Header Image

Brett Simmons

Fellow Image

I grew up in Columbus, Indiana before attending Xavier as part of the Class of 2009. At Xavier I majored in Economics and History and had minors in Theology and Gender and Diversity Studies. Throughout my time at Xavier, I was involved with studying international development as well as U.S. community economic development. I participated in the 2007 India Academic Service Learning Semester (ASLS) as well as the 2008 Urban ASLS in Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati. Those experiences, as well as my academic work, eventually led me to the Brueggeman Fellowship to study microfinance in East Africa. In 2008 I was also selected as a Harry S. Truman Scholar for the state of Indiana, a scholarship program for graduate studies that will lead to public service. After school I worked briefly at the World Bank Inspection Panel before moving to Chicago to work at Accion, a domestic microlender serving Illinois. In the fall of 2012 I will start a joint MBA and MARc (Master of Arts in Religion concentrated in Philosophy of Religion) at Yale University. 

Fellowship Experience

In the summer of 2008, I traveled to Tanzania to study the budding microlending industry there. I was fortunate to work with Akiba Commercial Bank in Dar es Salaam, the first Tanzanian microlender and Tanzanian owned. I went to group meetings throughout the city and was able to speak to borrowers and learn about the underwriting and risk management systems of the bank. I was also able to watch the first loans be disbursed from a new lending organization in a village near the town of Karatu in northern Tanzania.

Upon returning, I submitted a report to the Akiba on other microlending methods that might be relevant to their operations growth as well as completed several seminar papers on the topic for classes at Xavier. Eventually those papers resulted in an article published in the fall of 2008 in the Virginia Policy Review. Titled “The Panacea That Wasn’t: The Misuses of Microfinance,” the articled explored the vaulted promises of microfinance, and where, as has been further explored in recent years, microfinance falls well short of its claims and what it can actually accomplish. 

What They're Doing Now

Currently I am transitioning out of my position at Accion and getting ready for school. 

Contact Info

Email: brettasimmons@gmail.com

Upcoming Events