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What are you up to nowadays?
I’m currently serving as a Small Business Advisor for the US Peace Corps in Ngaoundere, Cameroon. The Peace Corps is an independent U.S. government agency that places volunteers in developing countries in various sectors across business, education, health, agriculture, environment, and community development. Peace Corps Volunteers serve for 27 months (two years of service after three months of technical, cultural, and language training) living at a level next to those they are serving. Each Volunteer is placed with a partner organization and can branch out to various other projects in the community. I will be finished with my contract in July 2012.
There are currently two core competencies for my Community Economic Development division: 1) Enhance opportunities for income generation and 2) Build local capacity for economic growth.
My partner organization is MC2, a microfinance organization found throughout Cameroon. I serve as a consultant on various projects including strategic community outreach, benchmarking the loan review process, and training staff in IT. I also manage and organize micro-credit cooperatives in the VSLA model; when individuals are too illiterate or marginalized for a traditional microfinance institution, the cooperative provides access to credit, a mechanism for saving, and an opportunity for low-risk investment. As youth under twenty-five years old make up 60% of Cameroon’s population, I work with A2Empowerment to provide scholarships and income-generative activities for teenage girls who have dropped out of school. My last weeks will be spent overseeing the final logistics to organize a market for a community of 8,000 people.
That being said, every Peace Corps position, even within the same division, is different. This is because the needs of each community and each Volunteer are different.