This progress maker is helping make global enterprises more sustainable

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Responsible finance. It is the view that businesses can create value by pursuing projects that make progress toward socially beneficial ends. This makes sense at Citi, where “progress makers” are encouraged to marry “doing well” with “doing good,” recognizing that projects can both be financially prudent and further social gain.

In today’s global economy, finance is measured in nanoseconds and success is usually marked by ideas that can generate rapidly scalable returns. Business means business, and no one said it would be easy to discover and develop projects that sustain great utility.

Yet, some measure their progress at the micro level—not only are they seeking alpha, they are looking to change a few lives along the way. From hackathons aimed at digital disruption to rebuilding hurricane-hit communities with new financial tools, these three progress makers are dedicated to expanding what investments can do for those in need. Smarts, ingenuity, and a heavy dose of passion are a must.

Noha Galal Abdelsalam on sustainable irrigation in sub-Saharan Africa

From nutrition, to health, to infrastructure, social enterprises don’t have to look far to find challenges to tackle in underdeveloped, rural areas across the globe. The real challenge is finding capital backing that allows you to pursue and implement solutions. Enter Noha Galal Abdelsalam, who works with small and mid-sized companies with a global footprint. One project, KickStart International, Inc., sells water pumps to farmers at an affordable cost—the farmers invest in the pumps, work to irrigate their land, and reap the bounty. Citi’s team helped to provide working capital to KickStart International, navigating the foreign exchange and cash management hurdles necessary to import those pumps. With Noha’s help, these farmers can now enjoy a reliable stream of funding, so to speak.

Alexandra Levin on preserving affordable housing

Alexandra Levin considers New York’s Rockaways part of her community, and wasn’t going to let five feet of water in a building stop her from closing a deal that would benefit the neighborhood. As a result of Hurricane Sandy, an affordable housing complex in New York’s Rockaways was waterlogged and in need of considerable work. Alexandra, in her role at Citi, worked with its New York Affordable Housing Preservation Fund to help execute a major rehabilitation, making sure that the building, Arverne View, would remain affordable for the area’s families for years to come.

Elena Anisimova on digital innovation

Anisimova’s family moved from the former Soviet Union when she was 11. Moving from central-planning to a market-based economy gave Elena a firsthand glimpse into what happens when decisions become detached from a changing reality; in the process she got an early lesson in spotting industries that are ripe for disruption. She’s now leading change in financial services and banking—an industry that is being rapidly transformed by digital technology—grooming developers who want to help change the way the world engages with money. Anisimova’s childhood years taught her to find comfort in the shifting tides of change, and today she’s fearless about accelerating that change, digitally.

Click here for more people who make progress.

This article was produced on behalf of Citi by the Quartz marketing team and not by the Quartz editorial staff.