Aris headshot

Leland Fellow

Giselle Aris

6th Class, 2011-2013

Field Placement: Land O’Lakes International Development Division,  Arusha, Tanzania, and Harare, Zimbabwe

Giselle Aris served as the Enterprise Development and Gender Specialist for the International Development Division of Land O’Lakes, Inc. In Tanzania, she designed and carried out an intervention strategy for selecting 60 input supply businesses, building their capacity and linking them to smallholder farmers in the dairy value chain. Giselle also created a toolkit for field programs to use in identifying and addressing the constraints women face in participating in the dairy value chain. This toolkit is now being used in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Zambia with plans for wider geographical application in the coming year.

After Tanzania, Giselle continued her work with Land O’Lakes in Zimbabwe, focusing her efforts on strengthening the capacity of Zimbabwe’s National Association of Dairy Farmers (NADF) to provide business consulting and extension services to its members. Giselle designed a new, business-oriented model for NADF’s engagement with medium-scale farmers and received seed funding for the model’s application. NADF applied this model across Zimbabwe, and Land O’Lakes adopted it for work with smallholder farmers. Giselle also worked with NADF to create a financial model for providing breeding services to dairy farmers throughout the country, and forged strong partnerships with the private sector to enable quick, effective, sustainable implementation.

Giselle had several opportunities to share the enterprise development and gender integration methodologies she had developed. She presented at the Global Conference on Women in Agriculture in New Delhi, India, the ESADA (Eastern and Southern Africa Dairy Association) Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, and at the FAO Livestock Working Group in Harare, Zimbabwe. Giselle also played a key role in the design and technical writing of new project proposals, the rapid start-up of newly awarded projects, and the facilitation of Land O’Lakes’ Cooperative-to-Cooperative Learning Series.

Policy Placement: Land O’Lakes International Development Division, Washington, DC

Giselle worked from Land O’Lakes’ Washington, DC headquarters where she served as the technical Practice Manager for the USAID-funded Innovations in Gender Equality to Promote Household Food Security Program – a project she played a lead role in designing. She traveled to Tanzania to provide support for this project as needed. Giselle drafted an Agro-Dealers Manual, ensured the effective integration of gender into all of Land O’Lakes’ technical approaches, participated in new business development proposals, and presented on Land O’Lakes’ work and methodologies at external forums. In addition, she played an active role in overall strategy development for Land O’Lakes’ International Development Division and was a member of the division’s Impact Investment strategy team.

Pre-Fellowship Education/Experience:

Giselle Aris graduated from the University of Oxford in 2009 with an MPhil in International Development. Her Master’s thesis examined different forms of agricultural cooperatives and their effectiveness in tackling poverty in the rural developing world. Giselle conducted her fieldwork for this thesis in the Cordillera Mountains of the Philippines. Prior to attending graduate school, Giselle worked for the Department of Economic and Social Affairs at the United Nations, the Bureau of African Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, and Women’s Campaign International. Giselle also worked in Ghana at the Center for Democratic Development and conducted fieldwork in South Africa for her bachelor’s thesis on language policies and education systems. Giselle spent the two years prior to becoming a Leland Fellow working in southern India as Convener of the Navachetana Dairy Initiative, an innovative, farmer-focused social enterprise that now works with over 2,000 women farmers. Giselle played a leading role in designing, managing and scaling this enterprise.