In March, five students from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth came to Madagascar to work alongside Blue Ventures’ community-based aquaculture project as part of their First Year Project. These highly experienced business students came to Madagascar, and got to know the project from the inside out, through site visits, sea cucumber night monitoring, meetings with all relevant business partners, and detailed Q&A sessions about everything from supply chains to budgets to farmer association structure. Now, the students are back in the U.S. working on a business plan for the project, while keeping in close contact with us here in Madagascar. Read the students’ accounts of their trip, or read the original posts here, here and here.

By Avanti Maluste, Tuck 2014

The team in Madagascar

The team in Madagascar

A week ago we weren’t sure if our Spring Break plans would work out – a cyclone had struck Toliara, in southwest Madagascar, that happened to be exactly where we needed to be for our First Year Project (FYP). But here we are. Three flights (NYC à Johannesburg à Antananarivo àToliara) and over forty eight hours later, we’re in the tropics. Five T’14s (Tuck, Class of 2014) – Meg Nunn, Hilary Ferro, Rashmi Khare, Evgeny Gonokhin and I are conducting an operational effectiveness study on sustainable sea cucumber and sea weed farms. Classic MBA. The client, Blue Ventures, is a leading NGO that works on developing the livelihoods of isolated communities in Belize and Madagascar and engaging these communities through activities that conserve local marine environments.

How did it come to this? The short answer is somewhat randomly. I met a Blue Ventures board member at a conference in early 2012 and was immediately intrigued by the work they did (because I’m interested in the nexus of conservation and economic development). Several long distance scoping calls between the Center for Business & Society, the FYP office and the Blue Ventures team in Madagascar, and we had a project in the pipeline. The rest was history.

We arrived in Antananarivo (the capital, abbreviated to Tana), checked into our hotel and a short while later headed to the center of town to meet a T’97 (and Madagascar’s only Tuckie!) for dinner. Community runs deep at Tuck – Haingo was thrilled to see Tuck engaged in Madagascar’s community, and was eager to introduce us to other organizations involved in similar activities to Blue Ventures’ (look out, T’15s! You might be here next).

We left for Toliara early this morning and met our clients, Antoine and Minnie, for lunch – we’re headed to the Blue Ventures office to discuss the way forward soon, but this is starting to look like the experience of a lifetime. Tomorrow, we head to the sea cucumber farms – for a midnight harvest. Stay tuned!

Posted by Guest author

We regularly invite guest authors, including expedition volunteers, independent researchers, medical elective students and former staff to contribute to the Beyond Conservation blog.

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