Change & Innovation, Justice

Our impact in Latin America and the Caribbean, Part 1

In fall 2019, EF will host the first regional program dedicated to Latin America and the Caribbean in more than ten years. Before these 23 new Fellows arrive, get to know just a few of the 257 Eisenhower Fellows living in Latin America and the Caribbean and learn what they are doing in their communities to make a difference.

Laura Alonso (Argentina ’08)

Government watchdog for anti-corruption in Argentina

A former head of the Argentinian chapter of the global anti-corruption coalition Transparency International, Laura Alonso (Argentina ’08) was appointed to the lead Argentina’s anti-corruption office in 2015 by President Mauricio Macri. He also encouraged her to run for a seat in the country’s House of Representatives, which she won in 2009. While serving as a watchdog at home, Laura represents Argentina on global anti-corruption initiatives at meetings of the G20 and the Organization for Economic Cooperation Development.

Listen to Laura tell her story below.

Laura Alonso (Argentina ’08) featured above center.

Advancing economic opportunities for Jamaican youth through music education, emphasizing reggae as a national asset

Imani Duncan-Price (Jamaica ’18) featured with a local teacher who attended the train-the-trainer workshop.

Employing new technology and artificial intelligence, Imani Duncan-Price (Jamaica ’18) leveraged a Jamaican cultural treasure and partnered with MusicQuest, a software app that allows students to create original songs using the computerized sounds of more than 40 instruments. Leading the company’s pilot program in Jamaica, she brought it to 1,100 students in five schools, trained 22 teachers in the technology and anticipates expanding to one-fifth of the nation’s schools over the next three years.

Featured (L-R, front row): G. Nagesh Rao (USA ’17), Imani Duncan-Price (Jamaica ’18), Yasmine Abdel-Razek (Egypt ’18), Jerry Kuo (Chinese Taipei ’18). (L-R, back row): Jack Bienko (USA ’16) and Temitayo Etomi (Nigeria ’18).

University leader got his start as scientist and museum director

Marcelo Knobel (Brazil ’07) is the rector of Universidade de Campinas.

Marcelo Knobel (Brazil ’07) is the rector at the Universidade de Campinas in Brazil. Just 12 years ago, he came to the United States on his Eisenhower Fellowship to think about ways to grow the museum he directed at the time, which focused on science and science education, into something bigger and more impactful. He now leads one of the consistently top-ranked universities in Brazil and Latin America. Unicamp is responsible for 15% of Brazil’s research and is a publicly-funded university offering tuition free undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Listen below for his story.

Justice, Peace

Thirty years in the making: keeping the peace on the Island of Ireland

Securing and preserving the peace between the governments of Northern Ireland and the Ireland Republic (Fellows and their spouses from the 1989 Island of Ireland program)

2019 marks 30 years since EF’s historic Single-Area Program brought together Fellows from Ireland’s North and South. Choosing cross-community conciliation in a divided society, they played key roles in the negotiations that produced the Good Friday Agreement and the efforts to preserve the peace on the Island of Ireland since then.

Watch pioneers from the Good Friday Agreement and Eisenhower Fellows from the 1989 Island of Ireland program share their story here.

Northern Ireland Fellow Tom Frawley (’89) shares his life lessons learned and how he made an impact after his Eisenhower Fellowship here in an interview conducted by Eisenhower Fellow Rabia Garib (Pakistan ’07).

2019 Island of Ireland Fellows while on fellowship in the U.S.

Listen to 2019 Northern Ireland Fellows experts Katy Hayward and Stephen Rusk discuss what Brexit means for Northern Ireland in this podcast conducted by our partners at Knowledge@Wharton.

Read Trudy Rubin’s article in the Philadelphia Inquirer on how Eisenhower Fellows were involved in building the Good Friday Agreement.

Prosperity

Economist increasing global connections and growth for the heart of North America

El Paso, Texas

Patrick meeting with the Shanghai International Shipping Institute during his fellowship to China in 2018.

