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

Staff Spotlight: Mauricio Rincon

By Joe Dutra

What turns a Wall Street banker into an international development advocate? One word: passion.

Mauricio Rincon’s life is made up of unique juxtapositions. His grandparents were smallholder farmers, but they moved to the city to build a new life. He spent most of his time in college in the economics department—but found his real passion on the streets of Ciudad Bolivar, the largest slum of his native Bogota, building an education-oriented nonprofit organization with his friends. He spent most of his career securing billion-dollar deals as an investment banker in New York, but COVID-19 shook him to the core and brought him here to Opportunity International.

But Mauricio doesn’t see these opposing pieces of his life as contradictions or opposites. Instead, these unique experiences are the recipe for change.

“I believe that the work I’m doing here is all about systems change and enabling market-based solutions. I didn’t get to do that on Wall Street, but those skills are the tools needed to enact change globally, when led by established organizations like Opportunity.”

Mauricio is Opportunity International’s Managing Director of Capital Solutions. While it’s a lot of syllables to put on a card, essentially, Mauricio’s work is focused on bringing the global capital flows closer to the people who need support the most. By convincing bankers to care about the transformative power of finance on those in poverty—and further convincing them that there is still a business merit to pursue passion and purpose—Mauricio has helped infuse millions of dollars in impact into communities around the world.

For a Colombian-born grandson of farmers who co-developed a nonprofit focused on afterschool opportunities for children living in poverty, Mauricio has the pleasure of bringing virtually all of his passions together for this work.

2024 Society for International Development Conference, Washington D.C. Pictured left to right Ambassador John Simon, Mauricio Rincon, and DFC's Chief Climate Officer Jake Levine
2024 Society for International Development Conference, Washington D.C. Pictured left to right Ambassador John Simon, Mauricio Rincon, and DFC's Chief Climate Officer Jake Levine

“My own parents’ parents left their farms because a good life seemed more accessible in the city. I believe that our work helping farmers grow more and earn more is a way to show the world that farming must be a source of a life with dignity and purpose for millions,” Mauricio said. “And as for education—well, for me, it is an obsession. If you don’t help build opportunities for children, changing the future is impossible.”

If it is growing apparent that he is a man driven by passion, it likely will not surprise you that the charitable endeavors of a college student are still standing and Mauricio married his then-friend who led the group building that nonprofit together. Known as Fundación Nueva Vida para Todos, the organization is still operational—and is driven by the very same philosophy as the institution he finds himself working for today.

“At its core, it’s about wanting a better life for the people, particularly kids and youngsters, in the communities we serve. We cannot give it to them, it’s not that easy. But we can give them what they need to create a path to that new life.”

And of course, Mauricio’s own passions have resulted in millions of dollars in impact. His proudest achievement across his career is the alliance he formed with the international impact investment agency Oikocredit. His work building a mechanism to ensure successful investments and reduce risk through Opportunity’s own EduFinance programming resulted in a $100 million partnership to support thousands of schools across 16 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The collaboration is poised to improve education for an estimated 2.2 million children in some of the world’s most vulnerable and underserved populations.

Even with a history of making deals ten times as big back on Wall Street, Mauricio believes this deal is one of the most important achievements of his life—given the impact it can have on children like the young people served by Fundación Nueva Vida para Todos.

“It feels like I was supposed to be here. I take great pride in working for a company that cares deeply about the issues of my home country and the issues I am so personally dedicated to.”

They say a man who can find joy in work is blessed. And this father of 3 considers himself blessed to have found a job where his passions and skills almost effortlessly blend together. Today, Mauricio is building new financial products like the Climate Collateral Alliance initiative, aimed at harnessing catalytic capital (read as: courageous and altruistic investors) to tear down the smallholder farmer financing gap.

Mauricio, far left, with members of Opportunity Bank
Mauricio, far left, with members of Opportunity Bank

The Climate Policy Initiative estimates only 0.8% of climate financing went to small-scale farmers and agri-food MSEs in 2023, with a proposed $170 billion annual financing gap for smallholder farmers facing the worst of the ongoing climate disasters. Smallholder farmers grow 1/3 of the world’s food supply—making the need to close this gap a global imperative.

It’s a tall order to tear down these systemic barriers. But for Mauricio Rincon, his history and passion—and an organization that allows him to tap into that passion—give him the drive to continue the fight.

“The markets work well for those who have. It takes a lot of time and effort to make these markets work for people who are struggling. But I’m a roll-up-your-sleeves kind of guy. So, let’s get it done.”

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