How This Experienced Professional Used Her Financial Skills to Help Promote Microfinance in Uganda

Petra Barbu

Petra is a content marketer passionate about social enterprise, impact investing, and microfinance.

Sharon is an accomplished leader with over 30 years of experience in financial services and a strong drive to give back to the global community. Working with MovingWorlds, she partnered with the Ndibwami Integrated Rescue Project (NIRP), a development organisation providing support and care to people living with HIV and AIDS. NIRP makes an impact by setting up local projects in rural communities of Uganda. Its life-saving work prevents infection, while also restoring hope and improving the quality of life of those affected by HIV and AIDS. Sharon used her time Experteering to support one of NIRPs strategic initiatives, which is the economic development of a local women’s group. Together, they worked make these business self-sustainable and empower women through microfinance.

Sharon in a team meeting.
Sharon in a team meeting.

What inspired you to “take the leap” and go Experteering?

Mid-life crisis! After 30 years of working in financial services, I wanted to give something back and challenge myself, so I decided to take a year out and volunteer my skills internationally.

What were you doing before going Experteering?

I have experience in everything from accounting, commercial real estate, and investment banking. I was a was a partner in a private equity firm, and volunteered in my spare time, but I knew I wanted to give back in a more committed way.

Sharon with one of the women in her microfinance program.
Sharon with one of the women in her microfinance program.

What did you do on your Experteering trip?

I worked as a microcredit and community development officer, working with NIRP in Uganda to promote economic development and women’s empowerment. One of my projects involved working with fruit farmers to enhance their value chain for better harvests. We worked alongside local women’s groups in strategic business development and management.

What was the highlight of your Experteering trip?

There are too many to name, but seeing the women in the community grow with confidence after the business education was a particular highlight.

Sharon making connections in the community.
Sharon making connections in the community.

What was one thing you wish you knew before you went volunteering overseas?

I wish I knew the local language in Uganda, which is Luganda. Although English is the official language it is not spoken in the remote areas, and would have been helpful throughout my Experteering trip to connect more with locals.

[Editor’s Notes: When you work through the MovingWorlds planning process, you’ll have the chance to talk to your local organization about customs and languages you can pick-up in advance. You can check out the region guide to learn more about the area you will be visiting as well.]

A local woman hard at work making a living for her family.
A local woman hard at work making a living for her family.

What advice do you have for people thinking about Experteering?

Go for it. You will not regret it. You can not save everyone or change the world, but everything you do will be well received and will have an impact on the beneficiaries and the NGO.

Join Sharon in making an impact by volunteering your financial skills, supporting economic development and global health, and by signing up for a membership with MovingWorlds.