In 2019, Clara, who is a Native Swahili speaker, together wtih her former economics professor from SMU, founded Kijiji Innovative Sustainable Solutions (KISS), a nonprofit organization that works to find practical but sustainable solutions for alleviating extreme poverty in rural Tanzania, starting with her late father's birth villiage of Kasisa. Her project is part of the 2020 Clinton Global Initiatives University cohort.
Our vision at KISS is of a Tanzania that is aware of its role on environmental stewardship and takes development initiatives that are conscious of environmental impact on future generations. A Tanzania that remains as a paradise island with its wildlife protected and natural resources replenished in the course of its economic development.
As a way to give back to the country of her birth, Clara hopes to provide a venue for everyone willing in any way to make a difference in the lives of the Kasisa community. She believes in the notion that "it takes a village," and only through cooperation and interdependence will the world be able to reduce extreme poverty in all forms.
You can learn more about our first project, located in Kasisa near Lake Victoria in Tanzania, here.
"Kijiji Sustainable Solutions started with a belief that we could develop practical yet sustainable solutions for alleviating extreme poverty in rural Tanzania, starting with my late father's birth village of Kasisa.
We thank you for your continued engagement and support. I firmly believe that "it takes a village" to champion positive change, and it is only through cooperation and collaboration that we will be able to reduce extreme poverty in all forms."
Clara Ford, Founder & President
CLARA Rulegura Ford
Founder, President & CEO
Clara Ford was born and raised in Tanzania to her politician father and a mother who was a public school teacher. It was because of her upbringing that Clara became passionate about public service and giving back at a young age. She migrated to the United States in 2000 and now lives in Dallas, TX, with her husband and three children.
Prior to founding K.I.S.S., Clara worked within the financial service industry, where she was a Commercial Lending Officer first for JP Morgan Chase Bank and later in 2017 for Bank of America. She currently works for the Federal Reserve System as a senior bank examiner.
Clara holds a BBA in Accounting from the University of Houston-Downtown in 2010 as well as two MA degrees for Applied Economics as well as Sustainability & Development from Southern Methodist University.
Treasurer & CFO
Thomas Osang is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California, San Diego.His research and teaching interests are in the area of economic development as well as international trade and finance. He has taught economic development courses for undergraduates, M.A. and Ph.D. students at SMU.
He is the author of two books, several book chapters and numerous articles in publications such as the Journal of Development Economics, the Southern Economic Journal, the Canadian Journal of Economics and the American Economic Review.
Paul Westbrook designed his own solar home in north Texas in 1996, which won the Energy Value Housing Award for Innovative Design (https://enerjazz.com/house). He led the green design of a Texas Instruments factory in Richardson, which was the first LEED Gold semiconductor factory in the world.Paul then worked to improve the energy and water efficiency of TI’s 20 million square feet of global facilities. They were able to double the company energy and water efficiency in less than 10 years.
In 2012, Paul was named a Senior Fellow for the US State Department’s Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) program. He visited Honduras, Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru where he worked with governments, universities, and industry on efficiency and renewable energy. In 2019 Paul published a book-The Joy of Efficiency. Paul’s degree is in Mechanical Engineering.
Martin Rulegura was born in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, but his parents originally come from Mwanza where the Kijiji initiative is based. Martin graduated from the University of Dar es Salaam as an Environmental Engineer in 2004 before he worked for a couple of years with various organizations on environmental challenges, most notably within the water distribution and responsible mining practices.
From 2006 to date, Martin embarked on a Missionary Volunteer program within the Catholic Church in Tanzania, working to ameliorate the lives of marginalized families and youth in different parts of Tanzania. He focuses mainly in two regions: Mwanza and Bukoba. Martin's core desire is to see people develop in all respects for the betterment of their welfare, hence raising their standard of living holistically.
Working across the boundaries of urbanism, landscape mapping, and public engagement, Zarazaga explores ways to connect culture and community to place. Using GIS and participatory community mapping, she explores the impact of civil and environmental choices on the design of the sustainable city. As program director of the Masters in Sustainability and Development in the Lyle school of Engineering at SMU, Zarazaga supports community based projects both locally and internationally, ensuring that every student makes a measurable impact on the environment, working with real stakeholders in specific contexts integrating design, geospatial mapping and participatory principles, she connects engineering to the human context.
Jessie Zarazaga’s academic research spans education and practice, working on the integration of community research into project based learning. Her work overlaps areas of GIS mapping, global sustainable urbanism, design and creativity. She undertook a Fulbright in Valparaíso, Chile, to investigate, and map, devices of landscape as inspirations for the orders of community space and, African raised, she continues to work on sustainable projects in Kenya, Botswana and Tanzania.
Winter Wilson started backpacking in national parks across the United States with her family when she was eight years old, and adopted environmental advocacy in her early teens. After discovering themes of environmental injustice in her backyard in Appalachian, Ohio, she became increasingly interested in sustainable development, climate change adaptation and the ways in which environmental degradation disproportionately affects low-resource and vulnerable communities.
Winter is also currently a Stanford University Innovation Fellow, Clinton Global Initiative University Commitment Maker and documentary filmmaker, and has interned at the World Wildlife Fund, Woodrow Wilson Center and adelphi in Berlin, Germany. She is currently pursuing a Master of Environmental Management from Yale University and holds both a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from Ohio University.
MESHACK J. KAYILA
Meshack has been a leader in AIESEC, the world’s largest youth-run organization where he was
able to handle projects in different countries across the world. He is very competent in all
aspects of People Management and Leadership having serviced as a Human Resources
personnel for about six years now. He is a change agent and passionate about making a
positive impact in the society. He is adaptive, purpose driven and solution oriented. He holds
bachelor degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Dar es Salaam. Meshack
enjoys sports, reading and adventure.