CINQ Blog Week 13

Envirofit International Business Model Canvas:

Value Proposition: The main values which Envirofit International delivers to their customer are adoption, affordability, and access. They solve the customer problem of not being able to afford or have access to obtaining the assets necessary to service their own microenterprises, specifically those involving stove-top goods. They are able to cater to the locals’ set of needs by enabling them to gain access to greatly reduce their fuel costs at the lowest possible costs, thanks to their extensive distribution services solving the last mile problem of the rural areas they serve in. In terms of specific individual needs, Envirofit International recognizes the health hazards which open fire stove cooking can have on users, and instead utilize environmentally friendly and safe technologies as another solution.

Key Activities: The main activities of Envirofit International can be best summarized by the visual chart they have on their main website. First, they do an extensive amount of R&D, in order to maintain their main values of environmentally friendly, technologically innovative, and extremely low cost product lines. In addition, they work to design for adoption. This means they utilize focus, test groups, and surveys. This is to make sure that the products they are investing their time and money in would genuinely be impactful and useful for their customer bases. If they brought products which these customers, typically with little to no education, are unable to learn to use, then they are wasting both their own and their customers’ time and money. Next, they work to make their production to scale. Envirofit maintains well-detailed records and algorithms to make sure that they are producing the optimal amount of products, utilizing the optimal amount of resources and labor to do so. Another key activity is their extensive distribution. As noted on their website, they partner with last mile entrepreneurs, local businesses, and international distributors to enlist a team of hard working, far reaching distributors who can come together to have stoves and other products reach hard-to-reach customers, some of whom may be unable to leave their homes or travel to nearby villages. The last two activities are customer relationships and impact monitoring. They have programs to teach their customers the importance of maintaining clean stovetops, then make sure to call and keep in contact to check the impact and suggestions which products have. This way, they continue the relations they have made and utilize these customers to inspire their future innovation.

Key Partners: Envirofit has many partners, including: Shell Foundation, Clean Cooking Alliance, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Business Call to Action, UNDP, UK Aid, WFP, World Economic Forum, and One Acre Fund.

Cost Structure: Envirofit has a unique cost structure, because their website allows you to either distribute their products or buy their products. Their fixed costs are the prices they pay for their manufacturing facilities, distribution (which can be fairly expensive since they distribute so heavily), and marketing efforts. Variable costs are more of the product parts and research and development costs. An interesting aspect to Envirofit’s cost structure is their offering of cookstone carbon credits, in which customers can purchase credits to offset their CO2 emissions, which are used to support the business and can be purchased to sponsor stoves themselves which are then sold to the local in-need markets.

Key Resources: Key resources include the stove fuels (wood, charcoal, LPG), as well as all the stove parts themselves. These parts include ceramic, metal (which brings down costs greatly), plastic, steel, cast iron, and other parts. On top of this, they need their physical resources, or the manual labor going into making these stoves. They also utilize intellectual resources, through their extensive R&D as well as their Envirofit University, where they invest in intellectual property by training customers and dealers in usage and other business techniques to ensure maintained success.

Distribution Channel: The distribution channel is fairly in line with their customer segment, they partner with distributors, dealers, and larger partners who take an interest in their company and then move onto sell the products through their own respective distribution channels.

Revenue Streams: Envirofit’s main way to monetize is the asset sale, whether that be a direct sale or through dealers and distributors. They use dynamic pricing as opposed to fixed
Menu” pricing, since prices are highly likely to change based on the conditions of whatever country they are selling to. On their main website, they note that carbon emissions packages can be customized to individual needs.  

Customer Segments: Their customer segments include direct customers, distributors, dealers, and partners. Distributors are individuals interested in distributing, who would have the capacity to import, purchase, and receive large volumes of Envirofit products to then sell on to other customers they have contact with. Dealers are supposed to be entrepreneurs, small businesses, or retailers who would sell the clean cooking products. These would work through their nearest country office, to see how they can best service their area. Lastly, partners are much larger government or community-based organizations who would team with Envirofit to develop a program together (such as the key partners listed above.)

