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Mark Soares

Role: Professional Junior Fellowship

Date: August – December 2010

Sector Team: Rural Agriculture – Ghana

Mark  obtained an undergraduate degree in Geography from the University of Guelph, and has spent time employed with the Ontario government in the agricultural sector, as well as various other consulting positions in the Guelph area.  However, it was after having traveled to Central America (2007) and South America (2009) that he was exposed to the face of rural poverty and the failures of development projects on the ground, and sought to take action. “ My experiences on these trips caused me to become more interested in understanding development and the ways in which one can help to combat extreme poverty.  These experiences taught me that our actions, whether direct or indirect, do have an impact on the lives of the poor many miles away.”

Upon returning to Canada, Mark wanted to find an avenue to contribute to making a positive difference with an organization that considered a bottom up, grassroots approach to development. “Fortunately enough, EWB was around to provide me with an outlet to learn, grow and contribute to building opportunity for rural Africans.”

Mark joined EWB-Grand River in the summer of 2007, and got involved by assisting in corporate outreach and public outreach events. In 2009 he took on the role of Corporate Outreach Coordinator and became the Grand River contact for the National Corporate Engagement Team.  Part of this role involved building a partnership with the Consulting Engineers of Ontario through a series of Lunch and Learn presentations at member companies. After learning about the African Programs Team Sector focus areas, at the Eastern Regional Retreat in 2009, he felt inspired to consider joining EWB’s African Programs work himself.

Mark is excited about being part of EWB’s Junior Fellowship in International Development program and taking a bigger step into the world of international development.  Mark will be spending four months overseas in Ghana partnering with they Ministry of Food & Agriculture (MoFA) in efforts to advance the ‘Agriculture As A Business’ program, which helps promote business skills and thinking within local f farmer groups.

Having worked with farmers, and previous international experience will help Mark to understand the complex realities that affect rural communities in Ghana and the many challenges that they face to climb their way out of poverty. “By working with EWB  in Ghana, I hope to help assist, inspire and empower those with the potential and desire to seek a better way of life for themselves, their families and their communities.”