Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Update from Beijing (Originally published on 6/16/10)

My WDI internship officially began on June 1, 2010. Prior to that, I was in Bandung, Indonesia, working on a sustainable agriculture project involving dried mango exports with four other Ross MBA students. It was a fantastic experience and I’m hoping the lessons learned about the difficulties of running a social enterprise will carry forward onto my other projects.

My internship is divided into two parts. The first component was a 2 week-project with the Asia Foundation (my previous employer), where I helped the Beijing office to create a project to train green energy entrepreneurs on how to start a clean tech business. Involved in the creation of the project was the determination of which industries we would train the entrepreneurs in, how the trainings would be structured, how the project would be funded, and who the strategic partners might include.

Very useful to beginning this project was the fact that there’s a number of other Ross MBA’s who are currently working in Beijing, many of whom are involved in green energy projects. I set up various dinners and meetings with my contacts to see who was working on what and who could be involved. One of the most important contacts was with one of my associates at JUCCCE (Joint US China Collaboration on Clean Energy), who happens to be the program manager of the Mayoral Training program, which has trained hundreds of mayors in China on clean technologies. I was able to get an extra ticket to this conference for my contact at the Asia Foundation (cost ~ $500).

Classmates and fellow energy compatriots

It was decided by the office that the money for the project should come from private funding. Based on my research, I came to the conclusion that there are four key greentech areas which the trainings should be focused:

Green Building, Green Industry (i.e. waste -> energy), Biofuels, and Clean Water.

The main reasons for selecting these industries include:

1) The Chinese government has yet to make significant inroads in these areas, so the market is less mature
2) The Chinese government has ambitious goals to increase energy efficiency stemming from these projects
3) The doors are more open in these industries for private companies than, say solar or wind power, where Chinese companies already dominate the market
4) Innovation in these industries would significantly help to improve the environmental situation in China

Separately, I also identified a listing of 80 companies who would potentially be interested in sponsoring such a training program.

The Asia Foundation Beijing office was very receptive in collaborating on this project, and I’m hoping that future collaborations are also possible.

My next blogs will hopefully be more frequent as I am leaving Beijing for the rural countryside on Sunday to begin my main project working with organic tea farmers. More pictures, and hopefully videos, to come. Attached is a random picture of some guys I played basketball with at Beijing University.

And hanging with my cousin Mars

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