Michelle Berkowitz Sultan
- Program Year
- Country of Current Residence
- City/Town of Current Residence
- Guatemala City
- Current Position
- Consulting For Impact (C41)
Social Entrepreneur, Sustainable Agriculture Specialist
- Community, Education, Entrepreneurship (including social), Literacy, Sustainable development
- Spanish, English
- Interest(s) / Expertise
- environment, social entrepreneurship, sustainability
Michelle is committed to helping non-profit organizations and social enterprises in Latin America become more effective and efficient in creating lasting social and environmental change. She is passionate about agriculture, rural livelihoods, economic development, education, health and gender equality. Her hobbies include reading, music, permaculture, yoga, rock climbing, camping, bird watching, and brewing beer.
Born in Caracas, Venezuela and raised in Guatemala City, Guatemala it was impossible for Michelle to ignore the unending socioeconomic hardships endured by those most in need. Through her education and subsequent work in several Latin American countries, she has strived to effect positive change with respect to literacy, poverty alleviation, women’s entrepreneurship, and sustainable development.
From an early age, Michelle has known that she wanted to work to positively change the conditions that force the impoverished to struggle constantly to meet their most basic needs. Her personal and professional decisions have been inextricably linked to this commitment.
Michelle first focused on improving educational opportunities for marginalized people in developing nations, and participated in Guatemala’s National Literacy Campaign, teaching young indigenous adults to read and write. Later, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, she worked for the Ministry of Education. Before graduating from Tulane University in New Orleans, she assisted Professor Elizabeth Fussell in identifying root causes and consequences for Post-Katrina Latin immigration to that city, and subsequently became a teacher of English as a Second Language (ESL) for these same constituents.
Following graduation from Tulane in 2007 with a BA in Sociology and Latin American Studies and minors in Philosophy and Jewish Studies, Michelle returned to Guatemala where she worked under the direct tutelage of Ashoka Fellow, Greg Van Kirk at Community Enterprise Solutions (CES), a social entrepreneurship innovation incubator. Soon thereafter, she moved to Ecuador where, as Director of Research and Training of CES in Cuenca, she trained and managed groups of women entrepreneurs in four regions of the country. Simultaneously, she guided young entrepreneurs from prestigious American universities through the country under the CES sister program, Social Entrepreneur Corps.
In October 2009, Michelle returned to Guatemala as the leading consultant for the program “Opportunities for the Majority” of the Inter-American Development Bank. Just prior to becoming a Sauvé Scholar, as an intern at the Center for Sustainable Development, she gave workshops on sustainable development, managed website content, and translated all online course modules from English to Spanish.
Michelle pursued research in sustainable agricultural practices, social entrepreneurship, rural economic development, and land and water conservation technologies appropriate to Central America. She developped a program proposal focused on reducing crop vulnerability and stabilizing income-generating channels for impoverished small-scale farmers in her home country of Guatemala, with future applications for other developing nations.