Could bamboo create jobs and sustainable energy in India? Ten Chicago Booth students in the school's new Global Social Impact Practicum (GSIP) spent winter quarter working to answer this question.

GSIP is led by Booth's Social Enterprise Initiative (SEI) and supported by the Tata Trusts, India largest philanthropic organization. Beginning with a trip to India this winter, students worked with the Trusts on a consulting project exploring the use of bamboo as a clean and renewable energy source and potential driver of employment.

Caroline Grossman, SEI's interim director of research and an adjunct assistant professor of strategy at Booth, led the class and helped facilitate connections to UChicago resources to better understand poverty alleviation programs and elements like geographic spearhead bamboo-based enterprise development in India, strengthening backward linkages to the benefit of marginalized communities and making bamboo a crop of choice.

Throughout the trip and winter quarter, students blogged about their experience and the class's findings.

About the Tata Trusts:

Tata Trusts are amongst India's oldest, non-sectarian philanthropic organisations that work in several areas of community development. Since its inception, Tata Trusts have played a pioneering role in transforming traditional ideas of charity and introducing the concept of philanthropy to make a real difference to communities. Through a grant-making, direct implementation and co-partnership strategy, the Trusts support and drive innovation in areas of Natural Resources Management, Education, Healthcare & Nutrition, Rural Livelihoods, Enhancing Civil Society & Governance, Arts, Crafts & Culture and Diversified Employment. Trusts engage competent persons and government bodies, international agencies and like-minded private sector organizations to nurture a self-sustaining eco-system that collectively works across all these areas.

Tata Trusts continue to be guided by the principles of its founder Jamsetji Tata. With the founder’s vision of proactive philanthropy and his approach to ‘giving’, the Trusts catalyze societal development while ensuring that initiatives and interventions have a contemporary relevance to the nation. In addition to promoting and facilitating initiatives in elementary education, Tata Trusts also awards fellowships, merits and scholarships to students pursuing higher studies. It grooms social scientists, cancer specialists, nuclear scientists and distinguished institutional administrators who in turn, have strived to make the country a power to reckon with in various fields including science and technology. The Trusts also support causes and initiatives that provide disaster relief and aides rescue work in case of calamities. The Trusts not only assists by providing grants and helping mobilize funds, it also offers on-ground support directly as well as in partnership with other stakeholders.

In order to enhance impact and ensure that interventions are sustainable, Trusts have adopted a cluster-based approach, supporting multiple interlinked activities in identified clusters of contiguous villages across select geographies across India. Coupled with this, is the Trusts’ strict adherence to robust financial systems being put in place with all partner organisations. Today, spread over 16 states and 170 districts across the country, programmes supported by the Trusts reach over 800,000 households through an efficient network of partner organisations. Additionally, the Trusts grants and initiatives in the especially in the area of educational attainment, significantly contributes to building intellectual capital in the country.

About the Social Enterprise Initiative:

The Social Enterprise Initiative (SEI) at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business supports the aspirations of students and alumni to impact societal issues and furthers research on how institutions help solve social problems. Through ongoing curricular development, alumni and student programming, and support of faculty pursuits, SEI builds on Chicago Booth's commitment to rigorous analysis and its discipline-based approach to understanding organizations, markets, and policy.