Careers with Impact: An interview with FMS Partner Nafessa Kassim on building a purpose-driven career

Nafessa bright rounded
Nafessa Kassim, Director of Global Engagements at MovingWorlds.

From social worker to Director of Global Engagements at the fast growing startup MovingWorlds – Nafessa Kassim’s career path has been anything but a straight line from A to B. In this interview she talks to FMS Program Director, Erina McWilliam-Lopez about how she combined her passion for enacting positive social change with her entrepreneurial savvy to take on one of the greatest barriers to sustainable development – access to human talent.

Tell us about your role at MovingWorlds

As the Director of Global Engagements I wear many hats – especially since we’re a growing company. My job is to make sure that people and organizations are prepared to have high-impact Experteering engagements. This means ensuring that Experteers and Host Organizations establish clear expectations for success that lead to long-term and culturally respectful social impact. I do this through the following activities:

  • Developing and delivering online training and resources that support synchronicity between the Host Organization and the Experteer.
  • Overseeing all matches. While our matching site does most of this automatically, we curate all opportunities and oversee all matches for quality.
  • Creating and building partnerships with different Host Organizations and Partner Organizations, like Frontier Market Scouts.
  • Project management of our corporate clients who are focusing on Corporate Volunteerism. I am currently working with Microsoft and its MySkills4Afrika program.

What is MovingWorlds all about?  What need is it fulfilling in the world?

The World Economic Forum, ANDE, and others have indicated that a lack of access to human talent is one of the leading barriers to progress in development.

MovingWorlds functions like a short-term Peace Corps experience for skilled professionals focused on tackling this talent gap. We help social impact organizations working on last-mile challenges, and which have employment generation potential, with the necessary talent to overcome barriers to scale. We do this by harnessing the desire of people to travel the world in more meaningful ways and connect them to organizations that will provide them free accommodations and immersive experiences in exchange for their time and skills.

Since managing international, skills-based volunteering engagements can be tricky, we have developed an online training and facilitated planning process to ensure these Experteering matches can happen at scale, be culturally inclusive, and create a sustainable impact.

Talk about your own professional background – how did you end up where you are today?

My path started as a counselor and case manager for sexual assault survivors, and then arrested youth in the juvenile justice system in San Francisco.  In these positions I worked to support my clients and advocated for their rights as individuals and as a group.  Working with high risk populations provided me with an incredible amount of humility, admiration for people’s strength and endurance.

As time progressed I wanted to expand my experience in human rights issues to the worldwide context and accepted a fellowship with the American Indian Foundation in India.  There, I worked with communities who were HIV positive.  My work included running an HIV positive person’s community center with career and personal resources as well as fieldwork in the slums to raise awareness about parent to child contraction.  During my time in India, I was also able to develop a sustainable livelihood program for HIV positive, widowed women.

My experiences in India exposed me to extreme levels of poverty, various types of human rights issues, and the challenges of international development work.  I was also deeply inspired by the passion, drive, and endurance of the people and communities that were focusing on a holistic approach to development. It also exposed me to innovative solutions to drive social change. One such project was working with an incredible local team to co-produce, co-direct and perform in a play about domestic violence in South Asia.

Inspired by my field experience, I returned to the US to attend Columbia University where I pursued a Masters in Social Work with a focus on International Social Enterprise and Administration as well as a Master’s in Global Public Health.  The two degrees were my attempt to develop skills to create holistic impact, hence the focus on social and programmatic skills.

My interest in holistic development deepened throughout grad school and led me to co-lead a research project in Aceh, Indonesia.  The project evaluated microfinance programs implemented post-tsunami, in an innovative way by evaluating the impact of microfinance with social indicators and comparing it to the financial indicator evaluations, to identify if a holistic impact existed or not; this research was recently published.

All these experiences enabled me to work as a consultant for international programming, international corporate volunteerism, and ultimately led me to MovingWorlds. I was the first employee at MovingWorlds for a position that was never publicized. After meeting the founders, I helped highlight risks areas and proposed solutions – they offered me a full-time position shortly thereafter.  I was drawn to MovingWorlds not only because of its status as an emerging social enterprise, but more so because of its mission – to empower local organizations to solve last-mile challenges and create jobs, which, from my experience, was something that I knew was critical to creating sustainable change.

As a professional, you facilitate “Experteering” experiences- tell us about it, and what is an “Experteer” exactly?

Experteering is the combination of expertise and volunteering.  We call “Experteers” people who volunteer their skills overseas with social impact organizations for any length of time.

Typically, Experteers are skilled professionals that work on very specific projects that are initiated locally.  The goal of any Experteering engagement is to leave a sustainable impact by addressing a challenge, and also building the skills of the team they support.  At MovingWorlds, we help enable this by sourcing specific projects, providing training on best practices, and facilitating a holistic planning process.

Talk about any emerging trends you see, or stories that are unfolding as MovingWorlds evolves

A strong trend that we are seeing is the individual and non-traditional pursuit of learning and skill building. A lot of Experteers are using international service as a way to build their profiles and prove their passion for globally focused careers. In our own experience we see global service as an important vehicle for building 21st Century leadership. In fact our Experteers have ended up at organizations like the Gates Foundation, industry-leading agencies and have even received promotions after completing international service experiences. This is because employers are looking for people that can operate in ambiguity, show genuine curiosity, and have a proven record of taking initiative and delivering results.

I also find it interesting to see how traditional work paths are adapting. Now, more than ever, you are seeing large companies work with small but innovative companies, and traditional development organizations work with corporations, all to pool their best assets and create a world-wide impact.   A great example of this is outlined in Forbes. As people work towards creating social impact around them, the players are focusing less on their differences and more on their commonalities and unique expertise, and when brought together they are stronger than ever.

