June 29, 2009
Grameen America, a non-profit microfinance organization
dedicated to the eradication of poverty, teamed up with Whole Foods
Market on June 24 for a “Community Giving Day.” Five percent of net
sales at the retail grocer’s five Manhattan locations on that day
will be donated to support low-income entrepreneurs in New York
provides loans, credit establishment, savings programs and other
financial services to entrepreneurs, especially women. In April
2009, Grameen and St. John’s University joined together to forge a
strategic partnership to develop and implement practical,
measurable solutions to poverty.
On June 24, Malessa Rodrigues, one of five St. John’s student
interns working at Grameen, was present at Whole Foods in TriBeCa,
where she distributed Grameen literature, informed shoppers about
the organization’s mission and answered questions about the effort
and how they can help. Other members of the Grameen team did the
same at the store’s Bowery, Chelsea, Union Square and Columbus
“We’re hoping to receive between $40,000-50,000 during this one-day
event,” enthused Malessa Rodrigues, an MBA student in The Peter J.
Tobin College of Business. She noted that the organization’s
average loan to a low-income borrower is approximately
$2,200. With that amount, a woman living at or below the
poverty line can start or expand a small business. “If our hopes
are realized, it means we can make up to 25 more loans!”
Malessa and her fellow student interns are participants in St.
John’s student-managed GLOBE (Global Loan Opportunities for Budding
Entrepreneurs) program in the Tobin College of Business. GLOBE was
created to help alleviate poverty in developing countries by
providing small business loans to entrepreneurs in impoverished
areas who would not otherwise have access to credit. Already the
students in GLOBE have funded 10 new businesses as a result of
raising $22,000 during an Open House and Spring Fair at the
University’s Carnesecca Arena on April 17.
The students are being aided in their efforts by The Daughters of
Charity—an order of religious women co-founded in 1633 by St.
Louise de Marillac and St. Vincent de Paul—who are acting as
GLOBE’s field partner in more than 20 regions around the world,
helping to gain access to low-income entrepreneurs in struggling
All of these efforts are being managed by St. John’s new Vincentian
Institute for Social Action (VISA), which was established to
coordinate the talents of inter-disciplinary faculty, passionate
students and strategic service partners. VISA is drawing upon the
resources of all six colleges and schools of St. John’s as it works
with select social agencies in New York City, across the nation and
around the world.
“Our students and faculty are learning from the very best and at
the same time they will have the opportunity to help thousands
escape poverty,” said Dr.
James P. Pellow, Ed.D., Executive Vice President and Chief
Operating Officer at St. John’s. “Our goal is collaboration that
generates Action with Impact.”