Customer Relationships: Envriofit maintains very strong customer relationships, to maintain their outreach and get input on where they can expand and improve. Mainly, they provide their dealers with marketing materials, which they ship with their order so they can have greater outreach. Envriofit also have constant call center offering customer service to anyone in need. Dealers or main customers would contact the office if they ever had a problem. A recent innovation which they market on their website is the mobile monitoring which they will soon be using have dealers to monitor and track sales. Also, they offer Envirofit University, and extensive business training program for all dealers and distributors, where they provide training materials for sales agents to learn about the products, usage, and customer market information.

CINQ Blog Post 9

  1. One main take-away from Guy Kawaski’s talk is to always keep moving. Kawaski mentioned various challenges, oppositions, and other barriers which stand in the way of any enterprise. Already, Project Plastikan has experienced barriers, including difficulty communicating with the UPD students, or gaining the proper scope of the ecosystem of Paradise Village. By following Kawaski’s advice, we instead need to not let these barriers deter our break-throughs, or hold us back from making progress. Communication is the best way for the Philippines group to keep moving forward. Specifically, the main issues or developments should be communicated immediately through every level of the system, from the main field team, to the UPD students, to faculty, to the SDev group. With clear and open communication, there can be more momentum and collaboration immediately put towards moving ahead and finding solutions to solve the major issues which may stand in the way momentarily. Groupme and email should be utilized constantly, to make sure everyone is being held accountable for their individual roles, and so ideas for how to deal with barriers can be shared quickly. Maintaining strong momentum and enthusiasm, through collaboration on all levels involved (since the Philippines project has many different groups contributing their work) will ensure the most efficient use of everyone’s time and ideas.
  2. The second take-away from Kawasaki is to make meaning, rather than to make money. This is extremely applicable to the Project Plastikan, as we are aiming to bring meaning and empowerment to the lives of many women in the Cooperative, as well as anyone in the local community. Granted, we are aiming to bring these women financial stability and provide them with a source of stable income. More importantly, our aim needs to be focused on empowering these women, with confidence, networking skills, a voice in the household, and educational meaning that they could not gain from simply receiving funds. Instead, this concept needs to be ingrained in the workshop with the women of the Philippines, as well as in each interaction held with the women while on the ground. Kawaski introduces the three main ways to make meaning as follows: to increase the quality of life, right a wrong, and prevent the end of something good. In our case, bringing women a way to find income will increase the quality of their lives, through access to education, healthcare, and nutrition. The plastic recycling in effect is the “right a wrong,” and ensuring that women are active members of the project plastikan system ensures that this “good” being created does not end. To ensure the sustainability, we must ensure that there is a strong education that can be carried on by people on the ground.
  3. The third take-away from Kawasaki is to get going. Thinking differently is a key element to get going, as we need to think of different ways to reach out and help these women. Most importantly, I believe this is applicable to choosing the product we wish to make through the machinery. As it stands now, the group is still unsure of exactly what product we wish to create with the recycling machines. However, our brainstorming should encourage us to look beyond the basic products, and think differently towards out-of-the-box products which will bring great innovation to the Philippines. In  particular, this may come from the mentioned agricultural products, unlocking the potential for sustainable and improved agricultural processes to be adopted in Manila, if the products are developed such as raised agricultural beds. In order to get going with the project, and further develop our customer base and other ecosystem elements, we must make initiatives on what products we will be creating, by thinking outside the box.
  4. The fourth point from Kawasaki is to develop a business model. Clearly, this is extremely relevant for the current projects underway. The specificity of these business models is extremely important for this group, as we need to narrow down what customer group the women should look to when opening their enterprises, to ensure they are reaching the correct customer bases that will show interest and bring in profits. Without a clear business model laid out ahead of time, the field workers would be showing up without a distinct plan to lay out for the women of the Paradise Village Co-op. In the business model, we need to answer the basic producer questions, as in who is involved (the Women of Paradise Village), why we are doing this project (sustainable development, social and financial leverage, etc.), where they will be made (within paradise village- still in need of a specific room layout, dependent upon the final machine system). In addition, the entrepreneur/community questions need to be planned out, which the SDev team is currently contributing towards. Most specifically, we are reaching out to Microfinance Institutions and other UN and Governmental Grants to gain funding for the program. A final piece, which will definitely need to be well planned out before the team travels, is how the system we are implementing will remain sustainable in the long run.
  5. The fifth point of Kawasaki is to provide great value to the customer, while creating a unique product. The idea behind the project is already fairly unique, as it creates a combination of social, financial, and environmental innovation for a group of people greatly in need of assistance. Overall, it is essentially important that this value and uniqueness to the project is clearly communicated to the women of Paradise Village, in order for them to fully appreciate the work which they will be taking part in, and to give them a better understanding of our team’s overall goals. These women could easily be offended or intimidated by the changes which Project Plastikan presents to their community, as it will cause disruption to their current professions (or lack thereof) or statuses as oppressed women. To hedge against the risk that women will not be accepting our system, the initial presentation at the first workshop in Manilla needs to clearly demonstrate the goals and potential for social and economic innovation. If we constantly remind the women of the long term value which their work is going towards, they will be far more likely to not become discouraged along the way or oppose our presence.


