Starting Small

Sophie Asmar ’09 reflects on what sustainability means to her and her journey to find solutions that bring impactful change.

5asmarsophie Ghana Immersion Trip 2009
Sophie Asmar ‘09 has been a longtime volunteer at Kiva where she helps provide microloans to people in need across the world.

Sustainability is like a braided rope for Sophie Asmar ‘09. What may appear straightforward and singular actually consists of many different factors, people, and communities interwoven with each other. Each thread is unique and sustainable solutions must reflect this multi-faceted nature.

Asmar put these ideas to practice as a longtime volunteer at Kiva, an international nonprofit that provides microloans to people around the world without access to banks or traditional funding streams. The loans are crowdfunded through Kiva’s website and could help, for example, students pay for tuition, women start their own businesses, or farmers invest in better equipment. 

Finding sustainable solutions, she says, occurs “within the confines of society… [and understanding] that the context you’re working in will continue to adapt and still be useful in future years and change with the people that you’re interacting with.”

Something she sees as a hindrance toward people working toward sustainable change, is that they’re starting too big.

“I think everyone’s trying to figure out exactly how we’re gonna solve the world’s problems,” Asmar says. “Even just solving a small problem in your backyard, in your household, in your community, [or] in your class, that’s already something. So start small start wherever you can [and] wherever you see a problem.”

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