An economist specializing in international trade and leading a university-based research center, Patrick Schaefer (USA/Zhi-Xing ’18) forged a partnership with China’s premier government think tank, the Shanghai International Shipping Institute. Patrick’s center — the Hunt Institute for Global Competitiveness at the University of Texas, El Paso — produced research for the Shipping Institute that put the bi-national Paso del Norte region (which includes Texas, New Mexico and northern regions in Mexico) on the map as a major influential trade hub that is significantly impacted by recent trade wars between China and the U.S. The data will be used by local, state and federal decision-makers who are at the helm of opening opportunities that will strengthen economic growth in the U.S. and China.

Every morning, Patrick watches the shipping containers from Chinese and other Asian companies pass by his office window on the Union Pacific rail lines. With nearly 48% of all import products arriving at the Los Angeles port coming from China, this lion’s share of goods eventually makes its way into the rest of North America by passing through the Paso del Norte region. This hub represents connection points between the U.S. and Mexico and between the east and west coasts of the U.S., and has historically been a point of convergence for many people of different backgrounds, continuing through today’s times. A border town of recent U.S. news spotlight, El Paso in particular prides itself on being a city where two different cultures, languages and ways of life can live in easeful confluence.

Maritime trade routes between Asia and the U.S.

How do these cultural lessons influence international trade agreements and relationships?

With cultural knowledge and awareness of how to effectively and respectfully approach a foreign government, Patrick came prepared to hit the ground running in China. Before arriving in China, his center produced a report that analyzed U.S.-China maritime trade flows, and had it translated into Chinese. With the Chinese version of the report in hand, Patrick successfully convinced the Shanghai International Shipping Institute to consider a partnership or agreement with his center. The result was the commissioning of a follow-up report that shows the specific effects of recent U.S.-China trade policies and tariffs.

This relationship with China brings a new dimension to his work at the university that goes beyond bi-nationalism. Patrick has not only exposed China to the importance of the Paso Del Norte region, but he has brought China to El Paso, including to the students that he works with at the university, lawmakers and government administrators. The ultimate goal is to use data to “break away from isolation” and help “distant parties to learn about each other,” according to Patrick.

Patrick piloting a vessel simulator into the Port of Hong Kong at the Shanghai Maritime University
Patrick with his China-based Program Coordinator, Li Dong

Learn more about the importance of the Paso del Norte region here through Patrick’s TED talk.

Watch Patrick in action with counterparts in Beijing and Shanghai while on his #EFjourney.

Change & Innovation, Prosperity

Financier invests for environmental and social good

San Francisco, California

Ted Levinson (USA ’14) visits an organic egg farm in Thailand, a prospective borrower.

Ted Levinson (USA ’14) specializes in pairing values-driven financiers with socially responsible businesses in emerging markets.

On Fellowship in India and Indonesia he learned that access to capital was the biggest constraint on growth for sustainable-agriculture, alternative-energy and other renewable-resource companies that generally are too large for microfinance loans but too small for development-bank financing.

From his professional background at the intersection of philanthropy and investing, Ted also knew that family foundations and donor advised funds in the U.S. sit on almost $1 trillion dollars – an ideal pool of money to tap to support international social enterprises.

To bridge the gap he created Beneficial Returns, an impact investing fund that loans money for equipment purchases to enterprises advancing the quality of life by combating poverty in Latin America and Southeast Asia. Beneficial pools capital from U.S.-based family foundations and donor-advised funds to make loans in the amount of $50,000 to $500,000.

A team from Guayaki harvest its prime ingredient, yerba mate.

Since its founding in 2017, Beneficial has loaned $1.4 million to five companies, including Guayaki, a popular U.S.-based beverage company that sources its main ingredient – yerba mate – from the Atlantic Rainforest in South America. Yerba mate is one of the world’s six most commonly used stimulants (coffee, tea, kola, cocoa, and guarana, being the others), and claims many health benefits.

