In 2004 I visited Bangladesh to finish a paper on micro finance institutions (MFIs). My conclusion was that MFIs should seek regulatory reform allowing them to become incorporated banks which would allow them issue stock which could be packaged and sold as the bedrock of socially responsible mutual funds. In this way western investors could rely on the due diligence of mutual funds to reward MFIs with the most responsible practices and bridge the gap between investors and poor borrowers. At this time Jessica Jackley was learning about profit and revenue on the ground from African goat herders. The ivory tower gave me an “A” on that paper.
After I graduated I put my business degree to use and started to make money. In school I learned that the more money you make the more you must be contributing to society. I have some talent in this field and became the first member of my family to have a six figure job. I started in the oil and gas industry with a small family run research firm and defending my uncle successfully against an industry giant. I helped my Aunt move after the industry accidentally poisoned her water supply for six days, I collected paychecks in horror as we “spilled” millions of gallons of oil into the gulf further killing my state, and I finally took a job working, indirectly, for the aforementioned industry giant.
During this time I became a Kiva lender, saw Jessica Jackley speak my Alma Maters graduation and Muhammad Yunus speak in Dallas, and visited the Thunderbird School of Global Management. I couldn’t commit to Thunderbird because there are too many things I do not yet know. I don’t know how I can do the most good. I don’t know if grad school and it’s associated loans will enable or hinder me. Shamefully, I don’t know if I can handle being broke long term. I decided to spend a year living and volunteering abroad to answer some of those questions. Kiva is my favorite non profit. Naturally, my journey should start here.