After an 8-hour flight from JFK with a brief stopover in Zurich, I finally arrived to beautiful Amsterdam on Saturday. The Amsterdam Schiphol airport was only a train away from Amstelveen, where I subletted a room in a student dorm for the summer. The girl I rented the room from could not be more kind, as she picked me up from the train station, gave me a tour of the area, introduced me to the housemates, and eased me into life in Amstelveen. Over the next few days, I spent my day working and exploring the city and the evenings talking with the housemates, who were all very eager to teach me about Dutch culture.
On Monday, I stepped into the office of Child and Youth Finance International for the first time. The first day was a day of learning- learning names, faces, and most importantly the organization’s mission and goals. Child and Youth Finance International was founded in 2010 with the dream of providing financial access and education to 100 million children in 100 countries by 2015. The vision is to create a multilateral and multi-stakeholder collaboration that not only delivers affordable financial products but also creates true systems change or a global movement. Jeroo Billimoria, my mentor and the organization’s founder had built several successful organizations upon the concept of systems change. For example, Aflatoun, an organization formed to empower youth through financial education, has already created a network reaching 1 million children in 75 countries. ChildFinance, Jeroo’s youngest enterprise, aims to expand upon the movement by creating certified ChildFriendly products and a global platform where governments and educators can oversee and support the growth of financial education.
The organization’s day-to-day work revolves around inviting various government agencies, corporations, and academic leaders, to support our cause. This week, Jay and I were given the task of writing the concept notes to the Netherland Agency Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ChildFinance is looking to capture a Public Private Partnership opportunity between the Ministry and various corporations such as Ernst and Young NL LLC, Deloitte, and WSBI. My job is to understand how each company can add value to our organization, whether it be contributing to the Young Entrepreneur Fund, or creating certification standards for safe banking products. Throughout the research process, I learned about the companies’ corporate social responsibility standards and how they fit into our mission. Finally, we have been writing and revising a report based upon the feedback of the rest of the team as well as news from our potential partners.
Friday afternoon, Jay and I were given the task of writing the concept note for a newly conceived project- the Youth Entrepreneur Investment Fund. We discussed with Jeroo the vision: she gave us a 10-minute rundown of the technicalities, such as how we will invest in a start-up and become a shareholder, how we will select the businesses and partnerships, etc. Jay and I were responsible for researching statistics on small and medium businesses’ potential for grown, and their market impact through employment. This laid groundwork upon which we made a case about our project. We pulled our first all-nighter Friday night to finish the proposal by noon on Saturday.
More on the ChildFinance team- I wanted an international experience this summer and the work culture of Child and Youth Finance International is exactly that. The other team members are from all sorts of cultures and backgrounds, France, Spain, Latin America, and Asia. The diversity is necessary to match the language and cultural needs of our global partners. The team is also very welcoming and friendly. We are encouraged to get to know each other over communal lunch on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. As of yesterday afternoon, we now have a ChildFinance Euro-Cup football tournament.