Frequently asked questions
Why should I apply to Emzingo|U?
Great question! We always say that everyone comes to Emzingo|U for different reasons. For some it is an intense interest to continue personal development and leadership. For others, it’s the excitement of learning more about social impact or entrepreneurship. For many, it is a chance to experience international immersion and learn about a new country. For others, it is directly focused on the consulting experience and a chance to leverage this unique experience to secure a consulting position (or other career changes) upon graduation. For nearly everyone though, it is a combination of all these elements into a life-changing experience. Emzingo|U really exists to challenge you, to push you out of your comfort zone, and show you all the many ways that the private and public sector can work together to make positive social change. We bring together students from different schools, different backgrounds, different fields of study and different perspectives of life and challenge them by offering real hands-on experiences where they are both learning from others and assisting others. We hope to inspire you to solve global challenges, prepare you to do so, and connect you to the organizations and companies that are doing tremendous work to change the status quo. We are a family. We are a movement. We are network of amazing people, doing incredible things, to help ourselves but more importantly others.
Who can apply to which program?
Global Impact Fellowship – undergraduates or recent graduates. We do have a preference for older students or those with significant experience nationally or internationally.
NexGen Consulting Corps – graduate students and recent graduates. Most students come from programs such as MBA, MPP, MPH, and Masters in International Relations. We give preference to students with at least 3-5 years working experience.
Social Impact Lab – IE IMBA business school students. SILs are often open to students from other universities as well.
Impact Learning Treks – highly dependent on the university, and typically reserved only for undergraduate or graduate students. Most of our ILTs are designed specially with one university and its students. Occasionally we do have some open enrollment programs.
Faculty-led Social Impact Courses – highly dependent on the university, and typically reserved only for undergraduate or graduate students. Our SIC are designed with university staff to combine virtual consulting projects and cultural immersion in an international destination.
NexGen Impact Lab – Graduate students from programs such as MBA, MPP, MPH, and Masters in International Relations
Virtual Impact Program – Undergraduates of any background
What kind of organizations would I work with? Can you name a few?
Emzingo|U has a solid foundation of field partners, in all of our locations, that we have worked with year after year. In addition to repeat partners, we continually add new field partners that appeal to the interests of our students.
We work with all different types of nonprofits and social enterprises. These include very large multinational nonprofits that you may have heard of such as the Peruvian Red Cross, World Wildlife Fund, or Action against Hunger, amongst others. We also work with small often community based nonprofits that are helping orphan and vulnerable children or promoting access to education like Nanga Vhutshilo in Soweto or Peru Champs in Lima. (Note that Nanga’s new website was designed by GIF fellows!) We have a growing number of small, startup social enterprises like organizations trying to bring clean toilets to areas without sewage in Peru like X-Runner, or Favela Verde in Brazil that is trying to bring ecotourism to the favelas to generate job growth and promote sustainability.
We typically source twice as many projects as we need per program so that students are drawn to the organization that is most interesting to them. These organizations focus on a broad range of issues such as education, women’s empowerment, youth development, health, sanitation, environment, and entrepreneurship.
What kind of projects would I work on? Give some examples.
We source projects that have very different focuses and workstreams. All of our projects are complex in nature, and no student will ever be making copies or just getting coffee. We conduct a needs-based assessment with each organization to discover how and where our fellows can add the most value. Most of our projects are designed to accomplish a strategic organizational idea or goal that they have been unable to implement due to a shortage of human or financial capital.
Before ranking projects, students receive detailed terms of references for each project that highlights the exact workstreams and deliverables students could choose to work on in-country. During orientation we also work with each student team to frame their challenge and develop a work plan that outlines exactly what work streams they will focus on for the remainder of the program. Students also receive support from their locally sourced mentor, who is either a consultant or a subject matter expert, who helps them design and oversees their deliverables. Emzingo also checks in every 2-3 weeks to monitor the progress of each project
NexGen and SIL fellows are involved in high-level strategic projects that require several years of working experience and ideally some consulting experience. These projects typically involve the design of strategic plans, economic or financial modeling, organizational restructuring, or operational efficiency. Management experience is highly valuable. Sample projects include the design of a 3 year business plan for a women’s nonprofit organization hoping to launch an income generating social enterprise; the design of an economic model to measure the cost-effectiveness of malnutrition programs; or creating an impact assessment tool-kit for a small community based organization working with the homeless in South Africa. Check out a more detailed sample project below.
