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A Helping Hand Up from Poverty

With 11 years of public-sector experience in mergers and acquisitions and venture capital/private equity under my belt, I decided to take a different career path: microfinance for the poor. After completing my MBA in International Management at Thunderbird, The Garvin School of International Management, in April, 2005, I, joined Grameen Foundation USA (GFUSA), a Washington-based global nonprofit, as deputy director of capital markets.

GFUSA -- which fights poverty through microfinance, new technology, and innovation -- is the brainchild of CEO Alex Counts and Muhammad Yunus, a professor at Chittagong University in Bangladesh and founder of Grameen Bank of Bangladesh (see BW, 12/26/05, "Microcredit Missionary"). They were convinced that women could break through poverty by taking loans to start or expand small, self-supporting businesses. To reach as many potential borrowers as possible, it's essential for lending institutions to gain access to private capital. Our team supports the rapid expansion of leading poverty-focused microfinance institutions (MFIs) around the world by tapping into the vast resources of the financial markets, particularly those in their local area.

I'm responsible for the day-to-day execution of our capital-markets strategy, including oversight of our Washington (D.C.)-based capital markets team. We seek to make the capital markets work for the world's poorest by developing and managing a range of GFUSA-branded financial products, including our recently launched, $31 million GFUSA Growth Guarantees program, where we grant guaranteed loans to selected MFIs around the world; by establishing microfinance as a commercial investment opportunity; and by demonstrating leadership by linking poverty-focused microfinance and the capital markets.

Here's a snapshot of what a day in my life might look like:

7:00 a.m. -- Get to the office and start reading e-mails (just the start of the 100 or so I will read today) while sipping hot coffee and flipping through the newspaper...

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