Prashant Swaminathan has been connected to WISER for nearly ten years. As a student at Duke University, he was able to visit WISER during its early stages of development and grew to love the organization’s work. Today, Prashant works on the investment team at a hedge fund based in New York City.
We sat down with Prashant to hear his thoughts on WISER and why he has chosen to champion the WISER girls for the past decade.
W: Prashant, you were in Kenya during WISER’s early years. What brought you there?
PS: I first met WISER’s co-founder, Sherryl Broverman, when I had her as a professor in a 2006 global infectious disease class at Duke. Every part of that class fascinated me, and there was a large focus at the time on the burden of disease in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2007, I had the opportunity conduct disease field research in Kenya at Egerton University where I examined the prevalence of schistosomiasis and malaria in school-aged children.
W: And that’s where you were when you were invited to WISER?
PS: That’s right – I got to visit the WISER campus and see the first programs ever run at WISER. There was no running water yet, no electricity, just enough investment and willpower to do work that could be life-changing.
W: What did you think of WISER at that time?
PS: Being in that environment and seeing how transformational WISER’s work was for girls and the community really impressed me. Plus, the huge benefits that come from educating girls cannot be ignored. The World Bank, for years, has said that investment in girls’ education generates the highest returns in the developing world. With my focus on finding smart investments, it only makes sense that I would be impressed with WISER, which has such substantial returns for every dollar it receives.
W: When you say “substantial returns,” what do you have in mind?
PS: The results that are produced via WISER are incredible and they have emerged so quickly from day one. It was almost as if a surgical strike had been executed on the problems facing girls in Muhuru Bay – the results just came so quickly. Those shocking results have just continued from WISER’s opening to now.
W: It has been amazing to see what the WISER girls have done over the years.
PS: Absolutely. Really, WISER is an organization that is always putting its feet to the fire, fighting to grow for a worthwhile cause. Sherryl and her team have internalized their mission and constantly seek to improve their own effort, growth, and understanding. They and the students are incredibly inspiring.
W: What would you say to someone that was considering supporting WISER?
PS: There’s a reason I’ll be a supporter of WISER for a long time – the numbers don’t lie. When you tell me that the WISER girls’ graduation rate is 100% and 90% of students attend college or university, that students are receiving government scholarships at three times the national average, and that WISER was the number 1 girls’ school out of 360 in Kenya’s 2016 National Science Congress – that’s indisputable, tangible impact. There are many large, noble causes in the world that deserve support – but I believe WISER is unique where a supporter can make a dramatic individual impact on a project that generates such powerful outcomes.
W: Do you have a wish for the WISER girls and staff?
PS: My hope is that all of these girls that are graduating from WISER find personal and professional satisfaction, and I hope they know that they can elevate Muhuru Bay with their success – they can return their strengths to the community at-large. I hope that while they are pursuing their own dreams, they find a way to remember their own ability to change the future for their communities and their families, and Muhuru Bay realizes the ROI of girls’ education.
We can help you build a supporter story of your own. If you’d like to learn more about how you can make an impact like Prashant has, please contact [email protected]