A Clive, Iowa, native, Nora Tobin leverages Iowa’s extensive ag to help people thousands of miles away.
After interning at the World Food Prize in Des Moines, working with international exchange students in Washington, D.C., and obtaining a master’s degree from Trinity College in Dublin, Nora returned to Iowa in 2013 to become the executive director of Self-Help International.
Formed in 1959, Waverly, Iowa-based Self-Help International is a nonprofit that provides no-collateral loans to Ghanaian and Nicaraguan farmers to allow them to gain equipment, supplies and expertise from Iowans and others to help their communities flourish.
“We’re better equipped in Iowa to lead this effort than anywhere else.”
“Our mission is to help alleviate hunger, not as a relief organization, but by giving farmers the tools they need to be successful on their own,” says Nora. The increased agricultural production — the roots of which can be traced directly back to Iowa — has a domino effect that then empowers the communities to improve in other areas, such as healthcare and leadership training.
“Iowa has so much to offer,” she says. “We’ve been fortunate to develop an incredibly strong agricultural environment, and so much of our success as a state is based in that. We have the power here to replicate our success in other parts of the world to make a real difference for millions of people. All we have to do is try.”