What’s on the horizon for MovingWorlds? Any new and exciting updates to share?

Our team has noticed that the number one reason people don’t go Experteering is time away from work. Based on the success of our international corporate volunteering programs, we’ve realized that employers face massive gains by enabling their employees to go Experteering. As such, we are going to roll out some campaigns soon to help any employee at any company make the case for more time off to go travel the world. We like to say that for the price of a conference, we can connect people to the leadership development experience of a lifetime, one that builds a better world in the process.

We also have some new exciting partnerships coming soon with the Impact Hub, Njambre, Kiva Fellows, Unreasonable Institute and Startup Chile.

About MovingWorlds
MovingWorlds, SPC is a Social Purpose Corporation whose mission is to connect people to life-enriching, immersive experiences that create a sustainable impact. Learn more about Experteering on your own, or through an international corporate volunteering program.

MovingWorlds has offices in Seattle, USA; Washington D.C., USA; and Medellin, Colombia.  


Moving the Needle

Moving the Needle

moving the needle

This post was submitted by MPA student and FMS alumna Nicole Manapol

“How do we move the needle?” is a question participants will hear often during their two weeks in the Frontier Market Scouts training program. In a program designed to enable social enterprise and promote impact investing the question is not intended to be rhetorical – it’s a straight up challenge.

According to a 2014 report released by J.P. Morgan and the Global Impact Investing Network there is currently about $46 billion of social impact money under management.[1] As FMS instructor Rob Lalka from Village Capital pointed out “that’s a drop in the bucket when you compare it to the total size of global financial markets” estimated to be over $87 trillion.[2]

FMS instructor Amit Sharma, Co-Founder of Empowerment Capital and Wall Street veteran concurs:

“It is mind boggling that we can create the most esoteric, complex, opaque, multi-dimensional financial products that conceivably diversify risk and drive profits. Yet we do not apply that same talent and energy innovating financial enabling instruments that grow social enterprise.”

Sharma who teaches a module on impact metrics and social venture profiling argues that by definition social enterprise is wealth accretive and risk reductive—it can bring in 2.9 billion people living under $2 / day into the market place as consumers, producers, and market participants. “Social enterprise creates value and yet the amount of innovation in the financial and capital markets currently does not comport to this immense commercial potential.”

So what is preventing more mainstream capital from flowing into the impact space?

As another FMS Instructor and Invested Development Senior Investment Manager, Alex Bashian, explained, “the problem is matching a fragmented supply of deals with the right financially and mission-aligned counterparts on the investment side” The majority of impact investors are not willing to invest in seed-stage enterprises. Without the requisite data and metrics we all depend on in well-established financial markets (like credit history) most investors find it too risky. The majority will choose to invest when an enterprise is ready to scale. Yet without seed-stage capital few social ventures ever reach that point. Essentially it’s a Catch 22 – on the one hand you have investors that are risk averse on the other hand you have seed-stage entrepreneurs unable to assume the burden of traditional debt and equity financing. As Alex points out, “it’s difficult to move money into seed stage enterprises in many emerging markets given the existing system. As an impact fund we need to try and match the different needs for capital with appropriate financing products and other creative mechanisms to help enable growth in this space.”

When it comes to managing risk – metrics matter

One of the main barriers to mobilizing more investment capital into social enterprise is the lack of data and metrics that help investors understand and hedge their risk. Standard metrics for quantifying social impact and assessing risk in this space are difficult given the diversity of contexts in which these enterprises exist. As Sharma explains to students – “although we talk about social impact we continue to benchmark the majority of impact performance through solely monetized value.”

With the proliferation of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governmental) measurements like the Global Reporting Initiative, GIIRS, B Corporations and others it’s hard not to be overwhelmed. Sharma sees the proliferation of these impact metrics as a positive development but a symptom of the same disease that has caused failure in the mainstream – overly complex metrics that are difficult to translate across sectors and cultures, useful to some social enterprises and exclusionary to others, particularly in emerging market contexts. As Sharma emphasizes to students –

“we have to remember that impact, return and wealth creation are contextual, any model of metrics we create has to be dynamic, simple, user friendly, and in a language that the financial purist, socially neutral investor or institutional capital markets can use…as well as the philanthropist.”

No one understands this challenge better than Sharma whose career has straddled the non-profit, government and private sectors. Amit began his career in grass roots international development and social enterprise with the Peace Corps. After receiving an MBA and MA in International Policy Studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS), Amit worked at the U.S. Department of the Treasury where he served as a Senior Advisor in the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, which began as a special task force unit established post 9/11 to develop and execute anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing strategies. He later served as a member of the Department’s senior team, and Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary. He then moved on to Wall Street where he joined Mitsubishi UFJ Securities (USA) as their Chief of Staff and Project Management Head to their Global Markets Unit. It was during this period that Amit saw first-hand the power of capital markets as an engine for innovation and growth. Leaving Wall Street in 2013 he transitioned to a boutique consulting firm, Command Global Services (CGS), where he managed the investigation, intervention and recovery of stolen foreign assets from rogue states, as well as the strengthening of financial integrity and regulatory controls.

Amit Sharma, Co-Founder of Empowerment Capital and FMS Instructor shares the importance of impact metrics

Developing a common language

Recognizing the need to develop a common language between the impact and mainstream investment spaces, FMS Co-Founder Yuwei Shi approached Amit in 2014 to create a new FMS training module devoted to impact metrics.

