I was raised to speak truth to power.
In fourth grade, I walked my first picket line. By eleventh grade, I had learned to filibuster government class until Mr. Michalski would agree to discuss international human trafficking. It was like a stage play: I had my role down, but the stakes were low.
Then I met Johiron.
Johiron was emaciated, living in a shelter of palm leaves in Bangladesh and surviving by begging for rice. I shadowed her as an intern for Grameen Bank'sbeggar lending program, and she shared how she'd used a micro-loan to buy a goat, which turned out to be barren. This investment flop actually forced her toeat one day less each week, so that she could save to repay her loan. I told Grameen they needed to add business training to their beggar lending program, or else they weren't fulfilling their mission. They did. For the first time, I realized that having been raised to speak truth to power was a gift, and that it could have important consequences.
I am committed to helping people build businesses in challenging economic and political landscapes. As I do so, I'll keep in mind a few guiding principles: Be curious. Listen. Understand that actions have consequences, intended and otherwise. And, never forget the power of being willing to take a stand and speak a simple truth.