A. The professional attributes that you plan to use, and what aspirations you hope to fulfill, during your Peace Corps service
These past few months I have been learning about microfinance and the hardships many impoverished people face on a daily basis. My hope is to work with small business owners and give them advice on how to operate more efficiently or perhaps provide better ways of tracking sales/inventory. In addition I would like to advise people who would like to start new businesses by assisting them with their business models and helping them negotiations. If time allows I would like to work with an existing microfinance institution or set up a microfinance institution such that these small business owners have a place to go to obtain credit for their businesses thereby increasing their chances of success.
I want to help these people help themselves so that when I do leave hopefully I will have equipped these businessmen and women with the tools necessary to continue growing.
B. Your strategies for working effectively with host country partners to meet expressed needs
First, I would like to just get to know the people and understand the culture. After having time to assimilate myself into the culture I will start identifying those who have or would like to start small businesses. I will ask them about their respective businesses and see if I could provide advice in how to run their businesses more efficiently or effectively.
Overall I would like to help people on an individual basis while at the same time working with officials to improve the market so that progress is achievable and sustainable. I firmly believe a strong market coupled with education is the key to producing sustainable growth. Therefore I will also try to set aside some time so that I would be able to teach local businessmen about basic business principles. It is through these sessions that I will be able to convey the importance of education so hopefully the next generation may reap the benefits.
C. Your strategies for adapting to a new culture with respect to your own cultural background
I plan on eating everything given to me, meeting and speaking with everyone I possibly can, and hopefully play some games with whoever’s willing as well. I love America but that’s not to say we all can’t all learn a thing or two from each other’s cultures.
D. The skills and knowledge you hope to gain during pre-service training to best serve your future community and project
I hope to learn more about how businesses are run at the local level. Through this training I hope to put together a curriculum which I will hopefully be able to teach to local businessmen who are willing to learn. I do not wish to teach them general business principles that may apply in America but would be useless in Mali. Ultimately I want to help create an environment that would be competitive and benefit the customers while promoting business growth.
E. How you think Peace Corps service will influence your personal and professional aspirations after your service ends
After having spoken to several returned volunteers it has led them towards different paths. However, the one common bond among them I have seen is a desire to continue to help others. So, whatever I do after my time with The Peace Corps I hope to continue to make a positive impact on the lives of those around me.
There are many things I will see at the small enterprise level in Africa that I would normally not be able to see if I were to just continue my career in America. Hopefully I will be able to leverage these experiences into a career placement that will be just as challenging.