In her native Argentina, Laura Giadorou-Koch was one of a few high school students who volunteered for HELP, an organization that tends disabled children in orphanages. Early on she started yearning for a country with more “opportunities.”
She came closer to her dream when, after graduating from law school in Buenos Aires, she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study law in the U.S.
Now, after working in Wall Street for many years, Giadorou-Koch feels that now is the time to give back, and not only with donations but also with encouragement and dedication.
She found her true cause and passion in a microfinance organization that gives small loans to female entrepreneurs, being that it represents all that she believes in: hope, opportunity and empowerment.
Five years ago, she was invited by Diana Taylor, chair of ACCION to be part of the organization.
She said she was inspired by Taylor’s words: “When you meet our client, all of those perceptions about poverty completely dissipate because you meet people that have such intelligence and initiative, have learned to cope with very difficult circumstances, particularly women. What women want is the same everywhere, they want to be able to feed and shelter their family.”
Laura became involved by donating and by volunteering at fundraising events at her Park Avenue apartment.
One of her favorite cases is Ana Lucia, a woman she met in Brazil who used to spend half a day walking to the market to buy material to make dresses that she would try to sell that same day. A mother of four, if she didn’t sell dresses that day her children would go hungry.
Accion gave Ana Lucia a $300 loan, which changed her life. A year later, she opened her own store.
“Ana Lucia knows she was given a lifetime opportunity. She now goes once a week to the market and is able to feed her family,” Giadorou-Koch said.
In 2011, Laura co-founded Accion’s VIA program (Volunteers in Action). She also offers microfinance seminars as an after-school program at high schools.
She said her life mission encompasses three goals – spreading philanthropy ideals to Latin America, engaging more Latino women philanthropists in the U.S. and passing on her message through educational seminars for future generations.