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Module 9: Multi-Million Smile Enterprises

About the Video | Key Concepts | Before Watching | After Watching | Resources and Interesting Intersections


About the Video

Khanjan Mehta, Director of the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship Program, tells the story of an elderly woman at a Mashavu kiosk who taught the team an important lesson - economic transactions in traditional societies are likely to occur without the use of printed currency. Khanjan suggests rethinking business models and considering alternate forms of equity in order to reach potential customers. Business models cannot overlook the critical role that trust plays in all economic and social relationships in developing communities.

Video: AcademIK Connections Module 9: Multi-Million Smile Enterprises

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Key Concepts

Sweat Equity: a term that refers to a party's contribution to a project in the form of effort, as opposed to financial equity.

Bartering: a method of exchange by which goods or services are directly exchanged for other goods or services without using a medium of exchange, such as money.

Social Networks: a social structure made up of individuals (or organizations) called nodes, which are tied (connected) by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, a shared dislike of someone or something, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige.

Indigenous Knowledge: the place-based integration of language, traditions, beliefs, practices, and ways of knowing that have evolved, over time, allowing a culture to survive in its ecological niche. Traditional knowledge encompasses the wisdom, knowledge, and teachings of these communities. In many cases, traditional knowledge has been orally passed down for generations Traditional knowledge may be expressed through stories, legends, folklore, rituals, songs, art work and may be codified in the form of laws.


Before Watching


  1. When you get sick, do you usually go to see a doctor? Imagine what it would be like to not have the ability to see a doctor when you are ill or something happens to you. What would you do if you didn’t have enough money to pay for medical care? Explain the importance of medical care. What is the difference between "medical care" and "health care"? How would you characterize the difference between the type of care provided by Western-trained physicians and indigenously-trained healers? What efforts are being made to integrate these models of care-giving?
  2. Think about the things in your life that you find to be valuable. Are there things other than financial compensation that you would accept in a business transaction? What do you consider to be valid equity?

After Watching

  1. Discussion Topics related to this video
    • What is the value proposition for the Mashavu venture? How does the Mashavu value proposition address the cultural importance of traditional healers? A value proposition is a business or marketing statement that summarizes why a consumer should buy your product or use a service. This statement should convince a potential consumer that one particular product or service would add more value or better solve a problem than other similar offerings.
    • What forms of equity are described in this video? How could Mashavu fix this equity problem?
    • What were the social networks of the women in Tanzania based on? How did they use social networks to conduct business?
    • What role did cell phones play in WishVast’s business? Why was this an efficient approach? How did this give the women entrepreneurs a voice?
  2. Related Indigenous Knowledge topics for further exploration
    • Identify your personal social network. How do these people affect your life? What utility do you get out of your relationships?
    • Think about all the transactions you make each day. What did people used to use before the invention of currency? Could you imagine what it would be like to trade objects in order to receive something you were looking for? Describe a time when you have used sweat equity.


Resources and Interesting Intersections