  • PARTNER NETWORK: Paradise Village, possibly local MFI partnering.
    • Educating women on our mission and skills needed for engineering and business elements of the project.
    • Building and setting up the machinery.
    • Developing a supply chain to receive plastic to be recycled.
    • Creating products
    • Packaging products
    • Setting up markets for women to sell products to
    • Set prices according to time, supplies, local prices, etc.
    • Market to these customer groups
    • Create distribution channel to transport products in a cost effective manner
    • Plastic recycling machinery
    • Plastic waste products
    • Safety equipment and storage for products
    • Marketing materials for women
    • Machine costs
    • Transportation of plastic costs
    • Costs associated with women receiving microloans/microsavings accounts
    • Travel costs
    • Electricity costs for factory room
    • Packaging costs for products
    • Costs associated with marketing business services
  • OFFER: Provide women of the Paradise Village Co-Op with plastic recycling machinery to turn excess waste into artisanal/agricultural/technical products. Additionally, provide these women with entrepreneurship knowledge and tools to be able to profit from the correct marketing and sales of such products. Education in both machine usage and entrepreneurship are essential features of the offer, as well as the physical machinery and proper supply chain set up.
    • Maintaining personal relationships with the women to check up on their progress and have any issues and input communicated back to the suppliers (to ensure sustainability of overall system and alignment of needs)
    • Developing relationships between women working together
    • Relationship between workers and outside sources of plastic waste products (“suppliers”)
    • Relationship between workers/entrepreneurs and customer groups they sell to  
    • Local marketing (via posters? Web postings? word-of -mouth? Artisanal shows? Direct travel to homes? Sell to stores?)
    • Utilize other cooperatives with experience in creating and selling products
    • Possible collaboration with Microfinance Organization to assist in financing and developing strong customer base
    • Possible grants (UN, Government, Bishop’s Council)
    • Microfinance Organizations (CARD Bank, Grameen system, etc.) (we have a full list comprised)
    • Impoverished women of Paradise Village Co-Op
    • Outside Manilla community (also most likely impoverished)
    • Wealthier customers to sell high markup-products to

CINQ Blog Week 9

  1. List ten non-obvious assumptions about your target customers (or organizations) that you need to validate.
  1. The first non-obvious assumption about women of the co-op is that they will want to run their own enterprises and learn how to use the recycling machines
  2. The second non-obvious assumption about the target customers is that these women will be allowed to come and work on the project (may not be permitted by husband or may have obligations in the home).
  3. The third non-obvious assumption about the target customers is that they will be able to learn the machinery and sales information in the short amount of time the team is on the ground.
  4. The fourth non-obvious assumption about the target customers is that they will be able to sustain the machine system and business practices once the team has come home.
  5. The fifth non-obvious assumption is that these women do not have any other form of work to turn to, and that they desire the financial support we are attempting to offer them.
  6. The sixth non-obvious assumption is that these women have little practice working with entrepreneurial ventures before the plastics selling.
  7. The seventh non-obvious assumption is that there will be a market to demand the products that the women are making through the recycling.
  8. The eighth assumption is these women will be able to understand the messages the team tries to communicate with them.
  9. The ninth assumption is that these women lack formal education, or that they could not work a more demanding job than this one.
  10. The tenth assumption about our target-customers is


