MEDAx Trailblazer: Get to know Corine Graber-Alvarez

To keep up with Corine Graber Alvarez, you’re going to need to move quick.

At 26 years old, this professional accountant and newly-minted MBA candidate is on the move—and has been since an early age.

Graber Alvarez was born in Puerto Rico, spent adolescence in the Philippines, Texas and Indiana, launched her professional career in Chicago, and this fall will begin a new chapter as an MBA candidate at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College (N.H.).

She isn’t sure when exactly she first came across MEDA, but between one adventure or another, she found a natural fit with MEDA’s 65-year-old tried-and-true tradition of ‘creating business solutions to poverty.’

Her interest was solidified when she served as a volunteer accountant for a MEDA-started financial institution in Nicaragua.

“I’ve seen the value, firsthand, of the projects and people supported by MEDA,” she said.

Seeing the Potential

While a student at Goshen College (Ind.), Graber Alvarez noticed a recurring theme in her life:

“Repeatedly, someone recognizes or sees something in me and can advocate for me. They suggest something to me which results in a new challenge and growth, ultimately enabling me to give back,” said Graber Alvarez.

She saw the trend first when a college staffer recommended a program that landed her an internship in Chicago.

In a matter of months, Graber Alvarez’s internship became a job. Over the next few years, she worked in a variety of professional financial service positions in Chicago, including audit, expatriates’ tax consulting and forensic accounting.

A similar single, transformative suggestion brought Graber Alvarez closer to MEDA.

“In my senior year at Goshen College, a professor recommended I look into volunteering with MEDA,” she said.

Heeding the advice, she signed up to go to Nicaragua where she volunteer audited for MiCrédito, one of the top 10 microfinance institutions in the country. MiCrédito was started in the 90s thanks to a loan from MEDA. Today, the company offers small loans to small businesses, providing hundreds of disadvantaged, aspiring Nicaraguan entrepreneurs with access to financial tools and education.

Keenly aware of her community’s impact in her own life, Graber Alvarez was most struck by the MiCrédito community she experienced.

As they walked through dusty market streets from business to business, she recalled, MiCrédito staff would point out client after client along the way, stopping to say hello whenever they could.

“It was a really inspirational trip for me, to be able to see the impact MEDA is making in these communities,” Graber Alvarez recalled.

She continued, “I have benefited personally from people investing in me,” she said. “I believe that personal connection is what really made MiCrédito successful.”

Staying Connected with MEDA

Next up, Graber Alvarez is full-speed ahead business-school bound, but that doesn’t mean she’s saying goodbye to MEDA anytime soon.

Currently, Graber Alvarez is a part of a committee of MEDA staff and supporters under 40 launching MEDAx, a new track for young adults at MEDA Convention 2018 in Indianapolis (Ind.).

“I think this is our opportunity to really tap into the exciting passion a lot of young people have to do good in the world,” she said.

The MEDAx 2018 theme, ‘Justice + Business = Change,’ will tie together 24-hours of dynamic programming, including a Friday Night Launch Party, an interactive workshop with industry leaders, and the MEDA 5k Pitch Competition.

The MEDAx theme also ties directly back to why she said she felt a lasting connection with MEDA in the first place:

“I see the value professionally of having the network of like-minded people who want to impact the world through business in long-term sustainable ways through long-term projects with local leadership,” she said.

Join the race to Indianapolis

If you’re thinking about attending MEDAx, Graber Alvarez and fellow committee members encourage you to start by visiting the event website, You can also find MEDAx on Facebook.

Graber Alvarez is straightforward in sharing why she believes professionals under 40 should attend the November event: “We are the future next generation of MEDA,” she said. “In 20 years, we’ll be able to look back at the first MEDAx and remember who we went, how it turned out…I’m looking forward to making those memories and expanding my network.”

She finished, “You never know where life will take you. I’m excited to meet professionals and meet different people who are passionate about doing business for good.”

Registration for MEDAx and the MEDA 5k Pitch Competition is now open. Space is limited. Learn more at or get in touch with a committee member, like Graber Alvarez, by contacting Vanessa at

Post Author
  • MEDA is an international economic development organization that creates business solutions to poverty. We work in agri-food market systems, focusing primarily on women and youth in rural communities in the Global South. Our success is measured by income, improved processes, increased knowledge, and the creation of decent work.

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