In June 2014 the two collaborators launched Profiling Ventures for Impact Investing a two-day workshop led by Sharma that takes students through the current system of ESG ratings and analytics, including the ones commonly used in impact investing such as GIIRS. FMS participants then compare those metrics with established commercial financial rating systems and analytics to understand the complexity of “impact risks” more comprehensively, and in a manner that enables greater engagement with mainstream financial participants and stores of capital. Importantly, the workshop emphasizes the recognition and growth of social enterprise across all sectors, including among mainstream corporate entities.

Using what he calls “the five bucket approach” Sharma boils down five core aspects of venture profiling that any social entrepreneur, fiduciary, government regulator, investor or philanthropist is really concerned with – wealth, risk, market, assets and leverage – “how does one leverage their assets to mitigate or diversify their risks and service their respective markets to achieve their impact / wealth objectives?”

FMS Fellows at Winter 2015 Training in Monterey, CA

As Sharma emphasizes, “the purpose of this approach is to help students avoid getting pigeon holed in their thinking, which only contributes to the bifurcation between the social impact and corporate activities.” Instead of spending energy on trying to distinguish impact investing from mainstream investing the module encourages students to take a step back and see how they fundamentally relate. As Sharma points out, “the basis of all investing whether you’re a philanthropist or financial purist is to advance a particular objective to maximize returns in a manner commensurate with their deployed risk (this puts an emphasis on how “returns” are defined, and how risk is understood). We would be selling ourselves short by not engaging global commercial and financial entities and figuring out how to mobilize the power and influence of those markets to advance social enterprise as viable commercial endeavors.”

Impact Venture Profiling

Perhaps the most exciting opportunity the new module brings to FMS is the chance for fellows to contribute to the development of a more comprehensive solution to impact analytics that they can then go out and test in the field. Impact Venture Profiles is a new research-based initiative for select fellows heading out on 6-12 month field assignments in emerging markets. During their time in the field working with seed stage entrepreneurs, fellows will develop impact venture profiles to better understand the nature of social enterprise creation and operations, the universe of risk influencing social ventures, and to better refine the metrics and benchmarks that are required to grow impact activities.

FMS Fellow Coryell Stout with colleagues at One Degree Solar – Nairobi, Kenya

As Sharma explains, “we [at FMS and the Center for Social Impact Learning] have a tremendous opportunity with this research initiative to help overcome current bottlenecks in this space by providing crucial data and metrics to the impact venture community that are needed to redefine, validate and grow the ecosystem around social enterprise. The potential of these profiles is enormous—they can be used to create case studies for research and academic purposes, conduct deep dive due diligence for investors seeking a pipeline of deals, and as real-time management tools for scaling social enterprise. But most importantly it brings multiple stakeholders to the table, including those from the corporate arenas, to recognize social enterprise as profitable business –
to really move the needle.”


[1] Saltuk, Y., Idrissi, A., Bouri, A., Mudaliar, A., & Schiff, H. (2014). Spotlight on the market: The impact investor survey. Global Social Finance, JP Morgan and the Global Impact Investing Network, London, 2.




Frontier Market Scouts Take on the World Of Social Impact Investing

This post was submitted by MPA and FMS alumna Danielle Steer.

It’s not every day that a person can sit at a pub watching the World Cup and listen to four different languages at the surrounding tables, while discussing impact investing as a poverty alleviation strategy. Unless, of course, you’re a part of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey community. Today, this is my lunch break.

This experience seems apropos considering I’ve just finished two intense weeks in a classroom with 30 other inspiring, diverse, and experienced individuals and practitioners for the Middlebury Institute’s Frontier Market Scouts (FMS) program.

FMS Group Work

Participants from Around the World

I was unsure at first what types of professionals might be attracted to the program. My career has previously focused on gender education and development; so I was excited to learn more about how entrepreneurship could help build local economies and empower the impoverished. I was beyond pleased on the first day when I found out my colleagues in the class hailed from backgrounds not only in development and the public sector but also big banks and Wall Street. Some were gaining relevant professional experience during graduate school while others had quit jobs at Visa and Citibank to take part in the training and fellowship. We were also a geographically eclectic group as well with participants from Ireland, USA, Singapore, Australia, Philippines, Cameroon, China, the Netherlands, and Rwanda.

Ross Baird- FMS Instructor

Intense Training with Real Experts

The two week FMS training is broken down into five-two day workshops covering different aspects of social entrepreneurship from the scouting and entrepreneurs to the impact investor perspective.

The first session was taught by Ross Baird, Executive Director at Village Capital. Ross brings a contagious energy to the course and provides a great introduction to impacting investing and social enterprise. From pitching frameworks to impact evaluation criteria for entrepreneurs, we explored various options for how scouts might identify and develop entrepreneurs in emerging markets.

Session two brought a change of pace with Simon Dejardins, currently residing across the pond at the Shell Foundation in London. Although his content was jam packed with “how to scale” high impact social enterprises, we were able to experiment with various approaches in business support and stakeholder analyses.

The half-way point of the training brought Dr. Yuwei Shi,  founder and Director of Research at the Center for Social Impact Learning at MIIS. Yuwei focused on an action learning approach to business modeling by bringing in fellow experts on business development and ideation. In addition we explored a live case study, Salud2. Salud2 is a social enterprise at the concept phase started by five MIIS alumni this spring. Although Salud2 was a runner up at the recent Hult Prize competition, the FMS participants were able to go through the a business modeling exercise to help Salud2 consider alternative directions they might take their business before they enroll at the Hult Accelerator this summer.

With two sessions still to go, the FMS crew took a two day break to process the immense information we had covered over the week. We were also able to take advantage of the local beauty and activities along the way!