Puriy & Padma: Padma support victims of domestic violence by providing psychological support and vocational training to improve the financial security, self-esteem and emotional stability of the women they work with. They also developed a social enterprise called Puriy, with the support of Emzingo fellows, to offer these women economic opportunities outside the home. www.padmaperu.com
Sample Project: Two graduate students, one from NYU and the other from IE Business School, helped Padma conduct a feasibility study to determine whether to launch a small bakery or a leather baby shoe company. After a couple of weeks of research, interviews, and benchmarking, they determined that a leather baby shoe company would be more profitable, therefore, they developed a business plan for their social enterprise, called Puriy. They also helped to find and hire an operational manager to jumpstart the project when they left. Puriy now sells these baby shoes in local stores throughout Lima and hopes to expand internationally.
Most of our undergraduate projects assist our field partner organizations with research, new project development, evaluation of ongoing programs, or branding and marketing strategies. Past projects have included the rebranding of a small nonprofit in Soweto with a new website and marketing materials; the design of a personal development program for unemployed youth; or researching the challenges faced by mothers of children with HIV and developing a working group to support these women with tools they need to keep their children healthy. Others have included reviewing and improving a business plan and income revenue models for a small startup, or working with rural communities to discover which new programs can help improve their quality of life. Check out one detailed project below.
Nanga Vhutshilo is an integrated child/family centred program for orphans, vulnerable, HIV/AIDS affected children, their caregivers and families. www.nangavhutshilo.org.za
Sample Project: In June 2015, GIF fellows from Princeton and McGill designed a completely new website and brand for Nanga Vhutshilo to encapsulate their organization as more than an Early Childhood Development Center (see logo!) and to display the massive impact they have had on the community. They also helped build a human centered budgeting and expense system. The feasibility plan for the ECD center itself was built by Emzingo NexGen MBA Fellows from IE Business School in 2013.
Can I chose which project to work on?
Like working for most consulting companies, you will not know exactly what project you will be working on until you are accepted. Upon acceptance into the program, we typically source many more projects than we actually need so that you can offer us your preferences (rated 1-4). We then look to create teams that balance competencies, skill-sets, work and life experiences, and finally gauge compatibility with your other project partners and your field partner. In the end, you have very much input into the type of organization and project you would like to work on, but we make the final decision. Most fellows do receive their first or second choice and are very happy with their projects. Some schools do require a specific type of project (i.e. only health-based, only nonprofits, only social enterprises) as well, which we try our best to accommodate.
How do you find the projects and organizations?
When we first started Emzingo|U, we made a conscious effort to find the best organizations that were having the largest impact in their communities. This first batch of organizations referred others who suggested others until we developed a large, impactful cohort of organizations in each country where we work. In some locations, like South Africa, our fellows have become so well known that now organizations come to us directly, by submitting applications for our projects.
We work with these organizations year after year. This means that we offer our clients consistent support as well as resources and a strong network to help them implement our students’ recommendations. This also means that students will often have a plethora of resources and findings from past projects that they can build on instead of “reinventing the wheel”. Our shorter format programs, Impact Learning Treks, often address challenges identified by past fellows who did not have the time or the resources to address these during their fellowship period.
We continue to add organizations every year to our ecosystem, which are doing tremendous work in the areas that are of the most interest to our students.
How many students do you have in your cohorts?
This depends on the time of the year and the country. Typically cohorts have 10 – 20 students per country. We often require a minimum of 10 students to launch a specific location. If we do not receive the minimum number of confirmed applicants, then we will often redistribute those students to other countries.
How do I apply? Do you accept all students?
