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MBA grads find way to serve and thrive

Fabric cutter Mark Currie and Brenna Schneider, cofounder and chief executive of 99 degrees custom, looked over patterns at the company’s plant in Lawrence.
Fabric cutter Mark Currie and Brenna Schneider, cofounder and chief executive of 99 degrees custom, looked over patterns at the company’s plant in Lawrence.Credit: BARRY CHIN/GLOBE STAFF

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As a Peace Corps volunteer in Lesotho, Siiri Morley watched development workers train local women to make crafts without much thought to whether their products would actually sell. Unsold crafts would pile up until businesses failed, leaving the women without incomes and hope of climbing from poverty.

This experience taught Morley that even the best-intentioned social programs won’t work unless they can operate in the black. Today, with an MBA in hand, she is a founder of a successful Boston firm that sells candles made in developing nations and provides a steady income to the women who make them.

Morley, 35, is one of a number of entrepreneurs who have earned MBAs from Brandeis University, aiming to use the power of innovation and markets to effect social change.

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