Miami U students Michael Barth and Yu Xiang Tey interviewing members of the women’s group in Pulingui. Photo by Dr. Brett Smith.

For the first time ever, the CE Solutions Ecuador team and sister organization Social Entrepreneur Corps hosted a winter program with undergraduates from Miami University of Ohio’s Farmer School of Business!  In collaboration with Miami U’s Center for Social Entrepreneurship, eleven students and three professors came down to the equator for three weeks to help CE Solutions create new metrics to further measure our impact on the lives of our entrepreneurs and the people we serve.  Their time was divided between coursework, Spanish classes in Cuenca, and a rural homestay experience with indigenous families on our site in northern Ecuador.

Students Kayla Lawson and Tom Weston conducting far-vision eye exams at a Village Access Campaign. Photo by Brian Bergman.

Impact measurement has become increasingly paramount for socially-oriented organizations like CE Solutions as a means of capturing the effectiveness, as well as determining the scalability, of their activities and resources.  The students’ coursework consisted of articulating our work into a theory of change and conducting interviews with key stakeholders, such as the CE Solutions leadership, local entrepreneurs, customers and community members.  The results of the interviews aided students in the development of measurement indicators that would be able to quantifiably measure the impact of our activities and corresponding outputs, as well as the outcomes we aim to achieve, such as improved quality of life for our local entrepreneurs and customers.

Kelsey Smith using the SVOne to take a vision test in the community of Asunción. Photo by Brian Bergman.

While figuring out how to measure our impact, the Miami U group also directly participated in creating impact by supporting the Ecuador team on the field at our Village Access Campaigns in rural communities.  During that time they assisted us with demonstrating the SVOne, a new smart-phone based autorefractor developed by our partners Smart Vision Labs, as we tested the device with community members during our time on the field.

Miami U student Ben Arwine explaining the work of CE Solutions to a Village Access Campaign visitor. Photo by Brian Bergman.

“My time working with Social Entrepreneur Corps was short, but a great experience nonetheless,” concludes Miami U student Ben Arwine.  “The program was both challenging and fun, and the leadership provided by SECorps created a positive atmosphere for everyone involved. I most enjoyed the day to day discoveries about the Ecuadorian culture, everything from learning the language to trying a new type of food. I learned and experienced a lot during my three weeks in country, and it was an unforgettable experience.”

Although the visit was short, the group still managed to partake in some of the fun activities Ecuador has to offer!  From zip lining through eucalyptus forests and relaxing in thermal baths outside of the historic city ofCuenca, to hiking up Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador, the Miami U students enjoyed beautiful scenery and culturally rich experiences.  We thank them for their hard work and collaboration!

Miami U students and profs posing in front of Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador (20,564 ft) and the farthest point on earth from the earth’s center. Photo by Maria Luz Giambartolomei.