A Helping Hand Up from Poverty

For this Thunderbird MBA, daily work entails tapping the resources of financial markets to provide microloans for the world's poorest citizens

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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