Three women stand together, smiling.

Village Enterprise President and CEO Dianne Calvi honored by Stanford University

We are thrilled to share the following update from our partner Village Enterprise:

Stanford University recently announced that the President’s Award for the Advancement of the Common Good will be awarded to Dianne Calvi, Village Enterprise’s President and CEO. We are honored and thrilled for this recognition of our CEO and our work to end extreme poverty in rural Africa.

The President’s Award for the Advancement of the Common Good honors Stanford alumni who have positively and sustainably changed the trajectory of people’s lives in their communities and around the world. Dianne will be honored with the President’s Award at Stanford’s commencement ceremony on June 18 along with the other awardee, Rey Saldaña, President and CEO of Communities In Schools.

“Rey and Dianne embody the essence of this award. They are both dedicated to uplifting others and finding impactful solutions to the challenges facing communities,” said Marc Tessier-Lavigne, President of Stanford University. “Their inspiring commitment to public service illustrates our hope for Stanford graduates—that they will go on to pursue lives of purpose and civic engagement. I look forward to bestowing this well-deserved recognition at Commencement.”

“I am honored and humbled to be recognized with the President’s Award for the Advancement of the Common Good,” said Dianne Calvi. “To me, this award isn’t just a reflection of my individual accomplishments but rather a testament to the work of our extraordinary team at Village Enterprise along with the foundational work of our founders, Joan Hestenes and Brian Lehnen, our former Board Chair, Debbie Hall, current Board Chair, Katie Boland, our dedicated board members, and our many supporters and partners who are all committed to our mission of ending extreme poverty in rural Africa through entrepreneurship, innovation, and collective action.”

Three women stand together, smiling.

Village Enterprise Chief Program Officer Winnie Auma (left) and Dianne Calvi (right) visit with first-time entrepreneurs participating in Village Enterprise in Uganda.

Since Dianne joined Village Enterprise as President and CEO in 2010, Village Enterprise has lifted over one million East Africans out of extreme poverty, successfully completed two randomized controlled trials, exceeded targets on the first-ever Development Impact Bond for poverty alleviation in Africa, and launched DREAMS for Refugees, the winner of the 2023 Fast Company World Changing Ideas Award for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa as well as the Larsen Lam ICONIQ Impact Award. During her tenure, Village Enterprise has been recognized for excellence by Charity Navigator, GuideStar, the Drucker Institute, Million Lives Collective, and The Life You Can Save, among others. In April, the organization was the recipient of its largest unrestricted donation to date, a $7 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

“Climate change and conflict are pushing more people in Africa into extreme poverty and are impacting the most vulnerable, especially women and children,” said Dianne. “We know that when these women have opportunities to launch climate-smart businesses, they not only lift themselves and their families out of poverty—they are also equipped to adapt to the threats of climate change. Our goal is to equip 3 million first-time entrepreneurs and transform 20 million lives by 2030. Through the hard work and commitment of our passionate African team, we believe it is possible to end extreme poverty and instill a sense of hope for a better future.”

As Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times pointed out when writing about the approach of Village Enterprise and our partners, “Much of the news about global poverty is depressing, but this is fabulous: a large-scale experiment showing, with rigorous evidence, what works to lift people out of the most extreme poverty. And it’s exhilarating that one of the lessons may be so simple and human: the power of hope.”

Learn more about Village Enterprise and how to support their work here: Village Enterprise – Creating sustainable businesses – Transforming lives