Emzingo|U has a rigorous application process for our long format experiences (NexGen and GIF). All students are required to complete an application with several essays, as well as an individual and group interview. These applications can be found online.
We do not accept all students who apply, and students are ranked on all three components of their application. Depending on the year and number of applications, we typically have about a 45% acceptance rate.
Our shorter format Impact Learning Treks are often built in conjunction with the university. It is typically up to that university to select the students that are the most excited to learn about social impact and responsible leadership. Students applying from outside universities must also submit an application for these experiences and will be selected based on the quality of their responses.
Do you have multi-schools cohorts?
Yes, we sure do. We offer university specific programs and open-enrollment programs. Unless otherwise specified, most of our long format programs are open to students from universities all over the world, with applicants from US, Canada, Europe, India, Singapore, Kenya, and more. Most of our long-format programs have students from at least 3 or 4 different universities and at least 6 different nationalities, if not more. For example, we once had 17 students in Peru from 13 different countries!
We have established partnerships with universities to send a specific number of “sponsored” students each year on our programs. Our largest partners, IE Business School, McGill, Princeton, and others, typically either fully or partially sponsor the program tuition and living expenses. If your school does not have a direct partnership with Emzingo, we encourage you to explore funding options on and off campus.
How much does the program cost?
As students know, there are many expenses involved in traveling, living, and learning abroad whether for short or longer term. As a social enterprise ourselves, Emzingo does charge a tuition fee for learning & development, coaching, mentoring, and program management as well as a housing and logistics fee for our programs. These costs are often either fully or partially covered by the university for our longer-format programs and depend on the type of program and the length of time in country. For the NexGen Consulting Corps, students can elect to find their own accommodation and transportation, reducing the independent cost on the student. This option is not available for our younger undergraduates, since for their safety, we prefer to house them in safe and central locations as a cohort. The projects themselves are also unpaid.
If your university is not directly affiliated with Emzingo, we do encourage students to seek out alternative methods of funding both on and off campus. Many students in the past have launched successful crowdfunding campaigns to help fund the experience themselves. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to find out more.
Where do students live during the programs?
For our short format programs, students live in shared hotels or bed and breakfasts. During our long format Global Impact Fellowship, Social Impact Lab, and NexGen Consulting Corps, students live in shared apartments or houses in central and safe neighborhoods together as a cohort. We try to foster a sense of community and students are encouraged to share meals, work together, and help others with their projects. Please note: Students in our NexGen Consulting Corps have the option to select their own housing and transport if they wish, though we strongly encourage the housing and transportation option offered by Emzingo|U.
I am not currently a student, can I still apply?
Though most of our programs are designed for undergraduate or graduate students, recent graduates and young professionals are welcome to apply. The NexGen Consulting Corps in particular is open to young professionals with 3+ years work experience, especially those with consulting experience. Please note that individuals who are not currently in school however, or who have recently graduated, typically do not have access to university funding. They therefore will have to raise or fund their own funding.
If I participate, do I need a visa?
The need for a visa will depend on your nationality and traveling destination. Typically, the most critical pieces of information required for Visa applications are your accommodation information, flight details, and description of what you will be doing. Emzingo can provide information and documentation for your application as necessary, but the student is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the Visa is obtained.
What is the structure of your programs?
GIF, NexGen, Social Impact Lab (SIL)
Our longer-format programs, the Global Impact Fellowship, NexGen Consulting Corps, and Social Impact Lab, have a similar structure. Each begins with a one week intensive orientation that exposes students to the main social and economic challenges of the country. Students visit leading nonprofits, social enterprises, and responsible businesses. Students also work on framing the challenge for their project and creating a work plan. Here too, we first introduce the leadership development components and deep reflection. NOTE: The Social Impact Lab is an IE Business School program specifically designed for IE students.
For the remaining 5-8 weeks, students work in teams on their social impact consulting project. The workday is a typical 9am-5pm day, Monday to Thursday. Most Fridays we have ‘Emzingo Days’, where we bring the entire cohort together to attend workshops or visit leading organizations to learn about impact investing, microfinance, business for the bottom of the pyramid, environmental sustainability, social entrepreneurship and more. We also host coaching, reflection, and leadership workshops. Student teams are also encouraged to meet with their mentor every two weeks.
