Empowering Sustainable International Development


In an ideal collaboration the International Sustainability Club (ISC) at the leading school for sustainable business, Presidio Graduate School,  partnered with Zawadisha to analyze and provide insights for  Kenyan women’s entrepreneurship in environmentally conscious products.

Zawadisha is a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower, entrust and expand opportunities for women through micro-lending, preventative healthcare, and education. They accomplish this through funding micro loans which address the triple bottom line (people, planet, profit) – such as water tanks, and solar lamps.

Allyn McAuley, a MBA Candidate at Presidio whose focus area is in the development of software solutions for the world’s most pressing environmental and social problems, explains the success factors of Zawadisha’s approach:

Zawadisha’s approach differs from many micro-finance organizations because their eco-product ideas come from the women that they serve (their members), not from the organization. In addition, Zawadisha works solely with women’s groups, as opposed to individuals, because groups provide the support and accountability necessary for successful lending and repayment of loans.

The ISC students assessed the financial, social and environmental impacts of the micro-loans, including the Grameen Foundation’s Progress out of Poverty Index. The information collected was used to visualize and identify opportunities within the network.  Outcomes included storyboards (individual and organizational), money management training modules, as well as the incredible opportunity to share knowledge on how to address social and environmental issues from one set of business leaders to another.

I cannot help but feel a sense of hope that widespread solutions are within reach, if we continue to share expertise and work together to create worldwide change.

Have you participated in a micro-loan program? Where do you see the largest opportunities for business to solve social and environmental issues today? Are you involved in supporting those who are pursuing positive change? Please share links to other worthwhile projects below!

**If you enjoyed the content of this post, please consider following my blog, reblogging, and/or sharing on social media (twitter, linkedin, facebook)**

You may also enjoy other articles on how business or investing can create change: Q&A interview with Impact Investor, William Doll OR Sustainable Investing for the Future.

16 thoughts on “Empowering Sustainable International Development

  1. Hey Laura, I work for a Non-Profit organisation in South Africa – The Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust (www.hillaids.org.za) – and also have a passion for sustainability, gender equality and community development. It’s always so interesting to hear about other work happening around the world, though of the African context is particularly relevant. Micro-lending schemes seem to be flourishing at the moment, and I’m interested in how they are being run as we support 46 groups of rural women in our Granny Support Groups project coming together and starting micro-enterprises. Thanks for following my blog – I look forward to further interaction!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Brilliant Laurel, I’d love to hear more about your work. If you’d like me to connect you with people working in this particular organization, please send me a note under ‘About/Collaboration’ and I’d be pleased to put you in touch. All the best!


  2. My personal experience along these lines has to do with funding loans thru Kiva. It’s always fun to peruse the list and pictures of groups you could fund and find out what they’re doing and what the money would be used for. And it really touches my heart whenever I get a notice that a part of the loan has been repaid….usually just a couple of dollars at a time, but you know in these situations what such a small amt can do and how hard the group has worked to be able to make the payment.


  3. I have been doing micro loans to developing countries via Kiva.org for years. It’s worked out to be around $30,000. I can’t afford to donate that much but a loan gets recycled so I can reloan each month. Aid doesn’t work long term, people become dependant on it. A loan encourages self sufficiency.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I mentioned doing Kiva micro loans in my comment, too. Haven’t been doing it for as long as you, but I love to have that platform available and so enjoy thinking about the various groups that such small investment amts can help so much.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on As I see it and commented:
    I want to see more of this not just overseas but here in the US too. The more we support small scale innovators with long range vision that includes environmentally, and HUMAN responsible businesses I think it will influence the “big dogs.”

    Liked by 1 person

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