I am interested in serving as a Kiva fellow to be at the forefront of the global financial inclusion movement and to pursue my long-term career goal of managing and designing financial inclusion programs. My education and work experience demonstrates my commitment to community and economic development and I believe the Kiva Fellowship will provide me with a complementary set of skills and experience that I can use to achieve this goal.
After obtaining a degree in Management Science, Economics, I worked for various programs in a not-for-profit organization and city government, focusing on improving the economic situation of vulnerable communities in the state of California. After serving in these roles I undertook a Masters of Urban Planning to expand upon my existing knowledge and to investigate economic issues that affect the poorest people in the world. During my masters I had the opportunity to travel to China and upon completion of my degree I accepted a contract with the United Nations Development Programme to work in Indonesia. My work in Indonesia solidified my passion for bringing affordable and accessible financing to vulnerable populations. I traveled to Aceh to assess the state of cocoa farmers that were struggling to survive after a devastating Tsunami and a 30 year civil war that ravaged the province.
I currently work with minority communities under serious financial stress in New York City. The majority of my clients are hard-working individuals who struggle to provide for their families. Many have goals of opening their own business, putting their children through college, or owning their first home. But no matter how many hours of hard work they put in, they cannot seem to get out of debt or build wealth-creating assets. Working as a financial advisor has further informed my understanding of income and financial inequality and how the cyclical nature of poverty impacts communities. Having no safety net, a sudden emergency often devastates the families and plunges them into debt. In addition to providing education, my work and organization strive to empower individuals with the ability to change spending habits and make informed, long-term decisions.
I believe microfinance is an important tool to break this cycle of poverty. Couple with financial services such as savings mechanisms, insurance, education, and other affordable financial products, families have a much better chance of lifting themselves out of poverty and providing their children with a brighter future. I am excited to return to those places where infrastructure is lacking, such as Aceh, with new enthusiasm and open-mindedness. The Kiva Fellowship would offer me the unique opportunity to continue learning and building my skills in this global field.