Anielka Münkel — Developing World Dignity & Creativity

Acton Institute, Nicaragua

We need a change in mindsets so that people can recognize the dignity and creative capacity of their brothers and sisters in the developing nations.

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Anielka Münkel, a citizen of Nicaragua, is a project manager at the Acton Institute where she currently works on PovertyCure, a global initiative that advances enterprise solutions to poverty. In Nicaragua, she served as advisor to the minister of tourism, promoting Nicaragua as a tourist and investment destination. Ms. Münkel collaborated on speeches for former President Enrique Bolaños, and negotiated investment opportunities with international corporations. Previously, she served as coordinator of the Government Investor Network (GIN) at PRONicaragua, the Investment Promotion Agency of the Presidency. She authored the article "Nicaragua: A UN Pilot Country on the Road to Success" and presented the results of the GIN project at the United Nations in 2005. She was selected to participate in the US Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program, in October of the same year. Ms. Münkel earned her bachelor's in international relations and business administration from Ave Maria College of the Americas and holds an MBA (magna cum laude) from the University of Notre Dame, where she won the grand prize in the Social Venture Plan Competition with Sustainable Health Enterprises.

  • Dignity and Creativity of the Person

    I have a problem with the way that people in the developing world are portrayed sometimes in these poverty campaigns or in these sponsorship programs...It is true that there are hard conditions in our countries, but we don’t want to be known just for the dumping site. We don’t want to be known for the helplessness of people because they are not helpless. This goes back to the vision that some people have of their brothers and sisters in the developing world. If you see them as hopeless individuals that are just sitting there, waiting for a solution to come from the sky, of course you’re going to think they need a handout. But if you recognize that they are creators, that they can innovate, that they can be your business partners, then you’re going to think, “Okay, wait a minute. What is preventing them from creating wealth?

  • No More Top-Down Plans

    We don’t need another set of U.N. goals, millennium development goals or another celebrity campaign like The ONE Campaign to end poverty. What we need is a change in mindsets so that people recognize the creative capacity and the dignity of their brothers and sisters in developing countries and are able to support them in their own agendas, in their own initiatives. We need projects that create opportunity for people to develop themselves.

  • Ireland as a Role Model for Nicaragua

    When I worked for the Investment Promotion Agency in Nicaragua, I had a chance to meet with leaders of Ireland's economic development strategy. They spoke to us about the importance of innovation, of focusing on education, opening up to trade, and the key value of attracting foreign direct investment (FDI). This experience was very encouraging because they evaluated our work and concluded that every dollar that was invested in the agency was getting a hundred percent return. The government wasn’t getting that out of any other organization. It really showed us that despite the image, despite the challenges, it was possible to create wealth and a wealth that would have an impact in the lives of all Nicaraguans as we looked to the future.

  • Emergency Relief

    There’s obviously a place for emergency relief. In Nicaragua we suffer from earthquakes and hurricanes, and we are very grateful for the response of the international community. What happens though in some instances is that due to corruption, the very funds that are sent to help people that are suffering end up in the wrong hands, and that was the case of Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

  • The danger of ONE story

    The Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Adichie warns us of the danger of ONE story. She mentions that when she came to the US to study at the university her roommate had felt sorry for her long before she met her, because she was from Africa – the continent of beautiful landscapes, war, aids and dire poverty. There was therefore no possibility of a connection. And that is what happens at times, you show people as one thing over and over again and that’s what they become in the minds of others. The reality is that there are other stories, but are you willing to listen to them?