  1. List ten hypotheses about your project that you need to test during fieldwork.
  1. One hypothesis about our project is that it will specially for in the designated room which we have to run the machines in.
  2. Another hypothesis about the project is that the temperatures of the room in the Philippines will be as suitable for melting and creating the products as the conditions being worked under in the US.
  3. If we give women these machines, then they will be able to use them how they are planned to be run.
  4. If these women are able to create products with recycled materials, then there will be a strong market demand for them.
  5. If the team travels to the Philippines to implement the machinery, then they will be able to get them running.
  6. Another hypothesis about the project that will need to be tested in the field is how quickly and efficiently the women can create each of the products in completion.
  7. Another hypothesis about the project that needs to be tested during fieldwork is how many women at once can be working to create one product.
  8. Another hypothesis about the project will be the efficiency of the seminars being run in the Philippines.
  9. If the women need further assistance later down the line, then they will be able to get back in contact with the group successfully.
  1. What do you think you bring to your team? How has your perception of your own strengths and weaknesses changed over the course of the class? Please be specific.


To the team, I bring a strong sense of determination. To me, this comes into play whenever I get my mind set on a goal which I want to accomplish. When joining this project, there was no doubt in my mind that all the collaborators will pull this off, or that we will see success in July in the Philippines with creating a sustainable and well-run system. This being said, this is both a strength and a weakness. The strength lies whenever barriers may arise, and my determination ensures i pursue every path possible to try and find a resolution, or a new way to view the issue that can find a way around it. I also ensure that all team members have roles delegates and that expectations are laid out before hand. For presentations for the project, I like to know that everyone is clear on what they will be bringing to the table, as well as what is expected of them overall. The weakness, however, is that sometimes this determination can make me stubborn, or can rub off the wrong way to people. Especially with teamwork, if others are not pulling their weight or seem to not be caring, I am very transparent and push everyone to do their best job. This perfectionism needs to be rained in sometimes, to prioritize what is worthwhile putting energy towards and what can be foregon for the sake of efficiency.


Over the course of the class, I have changed my perspective on my strength in communication. Previously, I believed that I was a very open communicator, and that I was comfortable communicating with mostly anyone. However, after having to reach out to close to twenty MFIs and Co-Ops in the Philippines to tell them about our project and request potential partnership, I learned that I am timid around unknown situations or people of higher power. Along the same lines, I realized I needed to not procrastinate responding to emails, as time lags can be precious when working on strict deadlines or keeping conversation momentum going.

Additionally, over the course of the class, my perspectives have also changed on what I had previously believed to be a weakness, is my skills as a researcher. Prior to this, I did not believe I was that strong as being able to research information and find helpful resources to gain information from. However, this class has helped me to greatly improve my ability and application of looking for valid and relevant sources online. For example, each week we come in to present on topics we find impactful to the project, and I have had to find cultural background, Microfinance Organizations, and geographic and economic data on the Philippines. Through this, I have been able to adapt my skills at navigating through various searches and data to pull the most and most telling information, to articulate the main points and perspectives to a wider audience.

CINQ 396 Blog Post

Although I am only in the SDev research group for the Philippines Plastic Project, my research still contributes towards the group presenting, and, therefore, there are still areas in which I can improve my work for the next presentation. First of all, feedback which was received was that the ecosystem map seemed very confusing and cluttered to some audience members. Hence, I think it should be a priority of the group to clean up this map, and make sure that only the most imperative and direct sources and sections are included here. Second, I want to make sure we have more solid communication lines in the Philippines before the next presentation. Just before the presentation, I had heard back initially from two sources. However, I want to have more solid connections established in the near future. Next, I want to have applied for some funding or grant sources. We are currently researching grants which we can apply to seek additional funding for the project and trip. Fourth, I think the group in general should have a more narrow idea behind what type of a product we will be producing with the plastic machines. In general, this will better guide the overall goals and research we are conducting for the project. Also, I believe that more statistical evidence should be included in the presentation, including history on other recycling groups or women’s co-ops currently working in the Philippines. Overall, I believe the first presentation went very well, however, the emphasis for the next presentation should be more data and research overall, as well as a more narrow idea of exactly where our project should be headed.


Our work with Project Plastikan does require IRB approvals. The main reasoning for this is the work involving human subjects. A proper IRB strategy begins with making sure we have a faculty advisor to serve as the Principal Investigator. Next, all members must complete the CITI Protecting Human Research Participants Training course online, to become trained in dealing with and researching human subjects. Next, all the proper consent documents should be filled out, primarily these will likely come from sources in Paradise Village, or any other co-op we decide to work with in the Philippines. The same goes for the off-site recruitment permission, as we will likely need to reach out to Paradise Village in advance to obtain a letter with permission. The next step would be using the IRB net to begin the online application system. There are many step-by-step instructions online to guide us through the entire process, which we should read and prepare ourselves before hand to make sure we check off all of the necessary steps and procedures before officially submitting the application. From there, it will be up to the review board to give us feedback, from which we will either be good to go or need to further edit and review our work.