Impact Learning Treks (ILTs)
Our short format programs are typically 5-14 days. They combine academic learning, cultural immersion, and social impact activities and seminars. Participants also partake in a social innovation workshop or mini consulting project to assist a local nonprofit or social enterprise. Prepare yourself – the program is very busy! But you are guaranteed to learn a lot about social impact and yourself.
Virtual Programs: The structure is similar to GIF, NexGen, Social Impact Lab (SIL), while everything is virtual. Consulting project done remotely from your laptop. Travel add on is possible for 1 week in host country after the program.
Where do you host your Impact Learning Treks?
We run ILTs in South Africa, Peru, Brazil, Spain, and the United States. The 5-14 day trips aim to expose students to social entrepreneurship and innovation as well as inspire them to find ways to incorporate social impact into their daily lives and careers. All treks include either a Social Innovation Workshop (see below) or a mini consulting project where students meet and help solve a real challenge of a local nonprofit or social enterprise. Impact Learning Treks are co-created and can also have specialized themes such as Engineering for Impact, Environmental Sustainability, and Water and Sanitation amongst others. We have successfully run amazing Impact Learning Treks with students from the University of Southern California, IE Business School, Wits University in South Africa, University of Chicago – Booth, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, and La Universidad de Pacifico in Peru. Email ILT@emzingo.com to find out more.
South Africa: During our South Africa trek, students learn about the history of apartheid and the social and economic challenges that they country is still facing over 20 years later. They visit amazing nonprofits, social enterprises, and responsible businesses that are trying to make a difference in their communities. They have the opportunity to immerse themselves and explore Johannesburg, Soweto, and Cape Town during these treks.
Peru: In Peru, students first learn about the Shining Path and the years of terrorism that engulfed Peru , of which the after effects can still be felt today. They meet with wonderful organizations that are looking to improve sanitation, health, and education systems as well as the lives of underprivileged women. Of course no trip to Peru would be complete without a visit to Cusco, and Machu Picchu, where they also get to meet with social enterprises working in the poorer highland communities.
Brazil: Students get to explore Rio de Janeiro and the spiraling favelas of Rocinha just at its border. Here they discover the lingering effects of inequality and explore the social innovation that has emerged to improve the health and education of all Brazilian citizens. They also explore the world of social impact and investment as well as they lovely beaches, music, and culture of course.
Spain: Our programs in Spain focus on how social business is helping Spain (and Europe) recover from one of the most profound economic crisis of our generation. In Madrid, meet impact investors and start-up incubators that are promoting entrepreneurship as the path towards recovery. See first-hand how history, culture, and tradition have deeply affected business and society. In Barcelona, a center of innovation and technology, learn from professionals who are using social impact and entrepreneurship to make real changes. See how a center for social innovation drives networks and collaboration across sectors. Study different businesses (and different business models) to see how they are directly combating social injustice.
USA: During our trip to the US, students get to explore New York and/or Boston. Here they discover that despite its outer core, the United States still has many societal challenges that they are trying to overcome including urban poverty, inequality, gun violence, and injustice. Students learn about these issues but also discover the incredible hub of social entrepreneurship and innovation that these cities have become. They meet social entrepreneurs and responsible businesses that are looking to right some of these wrongs, both locally and internationally. With visits to the UN, the Center for Social Innovation, and the growing B-Corps movement, they are exposed to several avenues of creating positive social impact.
What is a Social Innovation Workshop?
Inspired by IDEO’s Human-Centered Design, and Design-Thinking Methodology, Emzingo has translated these principles into a consulting methodology. The workshop introduces participants to human-centered concepts and tools, and provides the opportunity to apply them through interactive exercises.
The workshop is the culmination of a series of days focused on experiential learning and the application of Human Centered Consulting, Design Thinking, and Theory U principles.
