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Caitlin Ferguson’s Work to Promote Sustainable Development in India

By Olivia Allen 

Caitlin Ferguson, a 2013 Northeastern University graduate is returning to India for the third time to start The William J. Clinton Fellow for Service in India with the American India Foundation. The ten-month fellowship places young professionals in organizations working to catalyze sustainable development in India within the following sectors: advocacy, education, human rights, social enterprise, public health, livelihood, and youth development.

Ferguson has been placed at Waste Ventures, a social enterprise in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. The company operates profitable waste management projects through an innovative collection and processing model. It provides low-income individuals with gainful employment and a foray into the formal sector. Waste Ventures also leverages partnerships with local municipalities to run a carbon credit system that secures additional income for low-income workers and also has a positive environmental impact. Ferguson’s primary role at Waste Ventures will be developing metrics for Waste Ventures to measure their social impact.

During her time at Northeastern, Ferguson studied Communications, Rhetoric, and Public Advocacy with minors in International Affairs and Social Entrepreneurship and developed a specialized interest in India through both her second co-op experience and an intensive Hindi immersion program. 

In addition to her previous professional experiences in India, Ferguson is confident that her field experiences with the Social Enterprise Institute have provided her with a solid framework for evaluating social enterprises. “My experiences with SEI have also prepared me in a number of ways from increasing my knowledge of social enterprise and providing different models to look at international development to on-the-ground experiences in South Africa and Nicaragua,” said Ferguson.

The William J. Clinton Fellow for Service in India and her particular role at Waste Ventures is a slight departure from Ferguson’s past experiences, which focused on nonprofits in India as well as language immersion. During her second co-op in 2010, Ferguson first worked at the Deshpande Foundation in Hubli, Karnataka . She later returned to India in the summer of 2012 to intensively study Hindi for three months in Jaipur, Rajasthan — a program sponsored by the U.S.  Department of State.

In the long-term, Ferguson hopes to work in international development and is assured that her fellowship with the William J. Clinton Fellowship for Service in India with the American India Foundation will significantly build upon her past field experience. “My primary goal for this fellowship was, quite broadly, to get more on-the-ground international development experience, which I find imperative to working in the sector. I’m also certain that I will learn more about India, study Hindi and broaden my skill set.”