Andrea Herrera C’14 interned at PoverUP in Philadelphia, PA

2011-2012 Startup Internship Award winner, supported by the Wharton Entrepreneurship Advisory Board

The Summer of 2009, I was first introduced to microfinance after reading an article about Muhammad Yunus’ commencement speech as a guest speaker at Wharton’s commencement. His words and vision to create a world with equal opportunity in which individuals are given the financial and emotional support to lift themselves and their families out of poverty inspired me to get involved and participate in this movement. As a high school student,  there wasn’t much I could do, and I wanted not only to be a lender, but be a leader in microfinance and have a hands on experience. Once arriving to Penn, I hoped to find a venue in which I could get involved, and little would I know that only a few months later I would be a founding member of PoverUP.

I met Charlie Javice, the co-founder of PoverUP at an international Latin American student event, and became great friends with her from the start. Being modest, she never boasted about her successes and her start-up; I eventually found out and was in awe, and knew I had to get involved somehow. As an avid user of social media- facebook, twitter, tumblr, as well as my interest in marketing and PR, Charlie approached me in late January asking me if I would like to join the team and work as the Director of Communications and PR for PoverUP, exploring ways to get our platform out there and getting students and individuals around the world excited about our launch and what we have to offer. I accepted and was so excited to finally have the engagement in the microfinance world that I had dreamed of.

I immediately started working closely with Charlie, Celia and the rest of the team, coming together to bringing ideas to the table in order to grow PoverUP and solidify our goals for the next couple of months leading up to our launch. This is when Charlie told me to apply for the WEP internship fellowship for this summer, for we were looking into having the entire team (from campuses across the country) work together in our office space at the General Assembly, and this fellowship would make this opportunity a possibility. After finding out about my award from WEP, I was able to further plan adequately what my goals for the summer would be relative to my tasks and position within PoverUP as well in conjunction to the rest of the team. I joined the team in the beginning of August, and from the beginning there was no time to waste. As Director of Communications and PR, I was primarily concerned with reaching out to media outlets whose readers would be interested in our platform, as well as those who represent our target consumer- forward thinking, innovative, globally conscious, and most importantly- interested in creating a viable and concrete change in the world.  In addition, I worked on promotional materials, such as a typography video that we are still working on, as well as writing press releases, blog posts for 85Broads on blog, and many more.

One of my most important tasks over the summer was working on the website content. I worked very closely with both the tech and investment teams to create engaging, informative, and appealing content for our website that kept our consumer, our projects, and our vision in mind. This required understanding the basics of how the tech of our platform functions, as well as every detail of our platform, including a complete understanding of our financials, projects, relationships with different microfinance institutions, our networks, and the extensive range of opportunities that we provide for our future users.

Thanks to the support of WEP, I had one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, in which not only did I get a taste of what my coming summers will feel like, but also I learned a lot about what my passions and interests are. This not only will help me in my work for PoverUP, but also will help guide me in the years to come when I narrow down what I want to dedicate myself to. In addition to this, my experience allowed me to cultivate really fantastic relationships with not only my coworkers in the PoverUP team, but also the impressive entrepreneurs and professionals I met through the course of my internship. These people I met were true role models for me, giving me insight and advice about start-ups, life after college, and pursuing what you love, but also inspiring me to be innovative and never settle for less than what you can achieve. I am definitely looking forward to hopefully continue my experiences with WEP, and am once again so thankful for this incredible opportunity.