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Journeys of Inquiry

The Journeys of Inquiry program provides an opportunity for Stanford undergraduate and graduate students to experience different societies and cultures as part of short-term programs led by Stanford Center on Global Poverty and Development faculty and affiliates. These programs, which typically take place during the summer quarter, provide opportunities to highly motivated students for experiential learning and conducting research in low- and middle-income countries.  Past trip locations have included Uganda, Ghana, China and India.

For more information, please contact Corinne Thomas at

Summer 2019 opportunity:

Private-Sector Development in Emerging Economies: Investigating micro-entrepreneurs, policymakers and corporations in Mexico City
Across emerging economies, sectors like retail tend to be dominated by millions of tiny traditional businesses that do not grow into large, modern firms. Given this situation, researchers and policy makers have been examining how to stimulate growth and modernization for such small-scale entrepreneurs with the aim of achieving both broad impact (e.g. better economic and social outcomes at a national level) and deep impact (e.g. creation of decent jobs and sustainable household benefits). A research team from Stanford GSB (consisting of Professor Stephen J. Anderson, Professor Sridhar Narayanan and Doctoral Student Shreya Kankanhalli) is exploring how to grow and modernize small-scale retailers in Mexico through two field experiments involving thousands of firms. One experiment contrasts the effect of improving customer-facing business structures to improving back-end business structures; the other experiment studies the effect of providing e-payment technology to traditional retailers. The field experiments are being run in partnership with the World Bank and Mexico’s Ministry of Finance, two stakeholders with a strong interest in increasing the productivity of the retail sector in Mexico.
Through this Journey of Inquiry, the Stanford research team will immerse students into the world of private sector development in an emerging global city (Mexico City). By meeting with small retail business owners and the multinational corporation executives that transact with them, students will develop an intimate understanding of constraints to firm growth and how promising entrepreneurs can overcome them. By talking with politicians and policymakers at the World Bank, they will gain practical insights into how public programs that help the most vulnerable/disadvantaged entrepreneurs are developed, lobbied for, funded and executed. This is an excellent opportunity for students interested in business, poverty and/or development to learn about policy program formation and evaluation through experiments and see their impacts live-in-action.
Faculty supervisor: Stephen Anderson (Graduate School of Business)
Location: Mexico City, Mexico