Through its market-driven restoration model, Guayaki provides a powerful economic incentive for its suppliers to preserve and restore the rainforest. The model has led to the creation of hundreds of jobs in Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. A loan from  Beneficial Returns helped outfit a new factory in Brazil.

Being exposed to new experiences on fellowship, said Ted, gave him the courage and international connections to quit a rewarding job at RSF Social Finance and launch Beneficial, where he works internationally and leads a small team.

By providing prospective borrowers, investors and collaborators, the Eisenhower Fellowship’s global network has been instrumental in advancing his work.

Sistema Bio produces biogas and fertilizer out of manure and farm waste.

Featured: Ted Levinson (left) and Edward Mungai (right) discuss their investments in a social enterprise in Kenya where Mungai is based.

Ted worked with Fellow Edward Mungai (Kenya ’16) to invest in a Mexican company that recently expanded into the Kenyan market with low-cost biodigesters that convert manure and farm waste into biogas and fertilizer. In Chile he partnered with Fellow Roberto Guerrero (Chile ’07) to extend Beneficial’s first loan in that country.

To learn more about Beneficial Returns, click here.

Kuda Chitsike
Change & Innovation, Justice

An activist who is breaking the glass ceiling in politics

Kuda Headshot

Kudakwashe Chitsike (Zimbabwe’15) is a women’s rights activist who is committed to changing the culture in Zimbabwe so that more women can run for political office.

Harare, Zimbabwe

In the midst of a global movement of women taking strides towards political leadership, Chitsike uncovered the barriers that prevent women from succeeding in her country. After her fellowship ended in the fall of 2015, Chitsike secured funding to research why women were reluctant to take on political leadership roles. Even though Zimbabwean women make up 52% of the population, government, political parties and decision-making bodies fail to engage and encourage women to participate in politics. Despite the Zimbabwean constitution’s clauses on gender equality and quotas in place, the number of women in the National Assembly has not dramatically increased.

Why is it so hard for women to enter into politics in Zimbabwe?

According to Chitsike, factors that stopped women from running for office include attitudes towards women in politics, lack of support from spouses and family, domestic responsibilities, the absence of the rule of law, and lack of resources for campaigning.  Chitsike discovered, however, that fear and violence, both real and perceived was the most significant barrier.

The real and perceived threat of violence emerged this year when four women ran for the office of the President of Zimbabwe, out of 23 candidates in total. Working with organizations like Women in Politics Support Unit, Women in Politics Incubator Zimbabwe and GenderLinks through the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe, Chitsike helped deliver programs to raise the number of female leaders in parliament and councils. These female candidates and organizations came up against a fierce battle with hate speech, slander, online bullying, body shaming, sexual harassment and threats of physical violence. According to Chitsike, government and other political parties did not do enough to condemn these acts of violence against women. The election results showed a disappointing 15% support for women candidates despite women constituting 52% of voters.

With the #metoo movement as a backdrop, new strategies were used to fight the backlash facing women running for political office. Some candidates used social media hashtags to reclaim words such as “prostitute” that were once used to wound and target them. Chitsike explains that “if you haven’t been called prostitute in your quest to promote and protect women’s rights, then you haven’t been doing a good job. If you embrace the term, it cannot be used to hurt you.”

In the future, Chitsike plans to continue to work behind the scenes to encourage and support women to run for office. Chitsike’s counsel to those who stand with her for women’s rights is this: “The fight against a patriarchal and misogynistic society is not for the fainthearted. Women’s rights activists and women in leadership in any sphere must be prepared for the long haul as changes are not going to happen overnight. Although ground was lost in the July election, there are lessons to be learned that can bring about the desired result, increased women’s political participation. These lessons should include supporting the few women that did make it into parliament in whatever way possible. Challenges will continue along the way but anything worth fighting for doesn’t come easy.”

Listen here for Chitsike’s words of wisdom.