About April Rinne

Maybe you're here because you heard me speak, or about my travels or handstands, or maybe it was a tweet. In any case...

 
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Welcome.
I’m glad you’re here.
 

My dad, sister and me

My dad, sister and me

If you're looking for my bio, you can download it here or look at my LinkedIn profile. This page shares what’s not on my CV but has played an even more important role in who I am, what I do, and why.

I grew up with a love of nature, maps, learning and exploration. My Father, a cultural geographer and best friend, taught me to orienteer (and go off the beaten path) as soon as I could walk. He loved diversity, encouraged me to stretch beyond my comfort zone, and reminded me daily:

The world is a marvelous place — go check it out!

My Mother, meanwhile, decided that she wanted to raise an independent daughter. So she put me in charge of my own budget (for everything, from school supplies to underwear) when I was seven years old. We didn’t have much in terms of material possessions, but we invested whatever we could in education and travel — and I learned very young how to make a dollar last forever.  

Soon enough, I had to put my spirit of adventure and financial literacy to work. While I was in college, both of my parents were killed in a car accident. In an instant my entire world flipped upside down. I had to grow up fast, and I needed to figure out what really mattered in life: money or meaning, ego or impact, what others thought I should do or what my soul said?

Exploring villages in rural Cambodia. Some of the locals had never seen someone with freckles.

Exploring villages in rural Cambodia. Some of the locals had never seen someone with freckles.

Emerging from this tragedy in my early 20s, I was full of grief and questions. I knew that the world was unfair, life was short, and curveballs could thwart the best-laid plans. I also wanted desperately to make the most of my limited time on this blue marble, and to forge a life path that made sense to me. Something deep inside me — I can only call it my sixth sense — decided not to worry about my CV and shunned anything that looked like a ‘typical’ career.

Instead, with a backpack, shoestring budget and neither permanent address nor parental accountability, I set off. My goal was to see how the rest of the world lived, so I could figure out how to help, and hence what to do next. What I did not realize was just how profoundly it would transform me, my worldview and beliefs about what’s possible.

The next almost-four years saw me go from Iceland to India, Lichtenstein to Laos, Bolivia to Bulgaria. I researched and guided hiking and biking trips, which provided enough income to keep going and a black belt in logistics and management. I traveled through droughts and monsoons, took countless hikes and hitchhikes, got sick and held up at gunpoint, and broke as many assumptions as I could.

April Rinne

I learned about poverty and systemic failures, saw first-hand how urban slums operate, and met frugal innovation at its finest. Resourcefulness and resilience were my travel guides. I learned clever ways to maximize my budget, time and local impact. And I experienced the generosity and beauty of strangers, in droves. People would often ask me, “Lady, are you lost?” to which I would respond — even if I had no clue where I was — “no, but thank you for asking!” Half the time, we would end up sitting down for a cup of tea.

I consider myself a global citizen.

I took these experiences to heart, and went on to study law, finance and development (Harvard kindly said my profile was "unusual"). It was here that I began in earnest to make my life experience my life work: empowering others, bringing people + ideas + funding + smart policies together, rethinking how business is done, and creating greater impact than mere financial returns. I arrived early to microfinance, and used it as a jumping-off point to focus on financial innovation more broadly. Working alongside some of the most inspiring entrepreneurs I have ever met, from Kenya to Pakistan to Peru, we mainstreamed new ways for people to earn income, access finance, and create a brighter tomorrow for their families. For more than a decade, I had the honor of working on-the-ground locally, with policy makers nationally, and on behalf of investors everywhere.

April Rinne

From there it was a natural half-step to the digital economy, sharing economy, yet more new business models and more complex challenges. I have found that I am able to leverage my skills from earlier roles and bring unique perspective to issues ranging from sustainable growth and urbanization to loss of community, rising inequalities and policy reform. Especially with the rise of technology and globalization, never has it been more important to have first-hand experience with the vastly different realities in the world today.

Today I focus on the new economy, the future of work and global citizenship. On the one hand, I advise, speak, write and advocate for businesses and policies fit for the 21st century. On the other hand, I seek to be a role model for a new way of working, living, traveling, seeing, and being in this world... guided by my core principles of joy, gratitude, curiosity and service.

Why? Because there has never been a better time to rethink what’s possible, go off the beaten path, and unlock hidden value all around us.

Thank you for visiting.