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Vermonters Creating Partnerships For Global Change

Steve Schmida is Founder & Managing Director of Resonance; Nazgul Abdrazakova is President & CEO.

Steve Schmida met his wife Nazgul Abdrazakova in Kyrgyzstan where they worked for foreign assistance programs. Nazgul had never heard of Vermont when Steve suggested they move here, but its values have worked for them. Together, they run a company that helps bring the financial power of the private sector into partnership with government agencies and NGOs to alleviate poverty and increase security in more than 60 countries. Matchmaking common goals is key to their success.

"It’s about doing business better and getting results for communities at the same time," Schimda says.

When Steve started the company twelve years ago, corporations partnering with government agencies was a novel idea, but times have changed.

"If you are Unilever and you want to be able to offer products globally," Schimda says, "you have to source things globally and that means getting involved in a some very tricky development challenges."

Resonance has successfully tackled many seemingly intractable challenges like poverty alleviation, food security, curbing human trafficking and violent extremism.

"Schimda says, "Communities can work together: civil society groups, faith-based groups, local businesses and dev orgs, governments, ngos … to prevent violent extremism from taking place. … The topic sounds very intimidating until you unpack it and then you realize we’re applying some of the skills, to be frank, communities here in Vermont towns use every day … And so we are taking those skills and helping other communities in places like northern Nigeria, Tunisia apply those in their own context to develop their own solutions."

Steve says working with the power of community and cross sector partnerships leaves him optimistic.

 "… because I see people at the total margins of society; the poorest of the poor are included in the global conversations and are being considered not as beneficiaries, but as consumers and citizens. That’s powerful and that’s going to change the world.… I think we all need to take a step back and see that the world is getting to be a better place. Over the last 25 years more people have been lifted out of poverty globally than the entire sum of human history that’s an amazing achievement … that we need to continue on."

With a growth rate of more than 35% a year and work in more than 60 countries, this Vermont firm will continue to have global impact.