Develop a Logic Model for your venture

For venture’s our Logic Model, we begin with the inputs and resources. These include our student team, the team of engineering students making the recycling machines, and all Lehigh staff involved. Additionally, this will include the group of students and faculty researchers we have begun collaborating with from the University of the Philippines. Another input which we are still looking to more narrowly define would be any other co-ops or recycling organizations in the Philippines which we will collaborate with, and based on my recent communication these may include an art co-op or another sustainability co-op in the area. The women and staff of Paradise Village would also be considered an input, as they are the main organization we are working with. The raw plastic materials, as well as the machines being constructed here, are some of the raw materials involved in the venture.

Activities of our model begins with the research we are currently conducting, to identify the best system and products we should make from the recycled plastic. At the same time, our current identification of contacts in the Philippines also constitutes an activity that goes into the system. We need to formally identify what it is we will be doing once in the Philippines, and set up a plan for how we will train and properly educate the women of Paradise VIllage on the venture we are trying to set in place, to ensure the sustainability and lasting effects of our work.

Outputs of our model include the physical products that are recycled from our machinery. Beyond this, the facilities we will build while there, to house the machinery and workers, also constitutes an output of our work. The trained female workers which we will help instruct and give them the proper tools are also key outputs.

In terms of effects, the major effect which our project will have will be the microfinancial opportunity being presented to these women, to expand their opportunities for education and entrepreneurship within their own communities. Currently, these women do not have access to means of making substantial amounts of money, or opportunities to become educated on the impact which businesses and sources of income can have on the overall quality of their lives. Through Project Plastikan, we aim to provide leverage to these women, so ensure they have a sustainable system in place that will serve as a source of income and labor that can be learned and carried on for generations to come. Additionally, we aim to reduce the current plastic waste epidemic that is taking over the area. Although a more long-term effect of our project should be to look for ways to improve recycling in these rural areas, for now a more short-term effect will be eliminating a large chunk of the current piles of plastic waste polluting the villages.  

CINQ Blog Post Week 6

Based on your life experience, skills and interests, what would a design process that is both uniquely yours and effective look like?


The first step to my unique design process would be to define a general task or issue which I want to solve, and to envision a rough estimate of what I hope to create in resolution. From my own experiences, I know that I work best when I have a clear vision in my mind of what my end goal is, and where I can plan out a path of action to guide my efforts and stay on task. Along these lines, I would then make a step by step checklist to go through all the necessary components and tasks that need to be completed along the way. Now, I will be able to check off tasks as I accomplish them, and clearly see my progress or record challenges that stand in my way. On a day to day basis, I plan out all my activities and meetings on a notepad, and as the day goes along I check off things as they are completed. This not only restores a sense of accomplishment in myself, but also ensures I don’t forget any little details.

Next, I would engage in research, most likely through as much communication as possible. I know that I learn best through listening to others and collaborating with them to come to solutions. Hence, communicating to hear ideas and issues from people involved first-hand in these scenarios ensures validity in my work and helps me to develop a true sense of where I should be heading. Personally, I would create prototypes and models and test them as I go, rather than making then entirely and then test them. I find it’s best to have progress checks along the way, so issues can be addressed and resolved one at a time as opposed to building up on one another. Further, there would need to be multiple final tests of my designs, as I like to be sure that what I’m putting forward can be trusted and will work in the long run. Here, I can also incorporate opinions and insight from others too, to further validate my work.

Implementing my design would be a big deal, since putting hard work into projects means a lot to me, and I make sure that projects I am putting forward I am proud of. Hence, I believe that the implementation phase should be somewhat of a celebration, or exciting time for all those involved.  Once this is complete, I would give it some time to take effect, then resort again to outside sources and other testing forms to receive feedback. Inevitably, very few designs run without any kinks the first time around, so I need to focus on not taking others’ opinions critically and instead use them to look at the design in a new light.

