GCC Alumna Spotlight: Amelia Phillips

We can see her, but we can’t hear her. She smiles and waves. Then she’s gone—bad connection. Skype starts to ring again. “Hi I’m so sorry! My wifi just stopped working for a few minutes.” Amelia Phillips is chatting with us from her apartment in Nairobi, Kenya.

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Phillips (right) at the GCC Summit in 2012.

Phillips was a part of the Global Concern’s Classroom program when she attended Bronxville High School in New York, from which she graduated in 2013. Since then, she has attended and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley (in just three years) and now lives in Nairobi, Kenya where she has co-founded a non-profit organization.

“I had been working for another non-profit during my summers and breaks for a couple years building schools in Kibera,” describes Phillips, “and after speaking to a local member of the community I realized that most services were not being met by the government and public service…and the answer could [lie in] social entrepreneurship.”

Kibera is said to be home to around 1/5 of Nairobi’s population yet is not recognized by the government as a part of the city. Concern Worldwide has been present in Kibera since 2002, advocating for the Kenyan government to recognize and support schools in Kibera. Without education and other social services provided by the government, the residents in Kibera live mostly in extreme poverty.

Amelia noticed that there were many entrepreneurs in Kibera with solutions for the lack in public services; they just needed investments to kick-start their business ideas. That revelation led to the creation of the Somo Project. “The Somo Project provides capital, mentorship, and sponsorship to these entrepreneurs to start their businesses,” Phillips explains, “We are currently investing in 6 entrepreneurs who have all seen profit in their businesses within the first six months.”

The Somo Project, co-founded by Phillips, took off while she was still attending Berkeley, presenting many challenges. “The time difference and limited wifi [in Nairobi] definitely made it difficult,” which ultimately led to Phillips’s decision to move to Nairobi as soon as she received her degree.

“Our current goals are to continue to expand and build our network of volunteers, professionals, and entrepreneurs as well as grow employment in the businesses we sponsor. We hope to work in all informal settlements in Nairobi and build a model that can be applicable anywhere in world.”

When asked if GCC influenced her at all, Phillips laughed, “Strange enough at the summit, I w13942284_10209825649175202_969496678_norked on a country plan for Kenya…that was right before my first visit [to Kenya]. Now I live here!”

To learn more about the Somo Project check out their website here.

Are you a GCC alumnus? Interested in connecting with other alumni like Amelia? You may be interested in Concern’s new Young Professionals Network or Concern Leadership Team. Email [email protected] to learn more!    

 

 

Katie Talley is a summer intern at Concern Worldwide U.S.