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HBX Business Blog

Starting an NGO with Skills Gained from HBX CORe

Posted by Azizjon Azimi on October 11, 2016 at 11:19 AM


My name is Aziz and I am a recent New York University graduate who enrolled in the June 2015 cohort of HBX CORe. Since completing CORe, I have nurtured my entrepreneurial skills to a new level and have successfully launched a start-up NGO, TajRupt, in my home country of Tajikistan.

TajRupt works on three fronts: renewable energy (providing solar lanterns to tens of thousands of underprivileged children), subsidized financing (allocating grants to gifted students to pursue university education), and anti-corruption (launching an online platform for reporting of bribery cases in universities). I have extensively used my HBX CORe skills to define the operational business model and effectively work on grant proposals with my peers. 

Business Analytics - Drawing conclusions from conducting randomized audits and analyzing data samples 

We were initially planning to launch a microfinance institution that would provide low-interest student loans modelled after the UK Student Loans Company system. To gauge public interest in the program, we posted surveys on Tajik social media groups and sent them out electronically in a randomized manner – exact steps taken in one of the course examples. After receiving survey results that pointed to low public interest in the microfinance venture, we were convinced that the student loan program would be tough to launch in a country where public trust in financial institutions is at an all-time low due to a stiff financial crisis. Thus, we decided to focus our efforts on strictly non-commercial aspects in the beginning in order to build a proper reputation that would then increase public confidence in the organization and strategically differentiate us (a concept from Economics for Managers). This strategy will allow us to launch a microfinance program in a period of one to two years.

Economics for Managers - Fixed and variable cost breakdown 

While my team and I were preparing our grant proposals for the Ministry of Finance, we conducted extensive contrastive fixed and variable cost analyses and adjusted the metrics several times in order to yield the least operationally expensive model by bringing down the variable cost to minimal levels. In our case, renting space for offices and Educational Resource Centers (ERCs) produced variable costs that were too high. To curb this, we transformed the office variable expense into a fixed cost by opting to purchase a small headquarters office as opposed to continuously paying rent. We also eliminated the variable cost associated with ERCs by formalizing an agreement with the Ministry of Education and Science to host ERC activities at administrative offices of the Ministry in five districts of our operation.

Financial Accounting - Cash flow analysis 

Due to the fact that we receive $3.3 million in international grant funds in continuous annual payments from the Ministry of Finance as opposed to one single transaction, we had to properly amend our income statements for annual categorization to prevent over-spending. This prompted us to use a number of course concepts including operating expense ratio (OER) to gain insights into our financial standing and ensure project sustainability.

Thank you, HBX CORe!

By utilizing the network of amazing individuals that I had the pleasure of meeting through HBX, I was able to pursue my dream project and secure over $3 million in grants from the Eurasian Development Bank and OPEC Fund for International Development. Thanks to CORe, I was able to make my dream of launching a start-up NGO come to life.

Interested in learning Financial Accounting, Business Analytics, and Economics for Managers?

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About the Author

Azizjon Azimi participated in the June 2015 cohort of HBX CORe. He is a recent college graduate whose experience with CORe helped him to launch his education-focused NGO, TajRupt.

Topics: HBX CORe, Student Bloggers, Student Spotlight