On February 25th, CID hosted Debbie Aung Din, the Co-Founder of Proximity Designs, to discuss Can Social Enterprises Fill the Market and Public Sector Gaps in Tough Places?  Proximity Designs is a social business in Myanmar that delivers innovative products to farm families living in poverty. In the presentation, Debbie spoke about her journey in social entrepreneurship and provided insight from experiences with her own enterprise. Maryam Guerrab, a CID Student Ambassador, moderated the event.

Throughout the presentation, Debbie used Proximity Designs as a case study to give an idea of one of the ways to start and scale a social enterprise. She highlighted the difficulties and tactics of operating during times of crisis, as Myanmar is presently facing political, economic, environmental, and health crises. She addressed the importance and usefulness of a social enterprise model to fill market and public sector gaps; social enterprises see the end user, of whom they are trying to help with their product or service, as a customer who has autonomy and choice in the relationship.

A crucial aspect of sound customer relationships, enterprise scalability, and most importantly, overall impact, is the degree at which the customer is proximate to the design of the product. Debbie noted that the design of her products is based around empathy, centering trust between farmers and the company. Farmers in Myanmar have a lot of influence on the design of the products that Proximity Designs sells; in turn, the company is able to continue to sell more products while farmers simultaneously produce more and better crops and improve their livelihoods.

The Center for International Development Speaker Series continues on March 11th at 12:00 pm featuring Prof. Caroline Buckee and Prof. Satchit Balsari who will discuss 'Data in Crisis - Rethinking Disaster Preparedness in the United States'. Register here to attend.


CID Student Ambassador Author:

Maryam Tourk, a Student at Harvard College 


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