Feeling rested we returned to the ever charismatic, Paul Berloff of Accion Venture Labs. Paul led us through a series of lectures and activities focusing on investor perspectives.   From the due diligence and the role of investors to the trends and criteria for impact we took an in-depth look at impact investing through the eyes of Accion Venture Labs.

For the final training session, we were joined by MIIS alumni, Amit Sharma and Ravi Kurani. This workshop provided an overview of the current universe of systems of environmental, social, and governance ratings (ESG ratings and analytics), including the ones commonly used in impact investing such as GIIRS. We also walked through the development of ImpactSpace , a start-up with the mission to help capture data and impact measurements for social ventures working with their counterparts.

FMS Participant Nicole Manipol

Putting it All Together

Although I feel like I’m still processing information, theory, methodology, and tools packed into two short weeks, there were some common themes and big ideas throughout the course.

In the classroom I learned not only from the practitioners brought in to teach but also my colleagues. The class was a healthy mix of experience and knowledge that allowed us to work in meaningful and balanced groups. When I faltered on financial models, the ex-Citibank employee was there to simplify the process. When we talked about design and impact, the development students helped clarify impact metrics and the methodologies used to understand them.

After class, we dove into the nuances of culture and various informal aspects of the impact investing space during happy hour. Each of the practitioners took the time to get to know the participants and share stories about their very different experiences in the space.

As a people person, I really enjoyed the focus on relationship-building as a common theme throughout the two-week training. Whether you’re an entrepreneur looking for seed funding or an investor hoping to make an impact, personal connection and human interaction drive the entire process. I feel fortunate that I now have 30 new FMS colleagues in the field and around the world.

FMS Particpants in Big Sur



Fellow Impact: FMS Fellow Madelle Kangha takes on Africa’s Youth Unemployment Challenge

Madelle Kangha_Profile
FMS Fellow Madelle Kangha

This post was submitted by MPA student and FMS alumna Nicole Manapol

Madelle Kangha may have just completed the FMS Training in June but this budding social entrepreneur (and aspiring leader of Cameroon) is already having a big impact on one of Africa’s most complex challenges – youth unemployment.

Since launching the JumpStart Academy Africa in 2013 with her Nigerian friend, Omotola Akinsola their venture has trained 220 young people from Cameroon and Nigeria in ethical leadership, civic engagement and entrepreneurship. JumpStart also provides employment opportunities to 30 young people.

One of their scholars from Ndu, Cameroon recently became one of 50 young people across Africa selected to join the inaugural class of the Yale Young African Scholars program. JumpStart Academy was also recently nominated for the Youth Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition, an international contest sponsored by the Goi Peace Foundation, Stiftung Entrepreneurship and UNESCO.

Madelle and her team have big impact goals – their plan is to reach 17,000 young people over the next 5 years.

In this interview Madelle talks about what led her to establish JumpStart and how the Frontier Market Scouts Program can help social entrepreneurs accelerate their impact.

Tell us a bit about your background – what led you to establish your own social venture?

Growing up amidst challenges in Cameroon lit a fire in me to create a more equitable society. I also benefited from strong role models, like my parents and siblings. This inspired my mantra and daily motto: “Setting the sky as your limit is overrated – Set the sky as your base. For in doing so, you soar to new heights and define the boundaries of what is possible.”

Beyond my personal experiences, I also had a very rich and unique education, which is at the core of my work as a social entrepreneur – especially with regards to Jumpstart Academy Africa. After 7 years in an all­girls boarding school, I learnt the possibility and value of female leadership in society. At the African Leadership Academy, I learnt firsthand how to design and implement solutions, business principles and new languages like Swahili.

During my time at the London School of Economics, I immersed myself in extracurricular activities such as helping pupils with their school work and raising their aspirations for higher education, running free law clinics, participating in Moot Courts, serving as Marketing Director for the LSE Entrepreneurs Society, Events Officer for the LSE Catholic Society, and study abroad with the LSE UN society at United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

Beyond academics, I was fortunate to undertake challenging internships and work experience programs with leading organizations such as Clifford Chance, Oliver Wyman, ICAP Plc, Standard Bank, Shearman and Sterling LLP and Teach First.

With these experiences, I set out to implement my ideas to create a better world; first with Youths4Change and then with Jumpstart Academy Africa.

What do you love most about your work?

My work as a social entrepreneur is all about creating value in a way that changes lives and advances society – this is what drives me.

I love that every day presents a new learning curve for me but my most important lesson has been managing the triple bottom line – People, Planet and Profit. My business can’t sustain itself without profits, and the world can’t be sustained without my business.

Managing multiple bottom lines can be a challenge but a combination of a well thought out model, a clear set of operating principles, deep passion and sufficient attraction of capital taken altogether, can allow a social entrepreneur to have both mission and margin.

Tell us about the JumpStart Academy – how did this all begin?

I enrolled at Watson University in 2013. It was at Watson that my path crossed with Omotola Akinsola, a groundbreaking changemaker from Nigeria. Aside from the fact that we both hope to someday lead our respective countries, we also had the same theory of social change – so we joined forces and Jumpstart Academy Africa was born.

The idea behind Jumpstart Academy Africa is simple ­ using the principles of ethical leadership and entrepreneurship; students can learn the skills needed in today’s transformed and transitory world. Beyond acquiring skills, students receive training that enables them to innovate across different sectors – to be job creators as opposed to the old rhetoric of job seekers.

Why does this matter? Currently, Africa is the most youthful continent in the world. At least 35 per cent of its more than 1 billion population is between the ages of 15 and 35. Experts estimate this could double by 2045. Africa is home to the world’s fastest growing labor force, which by 2040, is expected to grow to 1.1 billion people. With an ever-increasing youthful population, the challenges are ever increasing, more complex and more urgent. Most pertinent is the fact that Africa is home to seven of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world, yet 70% of the working­age population is unemployed.

