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How Can An MBA Make You A Better Entrepreneur?

Daisy Rosales has had a connection with the social sector since childhood. She’s now a social entrepreneur on the MBA at Yale


Wed Sep 11 2019

Daisy Rosales grew up near San Francisco, California, as an only daughter to immigrant parents. She remembers exploring the city on foot with her mother, the hustle and bustle enough to pique a childhood sense of adventure. 

It was also the first time she encountered the realities of injustice and poverty. It stuck with her. She’s known since childhood that she was heading for the social sector. 

After an undergraduate degree in history, she worked in education before moving into marketing at a socially-focused nonprofit in Los Angeles. They were deeply clarifying years, she says, and a persistent return to the social sector meant launching her own venture wasn’t far away.

As those plans formed, she wanted to equip herself with the credibility and business skillset to start life as an entrepreneur successfully. 

“Doing right by the communities we would support meant that I needed to learn how to actually manage an organization—business school seemed like the next right thing,” she says. 

Daisy joined the MBA at Yale School of Management and launched Brio, her startup, at the beginning of the program. She's the company’s executive director.

Brio is a nonprofit that creates and rolls out mental health solutions in vulnerable communities globally. They work with leaders on the ground in low-income communities that have a vision, but lack the strategic acumen and funding to carry it out.

We caught up with Daisy to find out more.

How can an MBA make you a better entrepreneur? 

An MBA can help you think comprehensively about the possibilities of your venture—from pilot to scale to exit.

It gives you the management education that many entrepreneurs lack. For example, the importance of good HR practices. 

MBAs are also important for credibility in certain industries. It can inspire trust from funders about your ability to oversee the flow of capital and keep track of your organization’s performance or sustainability. 

Ultimately, the choice is personal and dependent on numerous factors. But if you do launch a company during the program, it’s helpful to see business school as your own amazing two-year incubator.

Where did the idea for Brio come from?

Through my engagement with communities in low-income countries, it became apparent that mental health was an especially under-resourced area. In fact, estimates of the prevalence of mental illness in these contexts are double that of the United States. Additionally, mental illness and poverty have a bidirectional relationship that can be difficult to escape.

Together with my cofounder, a clinical psychology Ph.D. candidate, I wanted to create a contextualized, locally driven strategy for addressing mental health crises in poor communities. 

We had no interest in top-down models or replicating solutions from the West. So, we decided to start with a pilot in Ecuador with community leaders we knew well. In our first year, we helped them launch Ecuador’s first addiction counseling training program, and they’re already scaling it up. 

Why did you choose Yale School of Management for your MBA?

Yale stood out for several reasons. 

The School of Management has a long history of research and graduates in the social sector, and many students have ambitions to make a positive impact beyond themselves. 

The university has schools in medicine, public health, environment, international affairs, and more, which expands interdisciplinary opportunities. I’ve received excellent advice from faculty and unfailing support from my classmates.

Why social entrepreneurship?

Social entrepreneurship makes it possible to work with local communities in a different way. It’s encouraging to see today’s social entrepreneurs increasingly emphasize local participation in forming a solution. When truly collaborative, it can create powerful paths to flourishing that would not have existed otherwise.

Speaking of flourishing, we believe that mental health is about freedom. A person’s ability to care for their family, go to work, and pursue their goals is deeply affected by their overall well-being. 

Violence, poverty, and a history of oppression can affect that. So, we wanted mental health to be our focus in working with vulnerable communities. 

How does an MBA benefit your startup?

Faculty and classmates are enthusiastic to share ideas, ask tough questions, and brainstorm models. There are on-campus incubators and courses that allow you to engage with issues related to your startup. 

Yale has a wide and generous array of funding available to student entrepreneurs as well. You become practiced at articulating your vision and why it’s valuable. We are so grateful to have received funding throughout the year that allowed us to travel and work full time on the venture this summer.