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Students blend business and compassion

EMBA could stand for Executives Making Bold Achievements. That’s exactly what two students in DU’s Daniels College of Business Executive MBA (EMBA) program are doing: boldly sharing their business acumen with women in India who desperately need the help.

The story starts in 1996 when Katie Kramer visited India and saw firsthand a Dalit village, home for women who are deemed outcasts from society.

“I was so touched by what I saw—the profound poverty—that it changed my life and influenced my career choice to enter the nonprofit sector, and it fed my deep desire to help other people,” says Kramer, an EMBA student and vice president and assistant executive director of the Boettcher Foundation, a Denver nonprofit.

Fast-forward 11 years. Kramer enters DU’s EMBA program and meets fellow student Flo Mostaccero, who had gotten involved with Women with a Cause, a nonprofit that teaches sewing and business skills to Dalit women so they can sell what they make and earn a living.

“Funny how life comes full circle sometimes,” Kramer says.

Kramer and Mostaccero joined forces as part of the EMBA’s community service component and unleashed a flurry of help for Women with a Cause. They developed a marketing feasibility study, an inventory tracking system, clothing tags, statistical analyses on merchandise pricing, consumer research, a sales plan and a customer relationship management system. They also helped organize an event with EMBA volunteers from DU that raised nearly $100,000 to help build a sewing center in India.

Now they’re recruiting other EMBA students to improve the organization’s financial systems and Internet sales.

“Katie and Flo have helped in more ways than I ever imagined,” says Susan Kiely, CEO and founder of Women with a Cause. “They’ve done so much.”

Mostaccero—president of Pearl Development Co., an oil and gas engineering firm—says she got involved because of her “personal need to help other women.”

“I’m a chemical engineer by degree and have always worked in male-dominated industries and professions … but have always felt a strong need to connect and give back to women,” she says. “When I heard about Women with a Cause [and] … women helping women to help themselves, it just seemed [to] fit exactly with my passions.”

Mostaccero has never been to India but hopes to go with Kiely next year.

Kramer says she’s been involved in nonprofits her entire career and that helping Women with a Cause was “the perfect intersection for my interests … partnering with a business to help women become economically self-sufficient.

“I love the business model—it teaches the women in India a trade so they can support themselves and their families,” Kramer says. “They’re taking their earnings and educating their children and providing loans to the men in the village to help them become self-sufficient, too. Talk about a positive cycle.”

Kramer credits Mostaccero for “the perfect tagline” that captures the spirit of Women with a Cause: “Teach a Woman to Sew and a Village Blossoms.”

“Being a part of something that’s creating positive change is so fun and empowering,” Kramer says. “Flo and I are both thankful for this opportunity.”


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