This means reaping the demographic dividend of Africa’s youthful population is not a given. It requires immediate and urgent substantial investment. Africa’s largely youthful population makes up the next generation of workers, politicians, teachers, parents, entrepreneurs and leaders. I firmly believe that harnessing the untapped potential of Africa’s youthful population is key to achieving economic growth and prosperity for the continent.

At Jumpstart Academy Africa, we are tackling this challenge via Leadership and Entrepreneurship. The model is simple. JumpStart Academy delivers a two-year Leadership and Entrepreneurship curriculum to students aged 15 – 18 across partner secondary schools, through trained university students and graduates. Currently, we serve over 220 students in 15 schools across Cameroon and Nigeria. Ourgoal is to reach over 17,000 young people across 10 countries in the next 5 years.

Tell us about your FMS Experience – how did you first learn of the program and what were the most valuable aspects of the training for you?

I first learnt about FMS at the Net Impact conference in San Francisco last year where I was fortunate to meet Yuwei Shi – the founding director of the FMS program and Dean of the Graduate School of International Policy and Management at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. He told me about the program and encouraged me to apply. Less than a year later I was attending the June training in Monterey.

My FMS Experience was great. I was impressed with the caliber of the fellows, the mentors and trainers. The content of the training was very well tailored and relevant to my work with the JumpStart Academy. I particularly liked Ross Baird’s session on the Fit Framework, which looks at the Investor’s perspective in the Social Impact Space. This has been a very useful tool as it gives me insight as a social entrepreneur into what investors are looking for when considering whether or not to fund a venture.

As a social entrepreneur the training is invigorating – you get to bounce ideas off of others working in the space, collaborate and in my case – recruit talent for my enterprise!

Any advice for other aspiring social entrepreneurs?

Yes – Fail often to succeed sooner!!!

Learn more about the JumpStart Academy and how to get involved:

Vote for the JumpStart Academy Africa in the Youth Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition

Keep up with Madelle and other fellows at

For more information, visit Read our blog at Follow us on Twitter @FMScouts and on Facebook at

Corey arrives in Nairobi

FMS 2014 Fellow Corey Stout  landed in Nairobi recently to begin her field assignment as a Project Manager for  One Degree Solar.  Corey, whose Kenyan nickname is “Mac Truck,” shares her most recent adventures in the field: 

Corey Stout, FMS 2014  Placement: One Degree Solar
Corey Stout, FMS 2014
Placement: One Degree Solar

What is an SQ?
My move to Nairobi is official: resident of Trafford Court in Kilimani, two minute commute to work, and occupant of our home’s SQ. What is an SQ, you ask? Wise question, I tell you. And wise question that I did not ask. Although you may think that SQ stands for square feet, which makes complete sense (at least for some…or one), it is in fact the abbreviation for Servant’s Quarters. Needless to say, I was in for a treat when I moved into my “room”, the SQ or Servant’s Quarters of our house. While I have a knack for small rooms, I am getting used to the world of the tiny. The SQ’s 7x7x7 measurement does not take into account the 8 car batteries, which take up 1/3 of the room, and serve as the backup power for the rest of the house. Fortunately, a metal cage surrounds the batteries (they can electrocute upon touch…this finding may or may not have been from personal experience), so I have created a makeshift closet/clothes steamer by placing hangers around it. And to think that everyone thought Sophie was the crafty one in our D.C. apartment. DIY has basically become my middle name.

During my first night in the SQ (apparently you do not even refer to it as a room…let alone your room; while it may be a faux pas to say “my SQ,” I have no qualms about reminding my roommates that I hold the keys to our backup power), I decided to test the shower in the adjoining bathroom. The “bathroom”, which is attached directly to the SQ “bedroom”, consists of the basics: a toilet, sink, shower head and facet. There are no floor or wall dividers around the shower head or facet to separate the “shower” from the rest of the bathroom and the rest of the bedroom is only divided from the bathroom by a door. Confused? Just picture a minimalist’s heaven. While I am not new to the concept of shower heads in a bathroom without a shower, I am new to double checking that a drain exists prior to exfoliation.

Meeting the Roommates
Halfway into my ice cold shower, I heard a loud thump. Luckily, I did not have to waste any time dealing with shower doors (serious feng shui) and quickly opened the door of the bathroom to see that the SQ was completely flooded…and my only clean outfit for my first day of work had fallen from its “closet” and was drowning. I had not yet had the pleasure of meeting my five roommates nor was I aware that they were all male (again, who would have thought to ask such questions?), but I made my presence and estrogen known. With a neon pink towel, soaking wet hair, and a trail of soap suds, I ran to the main house (since the SQ is obviously separate), startling Mark, David, and Andrew, who were just about ready to dive into their Indian takeout. Alas, as the true gentleman that they are, they abandoned their chicken masala and instead dove into the SQ pond, rushing to get towels, switching off the backup power (opps), and helping to mop up the water, which had begun to rush out of the SQ into the driveway. Night and SQ saved. Note to self: always make sure that your shower has a drain (and use any SQ flooding as an excuse to shower in the the main house, which has hot water…très luxurious).

Despite my first night’s mishap, I have gotten used to the SQ, settled into my job, and fallen in love with Kenya. I am working for One Degree Solar, a solar energy company that brings power to households, schools, and business without access to electricity, and overseeing our plans to scale within Kenya and across East Africa. As cheesy as it sounds, I still have to pinch myself each morning that I am actually here and working for such an exciting company.

