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Kate Schecter: President and CEO of World Neighbors

World Neighbors creates lasting change in rural communities around the world. Their programs address education, poverty, health, agriculture, and more. World Neighbors integrates themselves into communities to create individualized solutions to the issues at hand. Learn more about World Neighbors here!

Can you tell me about your key areas of work?

We’re not a one sector organization. We look at agriculture, health care, water quality, women’s health— any area that needs to be addressed in a given community. We help communities think about their most urgent needs, and then we stay with them for 8-10 years. Change happens slowly, and we need to teach new skills and support them until they are ready to stand on their own. Many of our communities form small savings and credit groups where people pool their money and loan to each other at very low interest rates. We also increase income through diversity of training, which allows women to have a stronger voice.

Where do you work, and how do you select those locations?

We only work in rural communities. In total, we’ve worked in 45 countries, and right now we are in 14. We estimated that we’ve helped at least 28 million people since our founding. In Africa, we are in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Mali, and Burkina Faso. In Asia we are in India, Nepal, Indonesia, and East Timor. We’re also in Haiti, Guatemala, Bolivia, and Peru. Our staff travels on a quarterly basis to work in communities and we have offices around the world. We have thousands of social mobilizers— people who live in the communities and speak the native language, organize training programs, monitor progress, and report back on the impact that we’re having.

Do you have any success stories about how your work has impacted communities?

It’s always a success story when a community decides they are confident enough in their abilities that they don’t need our help anymore. The first trip I did with World Neighbors was in 2014 to Nepal. I met with a group of people who had graduated from World Neighbors and went on to become consultants, build a farmers cooperative, start a community clinic, and build a community banking system. They transformed their community into a social enterprise that included so many different elements. We work with women around the world who start taking classes about reproductive health and it changes their lives— they eventually join a savings and credit group and can become leaders with thriving businesses.

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part is traveling to meet people. For me, going to these rural communities and having a chance to talk to people and learn about how we can best help them is incredible. I learn how to improve our methodology and more about what they need from us. Learning is the basis of everything, we can all benefit from understanding the world a little better. I’ve learned so much about how to be a global citizen by engaging with what is happening in the world.

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