As a dual degree MBA/MPH student with a concentration in Global Health, I knew that I wanted my internship in the summer after my first year to be working for an international company outside of the United States. I was also hoping to get work experience in Sub-Saharan Africa after having several brief prior experiences in Kenya. I was thrilled when BU alumni Paul Chen and several professors at the School of Management and the School of Public Health contacted me last spring about the potential opportunity to work in Ghana with Vestergaard Frandsen, a Swiss-based company that operates under a unique humanitarian entrepreneurship business model.
Vestergaard Frandsen (VF) has turned corporate social responsibility into their core business. They are most well-known for their long-lasting insecticide treated bed nets which help prevent malaria. However, the work I completed for them over the summer involved the LifeStraw, a water filtration device designed to prevent diarrhea which results from drinking contaminated water. It’s not always popular to talk about, but diarrhea is the number 2 cause of death in developing countries such as Ghana, especially for children under 5. In fact, diarrhea kills more children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined! Fortunately, filtering water with a high membrane filter such as the LifeStraw in the house immediately before consumption can reduce diarrhea by up to 63%.
Living in Ghana was an adventure in itself. I was fortunate enough to travel and work with two other Boston University students for this internship and was definitely grateful that we could explore Accra together. Additionally, Kristen McCormack, faculty director of the Public and Non-Profit program at SMG and recent alumna Sayaka Koseki were with us in Accra for the first week of our internship to make sure we got off to a good start. I’m definitely excited about the relationship that BU has formed with VF and I look forward to seeing what kind of collaborations we can work on in the future. Stay tuned for details about a symposium that we’re planning in January where we will highlight some of our work.
The BU Team with co-workers from Vestergaard Frandsen’s Accra office:
Here is a picture of us after taking a dance class:
The LifeStraw water filter being used in a rural school that we visited: