Frontier Market Scouts
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Frequently Asked Questions

Program Details

1. What does a Frontier Market Scout do?

A Frontier Market Scout fellow, working with an investment or development organization, immerses her/himself in a low-income community for three to twelve months and strives to discover and develop projects that can attract social and commercial investments.

S/he does so by fulfilling certain responsibilities that include

  • Discovering the best practices of enterprising local people
  • Organizing locals to brainstorm ways of scaling up their business practices
  • Instilling entrepreneurial desire and discovering local business-minded people
  • Assisting enterprising people to develop business plans
  • Enabling enterprising people to obtain investment and structure business
  • Sharing knowledge with fellows all over the world.

Frontier Market Scouts fellows ultimately contribute to poverty alleviation and wealth creation through entrepreneurship and enterprise development in low-income areas of the world.

2. How does the Frontier Market Scouts Program work?

The program selects and trains emerging business and development professionals to serve as a low cost and effective bridge between enterprising people in low-income regions and investors.* Frontier Market Scouts fellows  have the option to commit to fellowships lasting three-twelve months. Typically, FMS fellowships include one of the following focuses:

  • Seek out enterprising people and facilitate exchange of ideas
  • Due diligence and asset allocation for social and commercial investors
  • Business development and strategy 
  • Operations and management with an impact-driven enterprise
  • Fund development support for social enterprises

*Field assignments are not mandatory. 

3. When is the Frontier Markets Scouts training program offered?

FMS training sessions are typically offered twice a year in winter and summer cycles.

The winter training programs will be offered in two locations:

  • Monterey, CA
  • Washington D.C.

The summer training program will be offered in one location:

  • Monterey, CA
4. Can you outline the Frontier Market Scouts Program design?

The program integrates local entrepreneurial development, transnational development and delivery. The design aims to serve both students and entrepreneurs, and to create a symbiotic relationship between them to achieve enterprise development and human capital development goals.

The students and entrepreneurs not only learn to manage differences in entrepreneurial and enterprise development across cultures, regions, policy regimes and sectors, but also learn to leverage the differences as sources of innovation. We have designed the Frontier Market Scouts program to involve and incentivize local partners in every aspect of its operations, from education program development to delivery, as well as student placement to organizational development.

Admissions Requirements and Information

1. How do I apply?

Apply to the FMS program by filling out the online application.

2. How much does the training cost?

Fees:

General: $4,000 USD

The Institute and Middlebury Students: $2,000 USD

Full and partial merit scholarship rates for the training may be available.

Participants may choose to apply for the training program or both the training and field programs. Participants will receive an FMScouts Professional Certificate in Social Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing endorsed by the program, the Institute, and training center upon successful completion.

There is no fee for the field program, however, participants are normally responsible for transportation to their site location and room and board and additional living costs.

All field assignments include a stipend of at least $250/month.

MIIS students can participate in the program at regular tuition rates (6 units for the training and 6 units for the field program). The program fee is still applied even when registering for academic credits. 

The $500 program deposit is due two weeks after acceptance. 

Click here to view application deadlines. 

3. Who is the ideal Frontier Market Scout?

A passionate idealist who believes in a more values-driven economic system. The well-suited Frontier Scout has a solid background in business and management, a superb aptitude for immersive learning, and a strong belief in enterprise and market development as the most important means to the sustainable improvement of living standards in developing countries.

4. What are the application requirements? Am I eligible?

All participants must submit the online application and upload a resume, recent official or unofficial transcript (or copy of their diploma) within the online application.

If you have any trouble uploading documents within your application, please send the documents to  fms@miis.edu or fax these documents to 831-647-6693.

Upper-level undergraduate students, graduate students, career-changers, and current professionals are encouraged to apply.

5. Can I receive academic credit for the FMS training program?

The FMS training program is available for 1-6 credits on a pass/no-pass basis. The FMS field program is available for 6 credits. It is the participant's responsibility to verify whether the credit receiving institution accepts the credits from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

Participants seeking academic credits (and who are not enrolled full-time at the Institute when registering for FMS classes) will pay the standard tuition at $1,715 per unit, or $10,290 for the 6-unit training program. The aforementioned scenario also includes current Institute students who are not enrolled fulltime during the summer, fall, or spring semesters.

