Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 08/28/2013

reichers_hs_250Christina Riechers, Class of 2012
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Evidence Action

Since finishing my dual MBA-MPA degree in International Development at MIT Sloan and the Harvard Kennedy School in 2012 — thanks in large part to the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellowship — I have been hard at work pursuing the goals that the Reynolds Fellowship inspired me to take on: building a new social enterprise to address poverty internationally with proven interventions!  There is a gap between what research shows is effective in development and what is implemented in practice. I set out to begin to fill this gap. Speakers who came during our fellowship sessions constantly challenged us to take on the daunting big problems. The problem that perplexed me most during my graduate school experience was why, in the face of emerging rigorous evidence, international development programs weren’t incorporating cost-effective interventions that had a proven impact. After graduation, I brought my new academic foundation — as well as past experiences building new ventures in East Africa and India, and time spent critically analyzing strategic opportunities as a Bain & Company consultant — to bear on this question. I joined Innovations for Poverty Action, a world leader in figuring out what works in the poverty alleviation realm through randomized controlled trials. I would help them spin out a new organization focused on implementing and scaling up the proven interventions. I am proud to announce the launch of our new organization, Evidence Action.

Starting with two programs — Dispensers for Safe Water and Deworm the World — which were tested and incubated at IPA and are already serving millions of people, Evidence Action takes proven development interventions to scale, and crafts resilient business models for long-run success. As we build the new organization with a focus on scaling impact, I think fondly on the opportunity the Reynolds Fellowship gave me to hone my skills through academic coursework at Harvard’s Kennedy School, and the exposure to peers and social entrepreneurs who will be an enduring source of inspiration for me on this journey, as we whittle away at the daunting big problems.

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