My chat with Vicki was transformational for me. I was inspired to find new ways to contribute to the dreams of others and evolve my own vision. I know you too will be stirred and can't wait to hear your dreams and ideas to encourage more women to pursue their dreams.
The statistics often feel overwhelming especially when it's something as immense as ending global poverty and creating gender equality. But this is where we start; we start with one person, in one community -- and we're changing the world.
Knowing what it feels like to be really poor and not fit in drives me to try and help other people. I'm not arrogant enough to think that I know everything women in the developing world are dealing with, but some of the psychological things we go through are exactly the same.
If feeding a continent were a simple equation, no one in Africa would go hungry. Its landmass exceeds that of China, Western Europe, India, Argentina and the continental U.S. combined, with enough arable land to feed 2.5 billion people.
There's no doubt that the global problem of poverty and its solutions are complex, which is why the microfinance industry needs to approach them with eyes wide open and insist on transparency and results.
Martha Holguin, a 37-year-old microfinance recipient, is standing on her own feet, but she still has a long way to go. "You'll come back to see me as a businesswoman?" she asks. I take a deep breath to hold back my tears.