and give back.”

Focusing especially on the resources needed by the victims of the pandemic’s side effects, the aspiring beta COVID Relief Map seeks to helps users identify key service providers located near them like food pantries, community service locations, homeless shelters, and family counseling facilities. As the platform develops, users will be able to utilize a search function to navigate through the available resources or a filter function to limit the visible options to the specific service they are looking for. Once the user has located the service they would like to use, the COVID Relief Map will display an address and phone number to put clients in direct contact with the services they would like to use. It is projected all features of the COVID Relief Map will be functional by the end of the year.

While the map may have shifted slightly from its original conception, the team’s plans for the future remain the same. Aspiring upcoming digital features for the COVID Relief Map include search and sort based on eligibility criteria, turn by turn direction, and contact methods within the map itself. Additionally, the team is working on other mediums of the map to make it more accessible. It is currently available online, but the team hopes to have non-digital copies posted in strategic locations like public libraries and on mobile devices.

To read more about the Hunt Institute’s work to develop future-focused solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems, please click here. For the latest news on the Hunt Institute, follow our social media accounts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We invite you to listen to our Podcast called Sages & Seekers. If you are considering engaging with the institute, you can donate, or sign-up for our newsletter by emailing huntinstitute@smu.edu.

Map 4 Good is moving to Map InDallas

Map InDallas

The Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity’s project “Map 4 Good” has evolved into Map InDallas. This transition includes an interdisciplinary advisory committee representing a range of key stakeholders for the project. While the name of the project has changed, the goals remain the same. Map InDallas looks to connect individuals in need with free service providers in Dallas to increase the number of eligible individuals taking advantage of local services.

Studies have shown individuals who are eligible for free services may have certain barriers that prevent them from accessing opportunities. Possible barriers can be attributed to lack of information about available services, physical access to services, or even misconceptions or stereotypes about the services. The map created by Map InDallas will empower individuals to use the services available to them by providing them with tools and resources to seek out services they require.

In addition to providing a database about local free services, Map InDallas plans to include a feature allowing users to search and sort through each service based on their eligibility, location, and what free services they are looking for. Once a user has found a service they would like to use, the map will provide them with contact information including a phone number and email address for the free service to coordinate any appointments or meetings necessary, putting clients in direct contact with the free services they would like to use and allowing them to coordinate availability.

Map InDallas plans to release the map through three main mediums: an online version available on a website and smartphone application, printed maps available in community centers like libraries, and interactive kiosks. Hunt Institute partners will play a large role in the dissemination of the Map InDallas map once it has been complete. For organizations looking to participate in Map InDallas’ efforts, the Hunt Institute is still accepting partners and local service providers.

If you would like to support the Hunt Institute’s projects, including Map InDallas, please click here.

To read more about the Hunt Institute’s work to develop future-focused solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems, please click here. For the latest news on the Hunt Institute, follow our social media accounts on LinkedInFacebookTwitter, and Instagram. We invite you to listen to our Podcast called Sages & Seekers. If you are considering engaging with the institute, you can donate, or sign-up for our newsletter by emailing huntinstitute@smu.edu.

Spring 2019 Semester Update

Spring 2019

As we near the end of the second semester, the Hunt Institute is proud to highlight some of our student’s accomplishments from this academic year.

Varsha Appaji

Varsha has been working on a project dedicated to analyzing an inclusive economy and has discovered a great interest in the Internet of Things. This summer, Varsha will be interning in Washington DC.

Cullen Blanchfield

Cullen is currently making several videos for the Hunt Institute, including one about Evie-in-a-box to be used by educators in different countries.

Ryan Brook

This semester, Ryan worked on establishing a Project Management Organizational structure at the Institute. He is graduating this spring and has accepted a job at Hunt Oil Company.

Anna Grace Carey

This semester, Anna Grace was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. Additionally, Anna Grace was chosen as the Division of Journalism’s outstanding senior for writing and editing and was awarded with the John Goodwin Tower award. Anna Grace has accepted an offer to work as an associate at Sendero.

Daniel Dewan

Daniel has been working on the technological elements of the Hunt Institute’s web presence. Recently, Daniel has become an official member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

Sienna Dugan

This February, Sienna received the 2018 Hope Award from Mending Kids, a testament to her dedication to making the world a brighter place.

