Mary Vail, '13 MBA, recently completed a nine-month international goodwill assignment with Bankers Without Borders, a Grameen Foundation initiative that harnesses the skills and services of the world’s brightest minds and institutions to accelerate the progress of social entrepreneurs dedicated to connecting the poor to their potential. Vail's volunteer assignment was to work with EcoZoom, a social enterprise based in Kenya. EcoZoom manufactures and distributes improved cookstoves and portable solar lights; two products that are valuable in improving the lives of those who need them, as well as reducing
deforestation and carbon dioxide outputs. She was selected for the role of corporate marketer and storyteller to help the business expand globally more quickly by helping create and communicate a comprehensive understanding of progress and impact to investors, end-users, and the wider general public. She says the insight she acquired when she traveled to South Africa in 2013 as part of a cohort during her UNLV studies helped to prepared her for the assignment, specifically with regard to how cultural influence plays a strategic role in international business. During the research trip she visited organizations that benefit from EcoZoom’s cookstoves. There were two major tea plantations Unilever and Finlays (Kenya is the third top tea producer in the world) and Cherry Children’s Educational Centre, a non-profit school in Kibera, Kenya’s largest slum. Her husband, David, accompanied her and assisted with the project.