Michael Leen

COUNTRY: Tanzania
CITY: Mwanza
FOCUS: Financial Inclusion
MINISTRY: Education for Better Living Organization (EBLI)


After earning a Bachelor’s degree from Boston College majoring in Marketing and Theology, Michael spent five and a half years leading strategic planning, brand marketing, communications, and program implementation for national category-leading carbonated soft drink brands at Dr Pepper Snapple Group in Dallas, Texas, including Dr Pepper, 7UP and Sunkist Soda. During that time, Michael earned his Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business. Called to accompany those living on the margins and desiring to help create a more just and compassionate world, Michael resolved with his wife, Ashley, to become Catholic lay missioners who are dedicated to living among and working alongside the poor, striving for locally-driven, sustainable solutions for poverty.


In collaboration with Education for Better Living Organization (EBLI), a local nongovernmental organization, Michael founded and managed a financial inclusion project in Mwanza, Tanzania focused on income and livelihood programs linked with microfinance, enabling marginalized youth to access financial services, attain employment and run small enterprises. Michael led project design and management, developed training materials, recruited beneficiaries, administered group facilitation of enterprise and microfinance cooperative and leadership trainings, ran monitoring and evaluation and impact analysis, and oversaw project marketing and communications, including web design, social media, and press media engagement. Additionally, he developed proposals and was awarded multi-year grants, created private sector partnerships for workforce development, and managed all staff, donor reporting, and financial oversight.


Michael lives with his wife, Ashley, and their daughter, Fiona, in the Washington, D.C. Metro Area. Michael works for FINCA International, a not-for-profit that works to alleviate poverty through lasting solutions that help people build assets, create jobs and raise their standard of living. The aim is to create economic justice and financial inclusion for all through microfinance, social enterprise, and research.