Cole DeYoung

This semester, Cole has been working a project manager for one of the Hunt Institute’s exciting new projects. She plans to intern this summer at Mu Sigma, a consulting firm in New York City.

Alejandro Dominguez Garcia

At the Hunt Institute, Alejandro has been working as a project manager for one of the Institute’s exciting new projects. This summer, Alejandro plans to work as an integrated supply chain intern at NextEra Energy in Florida.

Gabrielle Gonzales

This spring, Gabrielle traveled to Guatemala with the International Esperanza Project, an organization based out of Dallas that provides free comprehensive medical clinics. Beyond her research at the Hunt Institute, Gabrielle has been working directly with the director of the Title IX office to shape future efforts and initiatives focused on Sexual Assault on campus.

Tristan Knotts

This semester, Tristan was honored with Lyle’s Outstanding Senior Award and has been nominated for SMU’s Outstanding Senior Award. Currently, he is working as a project manager at the Hunt Institute and oversees all student-driven projects. Tristan has also spent the year serving as SMU’s Chief Information Officer of the Student Advisory Board.

 Kyle Kolosziej

As a first-year student, Kyle has become heavily involved in the University. He currently holds leadership roles in Theta Tau and Mustang Fitness Club and is a member of Phi Delta Theta, Best Buddies and SMU Club Soccer. This summer, Kyle will be working with AGCO as a data analyst.

Kelly Little

Earlier this semester, Kelly was presented with the Kappa Kappa Gamma Academic Excellence award. Proving that she was is worthy of such an honor, Kelly plans to work as a medical assistant at the top plastic surgery office in New York City this summer.

Liam Lowsley-Williams

This year, Liam has been working as a teaching assistant for Data Structures in the Computer Science department. Liam plans to intern as a software engineer this summer at McKinsey & Company in NYC. 

Caroline Matthews

Caroline will spend the summer interning in London, England. She plans to start a food blog to share her culinary adventures abroad with her family and friends. Already looking forward to next year, Caroline plans to start a tax internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in the spring of 2020.

Mitchell Morrison

This year, Mitchell received a spot on the honor roll with high distinction and is now a candidate for the Fulbright Commission. Mitchell has become very involved at SMU, serving as a team co-lead for Consult Your Community and joining the Delta Sigma Pi Professional Fraternity as well as the Society of Physics Students.

Andrea Nguyen

Throughout the semester, Andrea has conducted research on Blockchain technology and its cross-industry usage. Andrea has been invited to be a Foreign Service Institute intern with the US State Department.

Cydney Snyder

This semester, Cydney chaired a fundraiser benefitting Genesis Women’s Shelter and the One Love Foundation that raised over $126,000. At the Hunt Institute, she has developed a curriculum for a three-day summer camp focused on STEM education in rural areas. Continuing her passion for education, Cydney has accepted the opportunity to work as a teacher with Teach for America in Kansas City, Kansas.  

Jaclyn Soria

Jaclyn joined the Hunt Institute as a marketing specialist this semester and has been working on branding for the Institute’s exciting new projects. This summer, she plans to stay in Dallas and work on the Institute’s website.

Wilkie Stevenson

As a student senator for the Lyle school of engineering, Wilkie is committed to his many projects. Currently, he is developing a STEM kit series for all ages and has a patent pending for a wall-mounted wireless charger.

Global Development Lab

Launched by the Hunter & Stephanie Hunt Institute for Engineering & Humanity and housed in the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering at Southern Methodist University, the Global Development Lab is a catalyst for projects fostering global development one concept at a time.

The program uses a project-based interdisciplinary engagement model that involves student teams working with experts on solutions for pressing global issues identified by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). An exemplary project team would consist of an Affiliate of the Institute, SMU staff, undergraduate and/or graduate researchers, industry partner(s), a local in-country partner, and an undergraduate project manager.

The Lab is governed by three guiding pillars (1) foster technology, engineering, and market-based ideas with the goal of creating innovative solutions for a resilient humanity addressing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals,  (2) ally with local partners with systemic engagement in their communities working on addressing local challenges, (3) Engage our network of experts for the development and testing of ideas in order to maximize the viability of solutions.

GDL high-impact projects of systemic importance can be categorized into three focus areas within SDGs: (i) transformational technology, (ii) sustainable food systems, and (iii) resilient infrastructure.