The Making of the “Mac Truck”
Finally, five short, but essential, updates to get you fully up-to-speed on my life (whether by blood, water, or beer, this is what you signed up for, after all):

  • My boss has coined me the “Mac Truck.” He claims the nickname is from my abrupt body rotations and tendency to bump into anyone/anything in my path (i.e. I still have not regained horizontal head/neck movement), but I have stopped throwing out my chocolate wrappers in his trash can.
  • Up until yesterday, my brother thought I had moved to Accra, Ghana (and we only discovered this because he had looked up flights to come visit…I still have not decided whether the points for a visitation attempt negate this “mistake”).
  • I have already signed up two customers to purchase One Degree Solar’s BrightBox, our flagship solar kit that can power four lights, 10 phones, any USB device, and a radio for up to 24 hours (cue “wowza!”): Sudanese refugee camps on the Northwestern border and Mark, the mango seller outside of my office. I made the sale to the refugee camps by pitching our product to an international aid organization and I made the sale to Mark by convincing him that my mango consumption will pay off his BrightBox in a month. Though the pitches and quantities purchased differed, I am equally proud of both.
  • I have already set off the fire alarm twice in our house (popcorn burns so easily), broken our living room speakers (re: Mac Truck bullet above), and woken up the next door neighbors with my persistent use of snooze in the morning (our security guard had to knock on my window to kindly ask me to “please wake up, Miss. Query”), but fortunately my roommates are forgiving and have accepted me for the liability that I am (I wish I could say the same about my neighbors).
  • The amazing Elyse Lipman came to visit last weekend. We took motorcycles to Karen (a beautiful suburb named for Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa), fed giraffes at Nairobi’s giraffe sanctuary, bonded with orphaned elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, and safaried in Nairobi National Park (black rhino spotting included!). Am I rubbing my new backyard in your face? You betcha.

Any and all visitors are welcome!! Miss you all!

xoxo, Corey


Special announcement: Frontier Market Scouts expanding to US Placements, in partnership with Sorenson Center for Global Impact Investing!

Have you ever talked with someone looking to get into impact investing as a career–and didn’t have any answers on where to go? Over the past three years, the Frontier Market Scouts program, which was launched in 2011 in partnership with Village Capital and Sanghata Global, has been an invaluable launchpad for professionals aspiring to enter the impact investment world–we’ve trained and placed over 75 professionals with investors and start-up ventures in emerging markets over the last three years.

From a professional standpoint at Village Capital, the Frontier Market Scouts have been critical to Village Capital’s sourcing engine: they have recruited over 5,000 unique enterprises to apply to programs in the past 24 months, largely led by Scouts on the ground. Scouts come from top graduate programs and professional firms such as Goldman Sachs, Cambridge & Associates, TDBank, and Deloitte; placements globally have included firms as wide-ranging as Invested Development (Kenya); Unitus Seed Fund (India); Artemisia (Brazil); Transist (China); and New Ventures (Mexico).

FMS and Village Capital are excited to announce that this summer, we will be launching the first US-based Scout placements, in partnership with the Sorenson Center for Global Impact Investing, based at the University of Utah. Scouts will undergo a two-week practitioner-led training in Salt Lake City at the Sorenson Center for Global Impact Investing (formerly known as the University Impact Fund); at the end of the training, they will be placed with impact investors and startup enterprises across the U.S. The program–including curriculum and placements–will be operated in partnership with MIIS.

How you can get involved:

1. Do you know a talented person looking to break into impact investing as a profession? Please forward this e-mail to them: we’ve found the Scouts program to be an excellent career on-ramp. Applications are due May 7th, and the training begins in Salt Lake on May 28th; application can be found at:

2. Are you based in the U.S., and do you need short-term project help? Please fill out the short partner form ( if you’d like to have a Scout work with you. Scout placements last three-to-six months, starting in mid-June and ending in mid-December. Scouts have been able to add value in deal sourcing, diligence, operational assistance, and sales/business development. You’ll have the opportunity to interview potential placements directly, and we will ask placement partners to contribute a small stipend.

Application Deadline for Spring/Summer 2013 Frontier Market Scouts Fellowship is November 1st!

Jointly developed and managed by the Monterey Institute, Sanghata Global, and Village Capital, the Frontier Market Scouts (FMS) program turns compassionate and capable young professionals into talent scouts and investment managers serving local entrepreneurs and social-minded investors in low-income and capital-weak regions of the world.
The Scouts’ mission is to enable the enterprising poor to scale poverty alleviation solutions in capital-weak areas of emerging markets, while gaining career defining and life changing experience.
The Frontier Market Scouts Fellowship in Social Enterprise and Impact Investment Management is awarding 30 fellowship positions for Spring/Summer 2013.  Opportunities are available in 20+ countries with organizations like Village Capital, the Shell Foundation, and Invested Development.  Applications due November 1, 2012 – submit yours today!

We did it! – Guest Post by FM Scout Zuleyma Bebell


We did it! Three months in the making, one month delayed because of Ramadan and busy schedules, but it happened. On September 5th, at Green Day Café, Village Capital and the Start-up Series Amman co-hosted the first, and for sure not the last, coffee hour focused on social enterprises and impact investment.  With over fifty participants, we filled the room—coffee in hand and cupcakes to match—and set up to discuss what it means to be a social entrepreneur.  The topic in Amman, as in the rest of the world, is still too abstract but one thing was very clear, Jordan could sure benefit from developing a strong and nurturing environment for its social and traditional entrepreneurs.