How will you validate your project concept, technology, usability, operational / business model?

As previously mentioned, I greatly value a diverse range of input and insight when constructing project concepts and models, so I will likely seek a great deal of validation through others’ opinions. Of course, these must be taken with a grain of salt, and I should have a method to distinguish those who are credible from those who may just be critical without backing to their points. In regards to the Philippines Plastic Project, we are attempting to reach out to as many cooperatives, non-profit organizations, and community resources as possible, to gather their insight into the specific problems that need to be addressed in Manila, as well as to introduce our concept and hear their feedback. Getting a strong sense of the ecosystem we will be implementing this business model into will create a structural outline for the work that needs to be done, and set us up to face any inevitable challenges in the area. As far as the technology, we are also reaching out to other plastics recycling and waste management groups, to get insight on processes and machinery they currently use to develop similar plastics recycling projects.

Articulate your philosophy of engagement with communities, partners, and markets.

Having a strong engagement with the communities and women’s cooperative once arriving to Manilla is essential to the success of this project in general. Primarily, inclusivity and transparency are two aspects which will ensure the engagement of locals, and help develop a sustainable system that will not fall apart without our help. To do so, we must make sure that we include the local groups and community people as much as possible, so they can become interested and passionate about using the machinery and being able to create their own sources of income through projects. Transparency comes into play so that these people do not feel as though we are coming in and taking over their ecosystems, or looking to completely destroy their communities for our own gains. Instead, it will be essential that we clearly deliver our message that we are proposing and offering a solution to not only the plastic waste issue, but also the gender and socioeconomic gaps in society. Again, it is of the utmost importance that we do not show any arrogance, but demonstrate a genuine interest in helping these people to recognize and unlock their potentials.

CINQ 396 Blog 3


  1. In nature, every organism, creature, habitat, and element has a specific function, but ultimately is part of a greater whole when brought together. This same systems approach to thinking can be applied to my work in the Philippines, since there are many various components that need to come together to create our system. Already, we have identified various technical, social, and environmental sources that can be utilized in our plastics recycling project. By approaching these components from nature’s standpoint, I should view each as a part of one bigger ecosystem we are creating. Second, I can use nature as a model to create a system that is resourceful and efficient with its inputs. This can be done by ensuring we utilize our resources in every way possible, whether that be in our own personal recycling or in the energy sources we pull from. Finally, we can consider the fact that the Earth is a state of dynamic equilibrium, to acknowledge the fact that needs and resources around the world are always changing. With this in mind, we can approach our project with an open mind, never getting stuck on one end goal or one set way of accomplishing tasks. Rather, we should constantly be looking to improve to work we are putting forth, and to find advancements that can create a new “equilibrium.”

  2. Life’s Principle which I can apply to my own life is to optimize rather than maximize. Often, with tasks like school work, activities, or projects, one would believe that more work means better results. However, when taking a more optimization mindset, I would be able to prioritize my time better, and recognize what school work or other activities I should allocate my time to efficiently. This way, I am able to multitask or allocate responsibilities to others, rather than taking on too many things myself. Overall, this loops back to the “common goal” mindset, to recognize that my work serves as individual parts towards a larger system.

  3. The Cradle to Cradle Design concept relates directly to our work in the Philippines, beginning with the designs being created with intention. The plastics recycling project centers around the same idea of hope that Cradle to Cradle Design supports, since we are looking to bring beneficial solutions to groups of women in need, that can create sustainable and far-reaching outcomes for the long run. I believe that embodying the mindset that competition should be used to strive together would consider with a lot of work we are looking to do. Most recently, we have put together an entire contact list of outside foundations, cooperatives, support groups, and religious and governmental organizations that we are reaching out to for support with our work. Mainly, we are looking to integrate our work into the ecosystem already in place in the Philippines, rather than come in and walk all over the developments and systems already in place in the country. I propose we look to see how we can collaborate with these groups to enhance all of our work, rather than to just have one group donating or doing work for another, or viewing the other as competition. In the long run, this will bring more sustainable, innovative, and impacting results from all those involved in helping women, plastics recycling, and other social issues in the Philippines and beyond.

  4. One example of something completely new that I learned from someone else was from my sister, who love animals greatly and wants to study animal therapy. Before talking with her, I had no idea that all sorts of animals are used as therapeutic aids to many people to assist with their symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mood disorders. Through hearing her talk and going to different animal centers with her, I was able to learn all about this world and see the passion she has towards these animals.

