Name: Casey Wilson
Casey Wilson is the co-founder and CEO of Wokai. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Wesleyan University with a BA in Economics. After graduation, Casey completed a course of study at Tsinghua University and the University of California at Berkeley’s Inter-University Program (IUP) for advanced Chinese before starting Wokai in 2007. Wokai (我开) means “I start” in Mandarin and is a non-profit organization committed to enabling people in China to lift themselves from poverty. In China, there are still over 200 million people living on less than $1.25 a day in rural areas that need access to opportunities.
Wokai’s approach uses the internet to allow contributors around the world to provide loan capital to borrowers in rural China, empowering them to lift themselves from poverty. The folks at Wokai, believe that building a worldwide community of small givers can have an incredible impact on increasing opportunities for the poor.
“Starting a startup non-profit of any kind was entirely new to me, being a 23-year-old without any work experience. Challenges are at the heart of the entrepreneurial process. While the nature of the challenges change over time, the challenges never stop coming!” says Casey.
On finding success, Casey said, “The most important lesson that I’ve learned is that if you want to make something happen (in China or anywhere else) you need to never take “no” or “impossible” for an answer and keep going until you make it work.”
5 Reasons Casey is Awesome:
- Since the website launch in November 2008, Wokai has raised over 4.5 million RMB in loan capital, attracted 8,000 users and empowered over 900 borrowers.
- Since October 2008, when Wokai launched, they have provided loans to 961 entrepreneurs. Their businesses range from noodle stands to tea shops to pig farms!
- Wokai has launched two pilot programs in Inner Mongolia and rural Sichuan and received tremendous media success with features in Time.com, Newsweek, MSNBC, CNBC, the Associated Press and the San Francisco Chronicle.
- In 2010, Casey was named “Most Influential Foreigner in China,” by China Newsweek in recognition for her efforts in building Wokai.
- Casey and Wokai has raised $1.12 million from major donors, foundations, corporations and individuals and secured pro-bono support from 15 companies including: Cathay Pacific, Morrison & Foerster, Douban.com, Phoenix Online, Brunswick PR and Google.