Overview of engagement in the GDL:
A. We host student groups or individual students working on research or a project that aligns with the guiding principles of the Hunt Institute without direct management of outcome from the GDL team.

B. We partner to form a project with formal hands-on engagement from GDL’s functional teams and network. A Fellow in the Hunt Institute may apply to create a new project or join an existing one. Funding is available from various sources which will be determined after project eligibility is determined.

C. We pioneer a new initiative with full responsibility to manage the design, implementation, and growth of the project into a program by HI’s leadership and functional teams. Once project grows into program level; further engagement is recruited via partners in government, NGOs, non-profits, and so forth.

To read more about the Hunt Institute’s work to develop future-focused solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems, please click here. For the latest news on the Hunt Institute, follow our social media accounts on LinkedIn,FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. We invite you to listen to our Podcast called Sages & Seekers. If you are considering engaging with the institute, you can donate, or sign-up for our newsletter by emailing huntinstitute@smu.edu.

The Creative Economy Matters

Silvia Rivera is the definition of a world changer. Since joining the Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity as a student analyst, Rivera has conducted research on artisan entrepreneurship and inclusive economic development. Rivera recently returned from Washington, D.C. after participating in “The Creative Economy Matters,” a conference hosted by the Artisan Alliance.

For this conference, the Artisan Alliance brought individuals from around the world together to talk about the various challenges and opportunities of investing in and creating artisan businesses. For Rivera, this was the first time that her personal ties to artisan products and academic research converged.

Throughout her childhood, Rivera visited artisan markets with her mother frequently. Even now, every time Rivera goes abroad, she makes an effort to visit small markets. These experiences have led to Rivera’s personal museum of handmade goods and tangible memories.

In college, Rivera started research at the Hunt Institute on artisanal businesses. Artisinal activity is the second largest source of income for the global poor, calls upon existing skills, makes use of available raw materials, and can help preserve cultural traditions. Rivera’s research asks, “What makes artisanal businesses successful? What makes their work impactful?” Rivera often analyzes these questions under the inclusive economy framework, a model created by Dr. Eva Csaky, director of the Hunt Institute.

“I’ll never forget it,” Rivera said when discussing the conference. “Washington, D.C. is such an energizing city.” Rivera went on to talk about her favorite speaker at the conference, DolmaKyap.

DolmaKyap, an artisan entrepreneur, shared his story of creating Chamtsee, a small handicraft workshop in Tibet. After leaving his home in search of the meaning of life, DolmaKyap noticed that people were interested in Tibet and the Tibetan way of life. He had always known that there were exceptional goods and products, like textiles and cheeses, representative of nomadic Tibetan culture. After leaving Tibet, he learned that there was demand for those goods in other parts of the world. This was the critical moment: there was an amazing good and a need in the world, what could DolmaKyap do about it? The result was Chamtsee. DolmaKyap proves that successful artisan products can generate income and represent a person’s culture.

Ideally, the impact of investing in artisanal businesses benefits everyone. By purchasing a handmade good, consumers are able to empower someone in a tangible and direct way. Artisans receive support and, in most cases, a fair wage. Consumers receive a unique product, a conversation piece, and something that is completely their own.

Do you want to start supporting artisan businesses today? The Artisan Alliance’s list of member organizations is a great place to start. Some of the members, like GAIA for Women and The Citizenry, are based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Rivera acknowledges the challenges of ethical buying in general and offered this piece of advice: “A good rule of thumb I use is to just be as curious and inquisitive as possible about what you’re buying and where it came from, and to have fun with that process.”

A cursory glance at Rivera’s resume is enough to turn heads. She is a triple major in business, international studies and Spanish. She is a President’s Scholar, BBA Scholar and McLane Scholar. She has researched artisan entrepreneurship as a student analyst at the Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity. It’s no surprise that Bain & Company has offered her a job following her graduation in May.

According to their website, the Artisan Alliance is a network that “works to unlock the economic value in the artisan sector.” They do this through programs with innovative financing, member networking, business coaching and other events. The Artisan Alliance brings business owners, policymakers and consumers together to enact change that no business could achieve alone.

Story Contributors

Written by: Anna Grace Carey

Edited by: Maggie Inhofe