Making the Most of a Crazy Supply Chain: Real World Learning via Real World Situations

5/15/14 – This guest post is written by Dr. Susan Golicic, Professor of Supply Chain Management in the College of Business at Colorado State University. She teaches in both the Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise MBA program as well as the undergraduate program, and shares her experiences integrating the two. This is her second post on this blog – read her first post about mentoring GSSE teams here.

One of Luciernaga's distribution routes in Honduras

One of Luciernaga’s distribution routes in Honduras

GSSE ventures try to connect the base of the pyramid with the basic goods and services we take for granted every day.  Additionally these ventures are trying to keep their costs as low as possible in order for their offerings to be affordable.

Due to the markets in which these ventures operate, there are interesting distribution challenges to get to customers – from nomadic suppliers roaming across large geographical areas to washed-out dirt roads leading to rural villages.  There is often poor infrastructure into and within the target countries due to lack of resources, the terrain, governmental trade policies and potential political or military conflict.  All of this can equate to higher supply chain costs.

For the past several semesters, I have had my undergraduate logistics courses help some of these ventures by using their distribution issues for a live term project.  The project provides the undergrads with experience developing international solutions for real start-up companies and simultaneously gives the GSSE students recommendations for tackling their issues.  Past projects include determining:

  • If a centralized or decentralized distribution network is more effective for water filter production and distribution in India (AYZH – Cohort 2)
  • If a centralized or decentralized distribution network is more effective for water filter production and distribution in Kenya (Running Water – Cohort 2)
  • The most efficient distribution network to get cashmere from Mongolian goat herders to a textile plant in China (Noya Fibers – Cohort 5)
  • The most efficient logistical network to get solar lamps from China to consumers in rural Honduras and Nicaragua (Luciérnaga – Cohort 6)
  • The most efficient logistical network to connect urban garden suppliers to customers such as schools or restaurants in Brazil (Fresco de Dentro – Cohort 7)

Not only do the GSSE students find the recommendations helpful and some quite feasible, the logistics students have appreciated the experience and commented that they feel good about helping these social ventures get started.

“Working on the Fresco de Dentro project was a great opportunity to get real world experience. It gave our group a chance to really understand the struggles a new venture has to go through when trying to bootstrap a business from the ground up. While working on this project it was difficult to provide Fresco de Dentro a feasible logistics network since there was so much ambiguity, which led to in depth research to achieve sound assumptions. This project was a great way to push ourselves and apply what we have been learning all semester directly into our recommendations.”

– Alexis Delima

“When working with the GSSE students I was forced to find real world solutions to my coursework. Rather than formulating solutions from concepts in a textbook, I was accountable for providing feasible information that was practical. This collaboration took my coursework from the classroom to the professional world.”

– Alexandra Fish

This entry was posted in Global Orientation, Highly Applied Curriculum, Sustainable Enterprise and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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