Front row from left: David Heniford, Matilda Thomas, Stefan Yu. Back row: Timothy Solberg, Lewis Luo, Dr. Lin Gu.
Olin team awarded $10K as ‘difference makers’ for Haiti project

A team of Olin MBA and master of finance students has won a $10,000 grant toward work on a business plan for a trauma hospital in Haiti. The grant was one of 100 such gifts nationally from TIAA, which awards the grants to worthy university groups doing nonprofit work.

Led by Olin’s Timothy Solberg, professor of practice in finance and board director of Project Medishare for Haiti, the five students include Dr. Lin Gu, MBA ’19, a Chinese emergency room doctor; Nigerian architect Matilda Thomas, MBA ’19; and Davis Heniford, Stefan Yu, and team leader Lewis Luo, all MSFQ ’18.

“Being from a developing country myself, I understand the challenges that come with starting up an organization of such scale and impact in a so-often hostile environment,” Thomas said. “I am able to leverage such knowledge, and through empathy, make recommendations that, hopefully, would be to the greatest good of the Haitian people.”

The students’ practicum project in Haiti is operated under Olin’s Wells Fargo Advisors Center for Finance and Accounting Research. The TIAA grant will cover the cost of creating a business plan for a national trauma and critical care hospital and health system in Haiti, which would replace infrastructure destroyed in Haiti’s January 2010 earthquake.

“I am very excited an Olin team is working to bring the trauma hospital and health system plan over the finish line,” Solberg said. “By completing this plan, WashU Olin’s team of five students is truly going to make a difference to the healthcare of 11 million people without a trauma system.”

TIAA made the announcement on October 2 as part of its total $1 million grant to 100 individuals who are “making a difference and (to) help them continue the impactful work they’re doing.”

“I am greatly inspired by the ambition and passion of the healthcare professionals and business tycoons committed to transform the world,” Gu said.

Twelve acres of land in Port au Prince, already in the process of being cleared and prepared, was donated by the local business community, and the Haitian government has put $5 million into a building escrow account.

“Project Medishare has allowed me to use my finance background in a way that is both novel and contributes to something much larger,” Heniford said. The students’ business plan will release funding with a $7 million grant from a philanthropist who requires an economically sustainable business plan as a next step.

“Our business plan is the key to unlock millions of dollars of donor funds to rebuild the only trauma and critical care hospital in Haiti,” Yu said. “It is special to be able to apply financial knowledge with such a clear humanitarian focus, and it has inspired me to seek other career opportunities in promoting social welfare through finance.”

The student team is working closely with Dr. Barth A. Green, Project Medishare president and founder; Harold Marzouka Jr., chairman of its Haitian board; Dr. Elizabeth Greig, executive committee member; Renee Lewis, executive director; and Joe Cornely of Norwegian Cruise Lines.

“I am glad and appreciate the chance to lead the WashU Project Medishare for Haiti team organized by CFAR that allows students like me to work with a group of amazing talents and leverage my skills to help millions of Haitians in need and make some real-world impacts,” Luo said.

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