Photo by Clayton Cotterell
Florence Randari 17
Hometown: Kitui, Kenya
Who I was when I got to Reed: When I got to Reed I was ready to succeed, but I missed the constant support and inspiration of my family. I had to learn to be my own person, make decisions, and stick by them.
Influential book: Poor Economics by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo looks at specific problems that come with being poor and offers practical solutions on how to fight global poverty.
Favorite class: Development economics with Prof. Denise Hare introduced me to the concept of experimental economics. I never knew that economists could actually go into the lab and perform experiments that would provide insights on how to solve different problems.
Cool stuff: I was one of the first people to do the Software Design Studio at Reed, which was so awesome. I was a house adviser, was on the international student advisory board, and got a President’s Summer Fellowship to study in Tanzania, working as a loan officer in a microfinance company.
How Reed changed me: Economics opened my eyes and taught me to identify a problem and then propose ways to solve it.
Word to prospies: At Reed, the academics are really challenging and the professors keep pushing you. They’ll give you problem sets or papers to write that are not even directly from the book. “How am I supposed to answer this?” you wonder. You begin to connect different things and you’re like, “Oh, wow, this is working out!” You realize there is not just one answer for a problem. The professors are really encouraging and they look for ways of making your life awesome.
Adviser: Prof. Denise Hare [economics 1992–]
Thesis: “Financial Inclusion Gender Gap: A Case Study of Tanzania”
What it’s about: My thesis looks at the financial inclusion gender gap in Tanzania, investigating whether being a woman makes your probability of getting an account in a formal financial institution lower, and recommending policy changes that can help close this gender gap. Microfinance firms loan to people not served by formal markets at really high interest rates (sometimes as high as 96%).
What it’s really about: In Tanzania, fewer women than men have bank accounts, and policy makers should work on removing the barriers that exclude women.
What’s next: I am currently interning as a business analyst with Mercy Corps here in Portland.
Financial aid: I got this education from Reed College on a scholarship and have developed ideas that can impact my country when I return to Kenya. In Reedies 4 Reedies, we raise scholarship money for an incoming student by asking current students to donate. Our mission is to engage people in philanthropy. If you want to change the world, it’s important to contribute.