Kathleen Berroth '02 Earned Entry to Competitive Leadership Training Program

July 23, 2013

Kathleen Berroth ’02 has won a prestigious Acumen Global Fellowship, a year-long leadership training program in microfinance and impact investment. She competed with more than a thousand applicants seeking one of 10 fellowships.

According to its website, the Acumen Fund seeks to “change the way the world tackles poverty and build a world based on dignity.” The Global Fellowship program became part of Acumen’s activities in 2007 to provide the next generation of leaders with intensive training and international experience.

For Berroth, this represents an opportunity to explore ideas and practices she found as an undergraduate. “I have been interested in nontraditional forms of development since Wellesley, when I was first introduced to the concept of microfinance,” said the former Japanese major. “The Wellesley experience was certainly responsible for the introduction to these new and interesting concepts, to big ideas and broad horizons. I was able to have myriad internships and volunteer experiences, some of which brought me overseas, and had access to professors with a keen interest in not only teaching, but opening their doors after hours to have informal chats about a wide variety of topics. Wellesley was challenging and expanding in the most excellent way possible and I frequently feel reverberations of that experience in my life.”

When she graduated, Berroth won a Wellesley-Yenching Fellowship and moved to Hong Kong to teach English for two years. “After a series of fits and starts, and a near miss with law school, I attended the NYU Stern School of Business for my M.B.A.,” she said. “In 2008, I graduated into the unlucky last class of Lehman Brothers (the firm went bankrupt my first day of work!), but that misfortune ended well for me as I ended up having a five-year career in investment banking with Barclays spanning New York and Asia.”

Berroth remained interested in the concept of social enterprise and impact investing and last year decided to try for the Acumen Fellowship. To her delight, she won. After two months of training in New York this September, she will move to Ghana for nine months and work with agricultural cooperative GADCO where she will help develop a profit-sharing method with smallholder farmers—and put the Wellesley motto (not to be served, but to serve) into practice.