We are thrilled to introduce you to the latest addition to our ever-growing team, Imke Straaten. Imke is taking on the role of Program Manager for Africa, and her base of operations will be in Uganda. With a rich background in International Development and a wealth of experience working and living in Eastern Africa, Imke is set to make a significant impact on managing our projects across the African continent.
Imke’s journey toward a career in International Development began in India when she was only seventeen years old: By participating in a student exchange Program called “Global Exploration” she was first exposed to the disparities of our world. During this transformative experience, she witnessed the effects of the caste system: The glaring inequality between outcasted leprosy patients and the exclusive international school students stirred a passion within Imke to work towards a more just world.
Determined to make a difference, Imke pursued her education in International Development at the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands. For her master’s degree, she went off to Kenya, where she conducted research on the meaning of ‘sustainability’ in the informal economy of Kibera Slum in Nairobi. Her focus was on finding whether microcredits and Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) could stimulate simultaneously ecological and economic development, a critical issue in many developing nations.
In 2015, Imke started her professional career as an intern at the Dutch-based organization Wilde Ganzen. This experience eventually led her to the role of Project Advisor, where she managed over 100 partnerships with community-based organizations (CBOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and various community-based development initiatives, including self-help groups and cooperatives. Her work centered on the co-funding of small-scale development projects and the organizational development of these partner organizations to sustainably address poverty, considering strategic sessions on community participation, legal compliance and local fundraising strategies to become less dependent on foreign aid. On behalf of Wilde Ganzen, Imke participated in the Young Expert Program, which enabled her to work and live in Uganda for one year. Together with the partner organization she then gave substance to the Agricultural and Food Security policy of Wilde Ganzen.
Her dedication and expertise caught our attention at Progreso, making her the perfect fit for our team.