Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Alumni Enable Two Students to Participate in Social Enterprise World Forum in Rio de Janeiro

Social Enterprise World Forum

MIIS students and alumni at SEWF2012: Katie Holmberg, Geoff Schwarten, Nelle Sacknoff and Elma Paulauskaite

November 14, 2012

“My mind was blown a little bit,” says Katie Holmberg (MAIPS ’13) of her participation in the Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF2012) in Rio de Janeiro last month. “Impact investing is becoming such a big thing.” Katie and Elma Paulauskaite (MAIPS ’12) travelled to the Rio after securing competitive scholarships introduced to them by Nelle Sacknoff (MPA ’12), global communications manager at NESsT.

Both Katie and Elma have made the most of immersive learning opportunities offered at the Monterey Institute. Elma was a Frontier Market Scout in Brazil and was able to build on the connections she had made at SEWF2012 and form new professional relationships. To learn about some of the key findings of the Forum check out Elma's blog. She is now working as a paid intern with Maya Mountain Cacao in Belize, a true social enterprise – another experience made possible through the MIIS network!

Katie has been a very active member of Team Peru, a student-driven program in the Sacred Valley of Peru, supported by the Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development, which was established by Monterey Institute alumni. While working on a social enterprise called INKAcase with women from the area, tackling issues such as supply chain management, relationships with local leaders, government officials and other organizations, Katie managed to find the time to write her winning application for the SEWF2012 scholarship. “My inspiration was the INKAcase project.”

"It was no surprise MIIS students received the acceptance of this prestigious scholarship to participate in SEWF2012 (the most from one school out of the 65 students chosen from 17 different countries)," says Nelle Sacknoff. She started working for NESsT only two days after graduating from MIIS this spring and has been busy organizing SEWF2012 ever since. "This was the first time SEWF was held in a developing and non-English speaking country with incredibly diverse and international stakeholders. All healthy but not easy challenges, so having multi-lingual, professional, talented and resourceful volunteers who took initiative and showed leadership during a complex and milestone experience was an incredible asset to our team. (And, of course I expect nothing less from MIIS students!)."

Both students are interested in building a career in the field of impact investing and social enterprise and say their time in Rio was a very valuable learning experience. Katie says the Team Peru experience has helped to clarify her interest in private sector development: “I really like the idea of paving a path for people to help themselves.” An idea that obviously also appeals to the supportive MIIS alumni network!

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