Emily West is the Executive Director of the West Foundation and a member of TechnoServe’s Global Advisory Council.
She also serves on the boards of Hesperian Health Guides and the Hoosier Salon. Emily resides in Indiana, where she tends and photographs a sizable perennial garden.
How did you first become involved with TechnoServe?
Our foundation has been supporting TechnoServe since 1978. I remember being at my grandmother’s house when TechnoServe founder Ed Bullard came to visit to ask for our support. We’re still supporting TechnoServe 25 years later because it offers a unique and strategic approach, not just to developing livelihoods, but to developing whole industries.
What do you think are the greatest challenges facing people trying to lift themselves out of poverty?
The greatest challenge is the fact that there are many types of poverty apart from financial poverty – health, education, hope and spirit, to name but a few. And they do not exist in silos. In order to address any one in a sustainable way, you must address them all.
Have you seen TechnoServe’s work firsthand?
I traveled with TechnoServe to Tanzania in 2006 to visit a project our foundation was supporting to strengthen the tea industry. What really impressed me was the scope of TechnoServe’s work: training farmers and building coalitions at the grassroots level, supporting a local tea plantation at the enterprise level and advocating for better legislation at the national level to support the industry as a whole.