Another example of a skill I learned from a friend was python coding and other computer science information. My roommate is currently taking three computer science courses and, being a finance and economics major, I knew very little about anything related to coding. She was able to show me the basics, and even one time help me through coding a simple text line for fun once, although I still would need more practice to gain a stronger understanding of the entire concept. Still, it was impressive that she could help me in learning just the basics.

A third concept that I learned from another individual was all about Chabbad and other Jewish celebrations. At home, the immediate area around me is predominantly Catholic, so I had not been exposed much to traditional Jewish culture. However, freshmen year the two roommates across the hall from me had both attended jewish day school and sleep away camp for their whole lives. They invited me to attend Chabbad with them on Fridays, where I was able to experience the traditions and ceremonies that are celebrated in the Jewish faith, and enjoy the large meal that brings many people from school together.  

CINQ 396 Blog #2

In our meeting this week, our group discussed the importance of establishing our connections and resources for the plastics project, since these groups will not only guide the vision and exact goals for the project, but also assist in getting a feel for the scope of the environmental, social, and economic conditions existing in Manilla. As we discussed, there is still some clarification that needs to take place in terms of defining exactly the roles of these stakeholders, or our relations to them, but as we advance in the project we will be working towards answering such questions. The first major stakeholder for our project is the women’s co-op we are partnering with. They will be our main source of information on how the co-op currently operates and what needs they are fulfilling, as well as what they are looking for from us.

The second major stakeholder for our project is the University of the Philippines, located in Manilla. We plan to get in contact with students and faculty there to help learn about the entire ecosystem of Manila, as well as what sorts of research or advancements they are currently working on there. Secondly, we can ask them their thoughts on the direction we should be focusing our efforts, and ensure that our work will align with the needs and goals of socioeconomic climate in Manila.

The third major stakeholder for the plastics project is Lehigh University. Lehigh is sponsoring the research and travels taking place both on our campus and in the Philippines. Lehigh’s staff have established the parameters for these research projects and serve to assist in the technicalities of our everyday work.

The fourth major stakeholder would be the corporations and foundations that sponsor the co-op in Manila. From my original research, I pulled the name Children’s International, which is a foundation sponsoring Paradise Village, where they have already established assistance through a community center and healthcare programs. Another one is called GABRIELLA, who is the National Alliance of Women’s Organizations in the Philippines.

The last group of other stakeholders for the project is local Churches as well as the Bishop’s Council in the Philippines. Specifically, the Bishop’s Council will be our strongest support for social support with our work. Having them assist in any way will add tremendously to the validity and support of the project.

To validate the plastics project, I plan to emphasize the fact that this project is extremely multi-dimensional. The plastics recycling project perfectly aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) currently in place, directly tackling key issues of gender equality, poverty, and innovation and infrastructure. The purpose and goals of this project, once formally laid out, will clearly establish the wide range of “problem” areas being targeted, and the fact that investing energy and money into the plastics recycling group does far more for society than just get rid of bottles lying around. There are exponentially large returns which will come from sponsoring the women’s co-op, giving women direct access to entrepreneurial leverage that provides not only a source of income, but an independence which unfortunately could not have been achieved on their own. Giving our project a socially impacting goal, in addition to the environmental aim, boosts the personal appeal, allowing outsiders to see the lives being touched through our work.

Another way to enhance the credibility of my work is to collect research from direct sources. There is a power that comes from face-to-face or over the phone interactions that simply cannot be met reading an article online. A goal of mine is to reach out to as many direct sources as possible, and hear from their perspective the topics of research we will be looking into. More specifically, this will include reaching out to the Children’s Institute, who sponsor the co-op and run many of the community center events and activities. Further, this will assist me in paying attention to perceptions, which is another powerful tool I plan to utilize that will greatly enhance the credibility of my work. When getting information and ideas directly from individuals involved in various aspects of the project, whether that be a representative from the women’s co-op or a student from the University of Manilla, I will be better fit to see our project from many different perspectives, and understand the true needs that should be met and what role they hope for us to fulfill.

