WHO IS MALINI PATEL?
Malini Patel is the Senior Director for Middle East and North Africa and Acting Senior Director for Economic Empowerment at Vital Voices Global Partnership. She is responsible for vision and leadership; day-to-day program and financial management; program design, quality and integrity; new business development; and internal and external relations.
With 20 years of international development experience, Ms. Patel has led teams globally in Europe, the Caucasus, Africa, Middle East, Latin America and the Pacific and has overseen technical programs in SME/MAGE growth, community development, democracy and governance, advocacy, local and regional economic development, micro-finance and organizational development globally.
Prior to joining Vital Voices, Ms. Patel worked at numerous non-profit, for-profit, educational, and government entities including CHF International (Global Communities) and Peace Corps. Ms. Patel received her Bachelor of Arts from University of Michigan and Masters in Public Administration from New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
You can connect with Malini here:
IN TOR 023 YOU’LL LEARN ABOUT:
- The work Vital Voices and Malini has done to empower women in Africa, especially in their economic conditions, through VV’s dual role of project implementer and subject advocate.
- The origins of social capitalism as a movement, including businesses and investment funds, as witnessed by Malini, and how she quickly harnessed it to help women.
- Her views on nonprofit management, also a relatively recent and continuously evolving subject; including professionalization, search for excellence and the role of new technologies, particularly data collection and management.
- VV’s particular approach to project implementation, their unique level of partnership dependance, Malini’s account of failures, nightmares, successes and competitiveness.
OUR CONVERSATION INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:
- Vital Voices
- Hillary Clinton and the US State Department
- Peace Corps
- Wharton Business School
- Women’s issues
- Women leadership
- Human rights
- Business, economics and women
- Social enterprises and social investment funds
- Nonprofit management
- Data collection and management
- Local partnerships
- Security concerns
- Washington. DC
- North Africa
EPISODE CRIB NOTES
Vital Voices, including Malini’s
Focuses on female leaders. Spin-off from the State Department after Conference on Women.
Economic empowerment and entrepreneurship, political and public life, human rights.
Reports show progress in many development areas but the aforementioned.
No regional offices, just DC. Highly partner-based jobs, local leadership. All about avoiding duplicate work.
Malini works on Africa, and economic development issues at a personal level.
Measuring progress or lack thereof
For each of the three topics, VV has developed an impact framework.
Track aspects of the programs such as leadership development, networking for women.
Association of business leaders, as an answer to closing in on women’s economic gaps.
There has been progress large recognition, people are talking, research is being done.
VV does not do research but helps in enabling and advocacy, “making sure the data is there.“
Worked in international development for years. Found VV’s focus on women and economics, and their view on how every actor has a role to play in the situations.
VV recruited her, approached her. “Somebody recommended somebody who recommended me.” The model intrigued her.
Undecided at college. Immigrant family. Found out about Peace Corps, worked in Zambia, it opened her eyes. First Peace Corps mission in that region of the country.
Social entrepreneurship was just starting. Social investment funds, social enterprises.
From Peace Corps enrolled in a Master of International Management program at Wharton. There was interest in looking into nonprofit management.
New ways to look at nonprofit management
“People weren’t really talking about management of nonprofits, or sustainable business models.” Education offers were also just developing.
Small conversations were rising about models, adaptability, excellence, private sector partnerships.
VV is small in stuff and budget. Startup challenges. Systems are vital for delivery.
“It is always a process of adjustment and refinement. However, there are major system development milestones.“
Data collection and management is blowing up, VV has moved quickly into the area. This has helped in VV’s role as advocate on what they think is important, and can move quickly through their partners to communicate and also learn.
Typical project involves
VV works to ensure programs are ongoing. Their portfolio includes interventions, they make efforts to keep them relevant and funded. VV looks at projects that are going irrespective of donors’ commitments. They keep outlining the landscape and bringing people and organizations into the issues and intervention.
Work always rely on local expertise. A large multinational survey project involves reaching out to partners in each country.
Implementer and advocate
Ecosystem mapping requires both.
Advocating is more about giving voice to women, organizing their message, promoting one-on-one conversations
Malini lives on the field, less than before though, with a phone in her ear. “It’s adequate.” High dependence on her team members
Despite the larger role and responsibilities, she still talks to women daily. “I feel engaged.“
Keeping track with security, lack of regional offices does not help in that particular regard.
Local organizations find roadblocks that VV could help with if they were notified in a timely matter.
North Africa is a particularly troubling place for women leaders to engage, with even cases of violence against them and laws that would undo women’s progress.
Donors could make better investment, local women-led organizations could benefit from direct help. It would also help them have longer, enduring commitments for regions and subjects.
15% of her time goes to fundraising. “It is very important, but ensuring players are collaborative efficiently is vital.“
Feeling she’s not making movement terrifies her.
“It has expanded rapidly.” Women’s organizations across Africa are proliferating. VV tries to stay in conversation, so each one knows what the other is doing, avoid duplication.
“International development is its own worst enemy“. “It’s a little haphazard“. Staying on top of the dynamics, players and changes is challenging.
VV uses Salesforce. “Still trying how to use it right across the organization, integrate.” Other management tools based on MS Office. Some people have received project management training. VV needs specific tools.
Hillary Clinton is a VV founding member. “She did a lot of work as Secretary of State to bring women’s issues to the table.“
Passion and commitment is critical.
“We’re all part of the problem and we’re all part of the solution.“
Be humble and understanding.
Work hard. “If there were easy answers, there would be.“
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