From left: Eric Soard, Noel Chomola, Kimberly Watson, & Reiko Muranaka
In 2019, Kimberly Watson, of Georgetown, Texas, saw two life paths ahead. With open mind and open heart she discerned which one to take. She faced a big decision regarding whether it was time to retire early and become a full-time missionary. Or, should she pursue a couple more projects before wrapping up a successful business career?
At this crossroads, Kimberly engaged with the United Methodists Volunteers in Missions (UMVIM) and connected with missionary Reverend Eric Soard, founder and first Principal of Wesley College.
Kimberly had a long history of short-term missions in multiple areas of the world. But she had never been to Africa and she had typically volunteered with church and homebuilding projects. This would be her first time contributing professional business expertise to the mission field. She took time off from work and spent two months onsite in Mwanza, Tanzania.
From the start, Kimberly was struck by the ‘rich and beautiful culture,’ and she was impressed with the clear possibilities in Mwanza, despite the challenges. She liked how Wesley College was positioned to fill gaps in the community, and not replicate the work of existing NGOs.
“Wesley College is equipped to arm young people with skill sets to get them to the next level. Because of Wesley College, young people can rise from impoverishment, grow, and become successful servant leaders.”
Kimberly’s specific role was to help launch ‘Tukuwe,’ the entrepreneurship center of Wesley College. This involved understanding the limitations faced by would-be entrepreneurs in Tanzania. How could they access capital? How could they connect with mentors? Working alongside Eric Soard and another graduate student volunteer (Reiko Muranaka, from the Clinton School of Public Service), they worked to develop a model for Tukuwe to become a revenue stream for the college.
Soon after returning from Mwanza, Eric Soard asked Kimberly to join the Wesley College Foundation Board of Directors, and she continues to be a passionate supporter.
Why does Kimberly feel that US donors should support Wesley College?
"For any impoverished country to advance and grow, youth are critical. The investment is so small to drive enormous results. In the area of entrepreneurship, a mere $500 we can take something from zero to manufacturing and a profit."