Students enrolled in a fulltime semester credit load (12 units or more) at the Institute will be charged the comprehensive semester fee of $18,010 (in addition to the $2,000 program fee).  Similarly, if an Institute student wants to take 6 units, they will pay the per credit rate for AY 2015-2016 of $1,766. Merit scholarships can apply. Institute students should contact a financial aid advisor to review their specific situation.

6. Is there financial aid available for the FMS program?

There are a limited number of merit- and need-based full and partial scholarships for the FMS training and field program. All applicants (current students and non-students) are eligible to apply for scholarships. Please indicate that you would like to be considered for a scholarship in the online application.  

Institute students may also be eligible to receive financial aid in the form of loans to cover program tuition and living and travel expenses. Merit scholarships for current MIIS students may be applied if the student is eligible.

If you are an Institute student or a participant taking the program for credit, please see the Institute Office of Student Financial Planning to learn more about your individual options at (831) 647-4119. Past participants have also received outside scholarships to cover the costs of the program. Some who are currently working for development or business organizations have applied directly to their places of work for reimbursement of tuition or program fees.

7. Do I need to be fluent in a language to be a Scout?

Functional language is key. In some countries English is the widely accepted working language besides the native language so an additional language would not be necessary.

However, this is not the case in some other countries. For the latter, fellows must have working proficiency in the native language to conduct their work effectively.

8. Is there an English proficiency requirement?

While test scores are not required, non-native English speaking FMS candidates should be proficient in English to fully benefit from the certificate training. 

Recommended Minimum: TOEFL 

  • Internet-based test: 80
  • Writing sub-score: 23
  • No sub-scores below 19

Recommended Minimum: IELTS

  • 6.5 Overall
  • No Sub-score below 6.0

Please contact Erina McWilliam-Lopez at emcwilliam@miis.edu if you have questions. 

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9. If I am not a US citizen or Green Card holder, do I need to apply for a student visa?

Yes, all participants enrolled in non-degree trainings must obtain a visa to enter the U.S.

All accepted and deposited applicants, will be contacted by the Institute's Office of International Student Services to begin the visa application process.

Our International Student Advisors consult with international participants to determine visa-specific needs and necessary documentation to join the two-week FMS training.

Please refer to the international participant page for more details.

Field Placement Details

1. Where will I go? How is this determined?

FMS fellowship placements are partly determined by the needs and priorities of our partners, as well as the fellow's professional maturity, language ability, skill-set, and preferences. Currently, the program has fellows serving in countries such as Kenya, India, Rwanda, USA*, Indonesia, Tanzania, and Peru. However, the program receives partners’ applications on a rolling basis, and the offer continues to grow!

*Please note that non-US Citizens are not eligible for US-based placements unless they carry their own status for work within the U.S. International students cannot stay on MIIS documents for the fieldwork placement.

How is this determined?

The field placement review process begins 2-4 weeks before the start of the training. Before this, the program offers an orientation webinar to outline the process in detail.

Placements are highly likely, but not guaranteed. Finding a field assignment match is comparative to a competitive hiring process where candidates must actively cultivate positive relationships and interview with the FMS placement team and fellowship hiring partners. Each candidate is guaranteed 2-5 interviews during the placement process. Final offers are made at the discretion of the partner. 

The FMS training is an incredible opportunity to network with practitioners in the field and professional peers. We see huge successes from fellows who are truly adventurous and able to accept ambiguity with a positive attitude, have a heightened sense of awareness in building relationships, and clearly expressing their professional goals.

To learn more about current and past Scouts in the field, please visit our FMS blog community.

Impact of FMS

1. What sustainable value will the Frontier Market Scouts Program deliver?

Our Frontier Market Scouts program delivers sustainable value by delivering immersive experiences, along with original data and insights into the ecosystems and microeconomics of the 'enterprising poor' to the global business, engineering, and policy communities.

We are designing breakthrough business models focused on serving people, and laying the groundwork for an influx in resources to grassroots entrepreneurship around the world. We are creating the ecosystems and institutional frameworks necessary to help drive organizational, financial, and technological resources to frontier markets, in the form of business consulting to micro-enterprises, new entrepreneurial ventures, new investment, and product/services innovation.

By highlighting the market opportunities at the "bottom of the pyramid" and educating business and engineering leaders on how to capture them, we are incentivizing investments and job creation in low-income areas, as well as facilitating the development of low-cost, high-impact product, process, and service innovation for these consumers. Both will serve enterprising people by simultaneously creating wealth and improving quality of life.

