Suzanne Smith’s career in development has spanned nearly 30 years from Niger to Mozambique, and from Bangladesh to Afghanistan.
At the age of 24, she joined the Peace Corps in Niger to design and deliver nutrition and immunization education for village women and children. By the late 1990’s, poverty alleviation became her top priority, when she headed for Bangladesh to begin consulting to micro credit organizations, including PLAN International, the South Asian Network of Micro Finance Initiatives and NORAD on the effectiveness of their methodologies, key performance indicators and responsiveness of clients. Suzanne also monitored the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) Flood Rehabilitation Project, through the European Community’s Humanitarian Organization (ECHO).
For the next decade, Suzanne focused her attention on Sub-Saharan Africa, beginning with Save the Children’s micro credit program. She led the rapid growth of the team dedicated to designing policies for a credit program that would assist HIV-affected families in managing their loans in Mozambique.
The next phase of her career focused on HIV/AIDS and other health-related training, and curriculum design for organizations based in Mozambique including the US Peace Corps, Health Alliance International, International Relief & Development and the Academy for Education Development. This period in her life really opened her eyes to the critical need for quality education at the grassroots level. She and her colleague spent over 4 years piloting a simple accounting course for community based organizations, including a monitoring system to evaluate their progress over time. The result was the creation of a simple accounting system, one that is sustainable, transparent and accessible.
Before returning to the US where she would eventually turn Accountable Partners© into a going concern, Suzanne moved to Afghanistan. There she put in place gender-based training and development projects first in Kandahar and then in Kabul. She co-developed curricula and learning materials, built the skills of teachers and piloted a program for high-school girls that would eventually be mainstreamed as an elective available in high schools through the Afghan Ministry of Education.
Today, Suzanne’s dream is to take the Accountable Partners© methodology and mainstream it throughout the developing world. With one simplified accounting system for all small grassroots partners, donors and partners will be able to build the trust necessary to scale up program activities, and create the lasting impact needed to solve the world’s most pressing problems.