GLOBE Microloan Program
When photographer Xander Arpag '14C flew to Nicaragua to document the work of the University’s GLOBE Student Fellows Program, he knew he would see the life-changing work of the microloan program firsthand. Like the others on the trip, he never expected his life would be changed, too.
Catherine Sims ‘15G had a similar reaction to the experience. “GLOBE has given me the inspiration to become a social entrepreneur,” she said. “I’m more acutely aware, not just of the problem of poverty, but the fact that we have the power to do something about it.”
“I have worked with various humanitarian organizations and missions in the past, but GLOBE really blew me away,” said Arpag. “It was incredible to see how far a few hundred dollars could go toward helping someone build a business. ”Inspired by his experience with GLOBE, he will soon begin shooting a documentary on an international group of women who are climbing mountains to raise awareness of human trafficking.
The student fellows are part of the larger GLOBE (Global Loan Opportunities for Budding Entrepreneurs) initiative, a microloan program in The Peter J. Tobin College of Business that engages students in international finance while fulfilling St. John’s Vincentian mission of helping those in need. Since its inception in 2009, GLOBE has given out 48 microloans to 76 borrowers around the world, in partnership with the Daughters of Charity, who coordinate the distribution and collection of funds.
GLOBE is funded entirely by donations. At least 95 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to GLOBE borrowers and related student fieldwork.
The program was founded by Linda M. Sama, Ph.D., the Joseph F. Adams Professor of Management and Associate Dean for Global Initiatives in the Tobin College. Sama wanted to strengthen the impact that business principles and Vincentian values have on her students’ lives. She chose a hands-on approach.
“After 20 years, I felt the need to stop merely writing about social issues and do something about them,” Sama explained. “I wanted to get students to start thinking about business as a positive vehicle for social change – that would have a greater impact than just writing an article in an ethics journal.”
The GLOBE Student Fellows’ experience in Nicaragua in May is a perfect example. Edmund Inorkpor '15CPS saw firsthand how the program makes an indelible impact on the lives of loan recipients. “One of the borrowers sells stationary from her home, so her whole family is involved in the business,” he recalled. “Knowing that I was in some way responsible for her business—and seeing her beam with pride—was such a rewarding experience.”
In addition to Nicaragua, GLOBE has borrowers in Kenya, Vietnam, The Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria. According to Inorkpor, one of the reasons for GLOBE’s success is its sense of partnership with loan recipients. “GLOBE goes to the root of the problem,” he said. “We empower borrowers to be self-sufficient, instead of providing them with handouts.”
Sims, who has been involved with community service since childhood, has a similar opinion. “When I learned about GLOBE, I realized what was missing from my goals and efforts to alleviate poverty–sustainability,” she said. “My mission is to work towards creating sustainable solutions to the social injustices that take place in communities. Service and fieldwork help me to gain an understanding of how these solutions can be put into practical application to discover which ones work, how they work, and why.”
Students Changing the World
“I wanted to get students to start thinking about business as a positive vehicle for social change –that would have a greater impact than just writing an article in an ethics journal.”
- Linda Sama, Ph.D.
“What impressed me the most about the GLOBE borrowers was the tenacity of their passion for their small business.”