Student Multidisciplinary Applied Research Teams (SMART) 2020-2021

The ‘New’ SMART Focus

COVID-19 will forever change the global MSMEs landscape.  For the 2020-2021 year, the SMART Program will focus on the opportunity, created by this crisis.  Students will explore how academia, especially the field of business collaboratively working across disciplines, can engage with MSMEs to better understand, document and effectively respond to the impact of COVID-19 around the world.  The program will be research oriented with no field experience or travel component.

At a glance, SMART 2020-2021 will include the following components:

  • 8 teams with 4-6 students per team (6 teams focused on African companies and 2 teams working with Asian companies)
  • Fall ‘20—Info Sessions | Applications | Team Creation/Planning | AEM 4415 Course
  • Spring ‘21—AEM 4421 | Team Data Collection | Presentations | Symposium

SMART Timeline

The Research Tasks

  • Survey—The focus will be on collecting data on how MSMEs in Africa and Asia have been impacted by COVID (EMP Team in the Fall)
  • Analysis of Survey Data—Students will use the survey data to better understand the COVID-19 situation in emerging markets while using it to design interview guides for their host company.
  • Secondary Data—This will be a collection of data which are focused on the macro and micro issues to capture the current COVID situation at various levels–global, regional, national and local/community and individual.
  • Virtual Interviews—Students will focus their in-depth interviews on their ‘host’ company while complementing that with data gathered from other relevant businesses and organizations within the specified region.

2020-2021 SMART Projects

  1. Botswana: Sereledi Farms (dairy)
  2. Kenya: Azuri Health Ltd. (dried fruits)
  3. Kenya: M-Farm (digital agriculture)
  4. Rwanda: The Carl Group (OFSP products)
  5. Indonesia: Cau Chocolate (chocolate)
  6. Philippines: Soyuz Foods (native fruit products)
  7. Uganda: Golden Bees Ltd. (honey & apiculture)
  8. Zambia: Palabana Fisheries (fish/fingerlings)

Important SMART Dates

  • Information Sessions: Wednesday, September 9 (7-8pm); Friday, September 11 (12-1pm); Monday, September 14 (4-5pm). Click here to join through Zoom.
  • Applications Open Online: September 11
  • Deadline to Apply: September 25th by 11:59pm (strict deadline)

Selected SMART Skills

  • Strong Research, Analytical, Writing and Communication Skills
  • Basic Understanding of Business Concepts (e.g. Agribusiness)
  • Multi-cultural Team Focus (Academia & Field)
  • Language and Problem-solving Skills
  • Humility, Resilience, Flexibility and Patience

Contact Information

For questions, please contact SMART Program Director, Dr. Ndunge Kiiti at

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