A third way to further validate my project this semester will be to admit when I cannot find something or do not know an answer. As Chris talked about with answering Q&A from presenting, there is no worse mistake than to pretend to know something when you do not. Not only is it morally wrong to lie, but this further takes away from the credibility of the work you have done correctly. There will definitely be roadblocks and dead ends with my project, but it is in my best interests to ask others for assistance when needed or admit that there may be some questions we are simply unable to find answers to. Acknowledging this fact and finding ways to work around mistakes or unanswered questions allows the project to find an alternative path that can lead to further innovation and discovery, rathering than wasting time and energy on an obsolete one.

CINQ 396 Blog Post 1

Originally, I enrolled in the SDEV 201 class, Solutions to Sustainable Development, to build on what I had learned in the Challenges of Sustainable Development course last year. I heard that the Sustainable Development Solutions class offered students a unique opportunity to work in small groups to problem solve and work through real-life social, economic, health, or other challenges impacting the earth’s sustainability. This seemed like an excellent opportunity to build my creativity and process-oriented skills, which cannot be developed in lectures or by writing papers. Instead, I wanted to work with other students, from various majors, minors, and backgrounds, to open up my eyes to look at real life problems from more angles than just one, and to never stop questioning different ways to go about handling challenges placed before you.

Once I heard that this Sustainable Development course would be paired with the Creative Inquiry course, I was at first overwhelmed by the idea of assisting on an Impact to Inquiry Project, intimidated by the challenges of working on a tangible project on a global scale. Upon deep consideration, however, I grew overwhelmingly excited by the prospect of working on a such a project, and opened my eyes to the tremendous room for personal and professional development that can come from this incredible opportunity. As a junior, I only have so much time left at Lehigh, and believe that getting to work with the GSFs will expose me to new ways of thinking and some of the most passionate work that I will ever take part in. The Plastics in the Philippines Project will be so much more than just a solutions proposal that could be written in any classroom, by any student. Instead, I am both honored and excited to able to participate in work that will impact real lives, including my own. To me, this will allow me to gain so much more than just a degree from Lehigh.

As a finance and economics student, I envision this course will open my eyes to research and educational opportunities which exist in global economics and sustainability. I envision myself coming away with a deeper understanding for the direct link between economic, social, and sustainability factors and their impacts on real lives. Although introductory level marketing and business classes have helped build my foundation as a student, I hope this course will challenge me to think about real-world problems, problems far more important than I will have to face in my lifetime. Having knowledge about how to spark economic growth or how successful Microfinance can be is one thing, but to see tangible impacts and changes be made, there must be real effort and changes made.

I am extremely enthusiastic to build upon my research skills through this course. Recently, I have taken an interest in learning about international economics, and the different issues facing the growth and development in some countries today. In particular, I am fascinated by the direct link between economic and social development, such as how microfinance investments in extremely impoverished women can yield extremely high returns and can be used as an instrument to break social barriers in place. From this course, I will be able to perform real-life research on similar issues for my project in the Philippines, and interpret the sustainability and social issues from an economic and business-driven perspective. The great deal of responsibility and resources that this course entails will build my research and collaboration skills that will be necessary to conduct graduate level research on such issues one day. Beyond this, I hope to undergo my own self-discovery and become personally connected to the project and people that I work with, since this course dives deeper than any text book ever could.

One solution to the vision problem would be bringing in optometrists to not only perform basic, quick eye tests and examinations for mass groups of people, but also to bring education and awareness to this issue. As it stands, the people suffering from vision problems in countries like Kenya have no sources to turn to learn about the impact their vision is having on their lives, or that medical and eyewear solutions exist for such problems. By investing in having some well-trained optometrists who can come in temporarily, to offer inexpensive and very quick eye exams, tests, or other operations, they can solicit members of society to become their mentees, and train them to adapt the basic skills and knowledge needed to perform such tests on their own. Investing in education is one of the most powerful and inexpensive tools that can be offered to society, and there certainly exists the human capital willing to put in the effort if properly trained and challenged. Researchers for larger eyewear and medical companies should research and donate capital to develop less expensive models of their existing high eyewear. Models that would be more suitable for production and sale in the foreign locations open doors for small businesses to operate in these impoverished economies. Beginning with smaller scale developments and education can have exponentially high returns from societies and builds a strong foundation for more people to become interested in studying and investing in working to learn further solutions for eye care, creating a chain-reaction for society.