OTOP is a not-for-profit cooperative composed of women who are victims of gender violence and sexual harassment, all of them at risk of socioeconomic exclusion. They work in the circular economy field, managing the waste of used vegetable cooking oil for its reutilization. This industry is very competitive and with many unethical examples from specific market oriented companies. OTOP, therefore, is experienced tough times and they ask us for consultancy service for the improvement of the internal management and for the growth of their economic activity of managing.
Students had to prepare a diagnostic activity report (strengths, weaknesses and points for improvement), recommendations for the improvement of internal processes and recommendations to streamline the work of the organization. Students visited the organization twice and held several meetings with the staff as well as with the beneficiaries. They also studied documents and do some field-research.
This project is part of a mandatory, capstone course at a Business School. Students at their final business degree year (more than 400) have to solve a managerial challenge of a social organization. Apart from a learning-by-doing experience (project based learning), students, who are not usually exposed to social vulnerability situations, had to face and interact with people with difficulties and think about their feelings and approaches. For many of them, derived from their socioeconomic context, this could be their first community engagement experience, apart from classic volunteering that some of them had done at school.
The activity is graded (30% group work, 70% individual thoughts) and assessment criteria combines social considerations with curriculum insights. The social entity actively participated in the assessment of students. Teaching support (the course teachers do not necessarily hold a Business administration background) implies teamwork skills, motivation and vocational support, ethical thought, project management skills and community engagement. Technical support is provided by other faculty members, who are expert in the specific contents and by external pro-
bono support from alumni and other professional firms.