July 06, 2010
St. John’s University, in conjunction with Grameen America, hosted a
Borrower’s Market and presented an immersion learning session
titled: “It’s a Borrowers Market: Microfinance in Action” as part
of the 2010 National Conference on Volunteering and Service on the
Campus on Tuesday, June 29.
Conference participants were given the opportunity to explore New
York City for first-hand learning experiences while visiting
locations where service takes place every day. Escorted by
Student Orientation Leaders from the Hilton New York,
participants from across the country traveled downtown to the
Manhattan campus for the afternoon educational session and to
peruse the Borrower’s Market.
P. Pellow, Ed.D, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating
Officer at St. John’s University, welcomed the group to the Saval
Auditorium and touched upon the various components of the St.
John’s administrative and student efforts to support Grameen
America’s initial foray into microfinance in the United
James Maher, C.M., Vice President of Student Affairs and
Executive Director of the Vincentian Institute for Social
Action (VISA), spoke of St. Vincent de Paul’s theory that
“charity must be organized” and how the University has launched a
unique social institute to support that idea. VISA provides an
organizational focus for a variety of new and ongoing programs
through which faculty and students can work together to explore the
causes of and develop solutions for poverty and social injustice
throughout the world. By engaging strategic partners, like Grameen
American, Rev. Maher explained, VISA seeks to fulfill the needs of
the host communities by using the University’s resources and also
to measure the impact in those specific communities. VISA
encourages the St. John’s community to engage in activities that
are designed to advance the Vincentian commitment to social justice
and systemic change.
Linda Sama, Professor of Management and Associate Dean for
Global Initiatives at St. John’s University, presented on the
student-managed global microloan program at the Peter J. Tobin
College of Business. Global
Opportunities for Budding Entrepreneurs (GLOBE), seeks to help
local entrepreneurs in the developing world by providing them
access to credit through which they can leverage their own talents
and lift themselves out of poverty. With three semesters completed,
60 GLOBE Managers have graduated and taken the knowledge they have
gained through this hands-on experience into the world to continue
to make a difference.
Lastly, Leslie Kane, Executive Vice President of Grameen America,
spoke of her organization’s efforts to help break the cycle of
poverty through microfinance in disadvantaged U.S. communities.
Kane explained the process that low-income female entrepreneurs
endure to receive microloans as well as the success this concept
has had both in the U.S. and on a global scale.
Following the presentation, conference participants were invited to
attend the “Borrower’s Market,” in which entrepreneurs who have
benefited from Grameen America’s unique lending program displayed
their wares at booths outside on Murray Street.
St. John’s University and Grameen America developed a unique
service partnership in spring 2009, which focuses on alleviating
poverty through enterprise and entrepreneurship.
The National Conference on Volunteering and Service is the world’s
largest gathering of volunteer and service leaders from non-profit,
government and corporate sectors. It is an annual event that
provides attendees an opportunity to learn, connect and be inspired
through exciting and informative plenary sessions, workshops,
special events, service projects, exhibits, specialized corporate
tracks and more.