The Social Innovation Workshop leverages Emzingo’s Impact Design Diamond™ and integrates these different methodologies to develop creative and relevant solutions for our field partners.
The experience is complemented with facilitated reflection to internalize the learning from the workshop. We wrap up the session with a debrief in which participants will be asked to reflect on the experience and discuss ways to improve collaboration within their teams.
Can I earn credits for your program?
Many of our programs, both short and long format, are offered for credit at the host university. This is highly dependent on each university and Emzingo works with university staff to establish the credit options. Several universities offer internship credit for our GIF and NexGen programs and others offer international exchange credits for our Impact Learning Treks.
What does 'Emzingo' mean?
Emzingo is a Swahili word typically spelled m’zingo. It means “community” or “circle” in different dialects. It stresses the importance of the community and bringing others together to work together. One of our founders, a Haitian-Congolese American, speaks Swahili and thought the word held a lot of meeting for what we intended to accomplish. We added the “E” to make it easier for all of us Anglophones to pronounce.
Our tagline: “Preparing Leaders. Empowering communities.” refers to our dual purpose of building responsible leaders by engaging them in social impact projects that help amazing organizations have an even greater impact in their communities. All of our projects look to build the capacity and capabilities of local organizations and leaders and to broaden and strengthen their reach within their communities.
What is Emzingo|U?
Emzingo is a social enterprise and Certified B-Corporation that aims to prepare the next generation of leaders to be more responsible, empathetic, self-aware, and culturally sensitive to the world around them and the problems within it.
We design life-changing experiences that engage future leaders in social impact consulting projects and workshops to help nonprofits and social enterprises overcome key strategic challenges. In doing so, we aim to empower and strengthen the organizations and communities in which we work while our participants equally learn from and assist these organizations using the skills they have attained through their studies, their careers, and Emzingo design and strength- building workshops.
Through long and short engagements both locally and abroad, we hope to expose participants to the world of social entrepreneurship and innovation and help them find their place within it. In doing so we hope to inspire our participants to find purpose in their careers, prepare them for an increasingly global world, and help connect the private and public sectors in an effort to create lasting, positive change.
When and why was Emzingo founded?
Emzingo was founded in 2010 by three MBA students at IE Business School in Madrid. Ramon Marmolejos, Drew Bonfiglio, and Amani M’bale, began their MBA at the onslaught of the financial crisis in 2008. Just about the time they arrived in Madrid, Lehman Brothers collapsed. With the ensuing crisis that enveloped the entire global economy, massive bailouts that shook Capitol Hill, and the irresponsible BP oil spill that spread through the Gulf in 2010, they realized that we not only had a crisis of financial markets, but that we also had a crisis of LEADERSHIP in the world. They realized the need for this next generation of leaders to be so much more responsible to society, to each other, and to the environment. Though the business environment had changed, not much of business teaching had changed. And they recognized they needed to disrupt the way that education was taught, by actually asking students to get their hands dirty and learn first hand about the major problems facing the world and society including poverty, inequality, corruption, greed, and failed leadership. Students had to open their own eyes to the world around them and leave their comfort zones, to achieve a true, deeper learning. Learning by doing. Learning by thinking. And perhaps most importantly, Learning by Reflecting. This was, above all, a leadership crisis, and they decided to focus on providing responsible leaders with the tools to take responsible actions.
At the same time, the three founders had experience in the public and non-profit sectors. They observed that many organizations often struggled because they lacked the strategic vision or processes that were present in the for-profit sector. So they had an epiphany. What if we combined on-the-ground leadership training with consulting projects that brought for-profit frameworks to the public sector and brought public-sector experience to the for-profit sector? With that, our award-winning Emzingo NexGen Fellowship was born. And we have thankfully been growing ever since.
Where is your team located?
Emzingo is a very virtual team. We have staff members in all of the locations where we host experiences. These cities include Lima, Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg, Madrid/Barcelona, Montreal and New York/Boston.
We were founded at IE Business School in Madrid, where one of our managing partners is based. We run local workshops in Madrid and also host international students to discover the world or social entrepreneurship and innovation in our different locations.