Making banking effective for the poor
In India, PhD student Natalia Rigol aims to tap into community knowledge to vet loan and grant applicants.
“You shouldn’t have to be extremely fortunate, like I have been, just to live a decent life.”
Graduate student Natalia Rigol has followed an unusual path to MIT: Her childhood in Cuba was tainted by poverty, and then her entire family received hard-to-come-by visas, enabling her to live out her elementary and middle school years in Russia and the Czech Republic — but with little understanding of the local languages.
When she was 13, Rigol’s family settled in the United States, where she finally had access to a middle-class life and a more stable education. Now, she is finishing up her PhD in economics, focusing on the use of finance to help poor individuals break the cycle of poverty.
“I often feel that I’m the product of extraordinary circumstances,” Rigol says. “But you shouldn’t have to be extremely fortunate, like I have been, just to live a decent life.”
Photo by M. Scott Brauer