Skip to main content

Saint Louis University Header Logo Center

Menu Search & Directory

Sierra Zima Pursues Passion for Economic Development as Director of Communication for Blue Mangoes

While growing up in Crystal Lake, Illinois, Sierra Zima developed a passion for helping others. Driven by a particular interest in food insecurity, she got involved with her local food pantry and ended up interning for Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin.

Now a senior at SLU-Madrid majoring in international business, Zima landed a position as director of communication for Blue Mangoes, an innovative, student-led non-governmental organization that partners with rural farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, Central America and the Caribbean.

Women prepare mangos for dehydration.

Two women in Kenya peel mangoes to prepare for preservation in a solar-powered dehydrator, built by the student-led NGO Blue Mangoes, in their rural farming community. This technology enables fruit farmers to preserve post-harvest overabundance. The fruit is then packaged, shipped and sold in natural food stores and co-ops in the United States. 

About Blue Mangoes

For many fruit farmers in impoverished communities, post-harvest overabundance often spoils because farmers are not able to preserve it properly. Blue Mangoes steps in by providing a way to preserve and then ship the fruit to the United States for sale in natural food stores and co-ops: the solar-powered dehydrator.

Representatives from Blue Mangoes travel to farming communities to help build and teach locals about the dehydrator. Each community keeps a copy of a construction manual, so they can build additional units if they choose to do so. Since it was founded in 2017, Blue Mangoes has partnered with six rural farming communities in four counties: Panama, Haiti, Uganda and Kenya.

Adding Experience from SLU-Madrid

As director of communication for Blue Mangoes, Zima is responsible for generating web content for the company and maintaining the corporate image. She not only puts her business and marketing know-how into practice but also joins forces with like-minded peers to work toward meaningful outcomes.

“Personally, I see this position as a chance for me to collaborate with other students who are passionate about economic development and creating relationships with and solutions for these rural communities,” she said.

Zima initially got involved with Blue Mangoes before she transferred to SLU-Madrid, which she found out about through a friend who had studied abroad in Madrid.  

“It seemed like a great opportunity to keep studying Spanish and add the international flavor to my international business degree," Zima said. "I love the diversity of the campus, as well as the small class sizes where you can really get to know your peers and professors.”

Focusing on the Future

From across the pond, she continues to collaborate with Blue Mangoes, and sees a bright future for the organization.

After graduation, Zima said she aspires to work in the fields of marketing and business while finding creative ways to impact the lives of others.