While our original intent was to adapt the social enterprise or SocEnt definition—‘doing good while simultaneously creating profit’—to the Jordanian context, the evening evolved into a more comprehensive and interactive learning activity. Participants took the opportunity to talk about their businesses, share their experiences on being an entrepreneur and to talk about the challenges faced when attempting to take their enterprises to the next level. Yet, to me, one of the most fascinating things to watch was the internalization of the SocEnt concept as the entrepreneurs debated whether their enterprises fit the definition.  Having this open and honest discussion was the reason for the event and clearly it was much needed.

One of the re-occurring themes of the evening was the sense of readiness from the entrepreneurs to become proactive and to abandon the passive stance of years past. The option of waiting for direction and solutions to solve social problems was no longer an option; rather they declared, it was time to work with what they have and take ownership of their actions and become drivers of change.  Given the scale of the social transformation taking place in the region, this is exactly the kind of attitude needed to move forward and it is even more exciting to seen it happening at the grass root level!

The social challenges affecting Jordan are no different than any other emerging nation: outdated educational system, pollution, depleting natural resources, energy deficiency and unemployment. All of which can be partially addressed by social enterprises. At the event, entrepreneurs proudly showcased their contributions in tackling these challenges—whether by providing low-cost IT services to SMEs, connecting volunteers to projects, promoting local talent and crafts and by improving livelihoods through housing improvement projects—are just some of the examples by which Jordanian entrepreneurs are doing their part to make a difference.

So what is next? The conversation has been started, but there is a lot more to do. Despite the bureaucratic setbacks and the infancy of the social entrepreneurial scene in Jordan, there is no lack of human capital and herein lies one of Jordan’s greatest resources—its people.  Jordanian entrepreneurs would benefit from creating a cohesive and empowering environment that promotes the development of their enterprises, and ideally, simultaneously the social enterprise scene that demands the much deserved attention of investors and supporters; only then, will they be able to stipulate the terms of the social and economic reforms to expand their scope and potential.

For more information on the social enterprise scene in Jordan check out our Facebook page


Join Frontier Market Scouts and MIIS for a social event following SOCAP on October 3rd!

In the spirit of SOCAP (Social Capital Markets), we invite you to continue (or join!) the conversation on social enterprise and impact investment with your friends at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and the Frontier Market Scouts Program.

When: October 3rd, 4:30-7 PM

Where: The Pub at Ghirardelli Square, 851 Beach Street, San Francisco, CA, 94109

Who: This event will bring together SOCAP conference attendees, and friends and alumni from the Monterey Institute and Frontier Market Scout programs. 

Join us for cocktails and appetizers!

Please RSVP on this site by October2nd.

For questions, call, 831-647-6417 or email


Summer Frontier Market Scouts Finishing their Assignments

Eight of the twenty one scouts that are currently on assignment are finishing up their assignments by the end of August. Our scouts had exciting summer internships with partners such as The Hub-BogotaThe Hub- IstanbulGrowth Africa, Village Capital – India, Qmágico, and more.

The scouts gained hands on experience in investing at the Base of the Pyramid, while focusing on market-based solutions and private sector development to alleviate the poverty much the of the enterprising poor population endures.

Be sure to follow their blogs as they finish up their assignments. The scouts already have offered substantial insight into the field of impact investing through their blogs, and we expect even more as they wrap up and reflect on their experiences. Their blogs can be found at: 2012 Scouts in the Field.

For more information on the Frontier Market Scouts Program, a joint venture of the Monterey Institute of International Studies, Sanghata Global, and Village Capital, please visit the FMS Site.

Frontier Market Scouts is sending its largest group ever into the field!

The Frontier Market Scouts Program is sending its largest group ever of scouts into the field to locations such as Colombia, Brazil, India, Kenya, South Africa, and more! The scouts just completed their training program last week, with 29 taking part in training and 21 of them going onto field assignments.

This group’s scouts come from very diverse backgrounds: recent college graduates from places such as Kenyon College and Davidson College, graduate students, MBAs, PhDs, and JDs from institutions such as University of Michigan, Bard College, and Syracuse University, Yale, and Columbia University, and mid-career professionals seeking to become involved in the continually growing field of impact investing.

For this round of the program, we are sending scouts to 15 different in-country partners, such as Invested Development, Growth Africa, the Hub Istanbul and, the Hub Bogota, to name a few. Our scouts will be located in Central and South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia, working to apply the wealth of new knowledge they have gained through the FMS training.

The goal of the scouts is to enable the enterprising poor to scale poverty alleviation in capital-weak areas of emerging markets, while gaining career defining and life changing experiences. Keep up-to-date with the work the scouts are doing through the FMS blog, which will be updated with their blog posts throughout their assignments. More information on the FMS program can be found at: Of course, this program would not be possible without our partners, Village Capital and Sanghata Global.

Stay up to date with the scouts while they are in the field! Here are a couple of their blogs:

Erin Chmelik’s Blog

Jennifer Clessas’s Blog

Frontier Market Scouts Partner Adds 2 Social Ventures to its Growing Portfolio

Let me start be saying that we could not be happier to be partnered with such a game-changing organization – Village Capital, or VilCap for short.   Though still only 3 years old, this high-powered 501(c)3 is truly democratizing entrepreneurship through its peer-led social enterprise accelerator programs.

By offering social entrepreneurs the chance to collaborate, evaluate, and critique one another they receive valuable, real-time assistance and mentorship from their peers and experienced professionals, not to mention access to capital which is pre-committee by Village Capital’s partners.  What’s more is that Village Capital also uses the accelerator’s peer evaluation process to select and invest in 2 – 3 outstanding enterprises for its own portfolio.  This is a win-win!  Village Capital is able to divert funding from due diligence processes into seed-stage investments, and social entrepreneurs have increased access to capital.

