After two decades in corporate marketing, Ruth-Anne Renaud ’86 (right) changed directions. She wanted to do something meaningful with her life and the experience she had gained.
Her search led to Opportunity International, an organization that provides micro-finance services in more than 20 developing nations around the world to empower people to “work their way out of chronic poverty, transforming their lives, their children’s futures, and their communities.” As vice president of women’s philanthropy, she co-leads the marketing team.
On a trip to Africa to visit with clients, Renaud met with Rose (left), who used her loan to open a shop in Bonwire, Ghana, that makes and sells tablecloths and other items made from kente cloth, a brightly colored, hand-woven fabric native to that country.
Opportunity International also helped Rose assemble a Trust Group, entrepreneurs who guarantee each other’s loans and support each other. After she succeeded, Rose helped form 10 more Trust Groups. “Rose hasn’t just changed her own life, she has changed the lives of many other people in that village through her example,” Renaud says.
Renaud also tells the story of Maria, who founded a school in Kampala, Uganda. She raises chickens and grows produce for the school and for a small catering business she operates on the weekends.
“Not one of those businesses is doing so well that it lifts Maria to a life of comfort, but the combination enables her to avoid the instability and the unpredictability of life,” Renaud says. “Spending time with Maria reminded me how incredibly capable and competent, smart, and savvy these women are.”
Renaud, a government and law graduate, traces her career journey back to a pivotal moment at Lafayette, when she was encouraged to pursue an internship. She worked for Jane Allred, who started her own consulting firm and moved to Scottsdale, Ariz. “I took the leap and moved across the country. I learned about international business clients, running a start-up business, and personal accountability…Lafayette prepared me to see the world on a small, intimate scale, and ultimately the impact that we can have on a global scale.”