We are building technological paths (business models, distribution and adoption strategies) to "bottom of the pyramid" markets through which exponentially powerful, cheap and relevant technologies can be delivered to provide efficient, scalable, and sustainable solutions to the enterprising poor's greatest problems.

2. What impact do you think Sanghata Institute and the Frontier Market Scouts Program will have?

We believe our approach will reduce poverty by accelerating wealth creation through more entrepreneurial ventures or investment funds aimed at serving capital-weak markets, a greater emphasis on market solutions and private sector development in the non-profit and public aid communities, and more multinational corporations designing products and services for the enterprising poor.

Our work will boost awareness in the public and private sector on "bottom of the pyramid" ecosystems, business models, and market opportunities, as well as help governments and nonprofits understand how market solutions can accelerate wealth creation in poverty stricken regions of the world. Poverty alleviation will become a business development task shared across an ecosystem made of public institutions, nonprofits, large private sector firms and local grassroots entrepreneurs.

Impact Investing & Social Enterprise General Questions

1. I’m new to this field. What are key definitions I should know?

Click here for a list of frequently used terms and definitions.

2. Where can I learn more about this field and like-minded organizations?

To learn more about impact investment organizations and articles about the field visit these impact investing sites.

3. Are we talking about aid? Don't we already spend enough on foreign aid?

No, we are not talking about aid. Regarding development aid, the past 20 years have produced very uneven results, leading to an increasing frustration in the global development community. Despite trillions of dollars in aid, many countries remain mired in poverty.

Top-down aid delivered to governments has often been siphoned off by corrupt or inefficient administration. Bottom-up aid, often delivered by non- governmental organizations, has crowded out market forces by providing free but unsustainable products and services, which not only disrupt entrepreneurship and wealth creation but also create dependency. By operating through government bureaucracies, foreign aid establishment often impedes the growth of a robust business sector, which lies at the heart of wealth creation.

4. What has changed in the development sector?

In the last ten years, the development paradigm has evolved from the aid model to the disciplined investment model that demands both financial and social returns. This paradigm shift coincides with the change in views about people in low-income regions and the relationship between charity and global poverty. People want dignity, not dependence. They need market-based approaches to sustain growth and break the poverty cycle that depends on charity dollars.

We believe that international aid is a powerful and relevant tool in certain situations, but that in the long run market-based solutions and private sector development will more significantly contribute to poverty alleviation while opening the door to more business opportunities than in the past decades.

5. Why would business corporations invest in the 'enterprising poor'?

In August 2004, University of Michigan Management Professor C.K. Prahalad published a book, "The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid", dedicated to a single powerful idea: the 4 billion people living on less than $2 per day represent the biggest latent market for multinational corporations.

Turning the entire poverty reduction paradigm on its head, Professor Prahalad showed that those we frequently see as an undifferentiated mass of despair are not only active and value-conscious consumers, but also often extremely savvy business people forming a powerful grid through which multinational corporations can access a market of nearly $13 trillion while creating economic opportunities for enterprising people struggling to make a living.

6. You refer to the global wealth pyramid. What are the crucial issues?

There are two crucial issues. At the top, large corporations struggle to redefine their social purpose while sinking vast financial and technological resources toward small market share increases or the development of products (such as the iPad we all love) that have a minor impact on the lives of relatively few. At the bottom, hundreds of millions of entrepreneurs are lifting themselves out of poverty in developing countries by delivering high-impact products and services (health, nutrition, education, connectivity) to local markets. These are the foot soldiers of poverty reduction throughout the world.

To us, this double paradigm increasingly sounds like the two halves of the same problem: driving global resources to the "bottom of the pyramid" to accelerate opportunity and wealth creation while tapping into the world's largest latent market.

7. Why have multinational corporations not dedicated their attention to the "bottom of the pyramid" markets?

Many multinationals are still ruled by their "dominant logic," which dictates that there cost structure and business models cannot serve those who live on a few dollars per day- that the poor do not have use for products/ services sold in developed countries, that only developed countries are able to afford innovation,  and that their need to "streamline" and focus on core businesses makes "fringe" markets or product lines irrelevant or dangerous to their own bottom line.

In sum, with notable exceptions, the global business community seems, at times, to lack the capacity to understand these markets, the frameworks and incentives to shift their attention away from traditional business models, and often the tools to capture opportunities. Too often, multinational corporations develop only a limited awareness of complex ecosystems, thus relegating 'Bottom of the Pyramid' markets to the realm of corporate social responsibility initiatives.