VilCap just wrapped up its 3rd accelerator program in India with Dasra, a non-profit incubator that provides technical assistance to the most promising social entrepreneurs in the region.  After an intensive 6 months, two enterprises stood out above the rest and are now part of the Village Capital portfolio: Waste Ventures and Simpa Networks.

Waste Ventures has created a market-based solution for the informal waste collecting sector in India, providing a livable wage for waste collectors and selling the refuse to compost, recycling, and solid waste management companies.  What’s unique about Waste Ventures is that it has created a viable business benefitting the poorest of the poor in India, a feat that has been met with great difficulty in the past.  In terms of impact, WV has already improved the livelihoods of 300 waste pickers and will be using the investment from Village Capital to expand their program to other cities.

Simpa Networks has developed a mechanism to make renewable home energy devices more affordable for consumers at the base of the pyramid.  Their “pay as you go” system allows consumers to only pay for the renewable energy they consume right from their own mobile device.  With 1,000 systems already in place, Simpa will use its investment from VilCap to expand beyond their pilot program.

These two ventures represent just a small slice of what makes up Village Capital’s portfolio of game-changing social enterprises.  Other superstars from past accelerator programs include Quadrado Magico, an affordable e-learning company in Brazil; Rainsaucers, a rainwater-harvesting company that provides clean running water in Guatemala; Tastia, an “ebay” for local agriculture in London; and many more!

For more information on Frontier Market Scouts, visit us online!

FMS Hits the Road

The FMS team took to the California highways this past month to participate in several events promoting impact investment and social entrepreneur development.

Our first stop landed us in San Francisco at the SOCAP-Soul conference.  SOCAP, or Social Capital Markets, is an annual event series that promotes the development of the social enterprise and impact investment industry.  The purpose of SOCAP-Soul was to dig a bit deeper in uncovering the meaning behind our actions in social enterprise and impact investment.  Did we embark on a social project because of the projected impact? Or a potential financial upside?  Or was there something else motivating our decision… personal fulfillment, faith, spirituality, or maybe even guilt?

Speaker pane at Socap Soul! Photo credit:

Our favorite part of SOCAP-Soul was being able to share the success of Frontier Market Scouts with our earliest supporters as well as introduce the program to new players in the field.  As the day went on, it quickly became apparent in our conversations that the experience a Frontier Market Scout receives while on assignment is truly unique and un-matched by any other program or internship program.  Leaving the conference, it felt great knowing that the FMS program is supported by so many!

We’re looking forward to SOCAP ’12 this October in Ft. Mason, California which will draw thousands of social innovation leaders and movers and shakers from around the world to highlight the industry’s successes and discuss its most pressing challenges.

Later in the month, we traveled south to San Louis Obispo for the Cal Poly Social Entrepreneurship Forum on doing good while doing well.  FMS was invited to pitch our program to graduating seniors, faculty, and alumni along with other organizations and enterprises.  Our fellow “pitchers” were quite impressive, and included talented innovators from the Cal Poly Quality of Life Plus (QL+) Labs where students and faculty work together to design affordable healthcare technologies for returned veterans… and we thought we were doing cool stuff!

The pitchfest was followed by a keynote speech from the founder of Guayaki Yerba Mate drinks, David Karr, who along with 4 other co-founders commercialized the cultural cornerstone of Southern Latin America, Yerba Mate.  David and his team found a way to cultivate and market yerba mate not only in a sustainable fashion but also in a way that improves of livelihoods of the Yerba Mate farmers in Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. We’re continually amazed by enterprises that can “do well by doing good,” and Guayaki is an exemplary case!

April will be another busy month for FMS as we prepare for our upcoming June FMS training so our road-warrior ways have come to an end.

…for now, at least.

2011 in Review

The FMS program kicks off!

Few career paths exist for aspiring professionals in social enterprise.  We addressed that directly through a combination of innovative training and field experience.  Since we launched in January, we:

  • Trained 30 aspiring professionals to pursue careers combining finance and impact.  Our trainings, led by top facultyand best-in-class investors and entrepreneurs, covered due diligence, investment selection, enterprise operations, and impact assessment.
  • Placed 16 scouts for full-time engagements in eight countries, working on the front lines in Brazil, India, Vietnam, Nigeria, Lebanon, Egypt, Ecuador, and Tanzania.

Served 57 entrepreneurs in sectors directly addressing poverty, including health, education, disabled services, sustainable agriculture, and clean energy/environment.


Let’s take a look at two of our scouts in Action…

Yi-Ching Hwang worked with v-shesh, helping the management team develop an affordable vocational training academy for the deaf in India, teaching computer skills for low-income deaf jobseekers.  Yi-Ching’s efforts resulted in over 200 deaf students finding well-paying jobs in the tech sector, many at major corporations: Barclays, Wipro, Cisco, and Citi. After her placement, Yi-Ching found an opportunity as a program manager for a foundation in Uganda.

Ravi Kurani worked with Under The Mango Tree, which through teaching rural farmers to use beekeeping, can increase clients’ income over 300%.   Under the Mango Tree then sells honey sourced from the farms in order to become a profitable enterprise.  Ravi served as a “COO” for Under the Mango Tree, building a supply chain management system, financial model, and pricing strategy to help Under the Mango Tree scale.  Through the program, Ravi has found a post-graduate job at Hub Ventures, a Bay Area incubator for social enterprise.

We just deployed 4 new scouts for Spring 2012.  Jennifer, Hallie, Elma, and Clare will be taking the good news of social entrepreneurship and impact investment to 3 different countries in Central and South America.  Stay tuned to keep up on their experiences.

Sites DOT MIISThe Middlebury Institute site network.