Graduate applies social entrepreneurship in Boston

Emily Turner took full advantage of international and experiential learning opportunities while studying International Affairs and Political Science at Northeastern. She did co-ops at the World Peace Foundation and the Harvard Kennedy School’s Program on Intrastate Conflict and studied abroad in Geneva and Brazil. With a concentration in social entrepreneurship, she also worked in micro-enterprise in northern Thailand and participated in SEI’s Field Study Program on micro-finance in the Dominican Republic.

Graduating in 2010, though, left her in a tight job market. Despite all that she had learned and studied at Northeastern, Turner found her best option to be an unpaid internship at the nonprofit social investment fund, Root Capital. Beginning operations in 1999, Root Capital is a pioneer in financing the “missing middle” of the developing world. Turner describes this missing middle as “small grassroots businesses that are too small and risky for large, mainstream banks and too large for traditional micro-finance.”

Recognizing the potential of this market to bolster the developing world’s economy, Root Capital lends to these businesses that have been “locked out the local banking system and have few alternatives for affordable credit.” Root Capital generally works with agricultural business and provides them financing for both short-term working capital loans and longer-term investments. They also work to establish partnerships with companies like Starbucks and Whole Foods, using future sales contracts as collateral.

Having learned about Root Capital’s work in Professor Shaughnessy’s Social Entrepreneurship class and the Dominican Republic Field Study, Turner was excited to work at a social enterprise in Boston contributing to international development. During her unpaid internship, her impressive work ethic was recognized. Six months later, she is working full-time among a very talented staff as a Business Development Assistant.

“I love my job because of all of the passionate people I work with. Everyone is very personally invested in the organization,” says Turner of Root Capital. Recently, she has been promoted to an Investor Relations Associate where she will work with financial strategies and communication with communities Root Capital is invested in.

Many interesting opportunities are available at innovative social enterprises worldwide, like Turner’s. A great way to become aware of them is through the newly approved Social Entrepreneurship concentration or minor. Check out our website for more details!

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