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© 2024 Opportunity Internationala 501(c)3 nonprofit. EIN: 540907624.

Staff Spotlight: Simona Haiduc

By Kelli Walker

As an organization, Opportunity International is rooted in the values of commitment, humility, stewardship, and transformation. For over five decades, we have listened first to our clients, then responded with solutions that enable people living in poverty to break the chains of generational poverty.

Simona Haiduc has been listening and responding to people in need for over 20 years—motivated by her belief in the power of transformation and business solutions to poverty. Thanks to her commitment, literally millions of families have worked their way out of poverty to sustainable livelihoods.

In 2002, Simona started her journey with Opportunity in resource development, advancing to positions in programs and leading teams in knowledge management.

As Managing Director, Strategic Partnerships, Simona currently leads our strategic partnership development efforts and manages the Opportunity International institutional business development team. She is responsible for cultivating and creating business development strategies with Opportunity’s institutional donors—corporations and large foundations—and designing powerful program partnerships that unleash the power of entrepreneurs in the developing world, with a strong focus on women entrepreneurs, youth, and farmers.

She has built out multi-year, client-centric partnerships with global leaders including the MasterCard Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and has led the effort of rebuilding the US government business development practice. She works with precise attention to detail, respect for the complexities of partnerships, and clear-eyed consideration of the individual mothers, fathers, and children at the center of our work.

Building upon her decades of experience with cross-sector partnerships, Simona has been instrumental in Opportunity International’s scaling of women’s economic empowerment business models through increasing access to capital and providing specialized trainings for under-resourced populations, especially women in the global south.

Audiences around the world have learned from Simona as she shares both her professional knowledge and amplifies the ongoing work of Opportunity to address the obstacles of living in the deepest poverty. In October 2023, the United Nations General Assembly announced a clear call to action to advance their Sustainable Development Goals to achieve a world without poverty. Alongside global leaders, Simona participated in two panels, discussing women’s economic empowerment and technology:

  • Women and youth-led small-, medium-, and micro-enterprises play critical roles in global economic progress. As Simona noted, “Investing in women and youth is a client-centric, effective intervention for nonprofit organizations fighting poverty—and it is a good investment for local partners and financial institution: investing in women provides a shared value proposition.”
  • Digital solutions and rapidly-developing technology that can be scaled at low cost have immense potential especially for the least developed nations—the places where Opportunity has been working for decades.

We are incredibly fortunate to have Simona seated at—and always welcoming others to join—the Opportunity table. Her keen business mind is matched only by her drive to serve our clients in the most meaningful way possible.

Prior to joining Opportunity in 2002, Simona served on the leadership team of the Open Society/Soros Foundation, the largest grant-making organization in Central and Eastern Europe and led the microfinance program in the Transylvania region. At HSBC Romania, Simona worked as regional corporate finance manager. She holds a Master of Science in Management of International Public Service Organizations from New York University. She lectured at Colombia Business School, Markets for the Poor class. Simona lives in Chicago with her family and enjoys traveling to Romania as frequently as she can to spend time with her extended family. We are grateful for Simona’s advocacy and strategic leadership.

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