Each semester, students enrolled in the Global Microloan Program will update this site with their weekly program logs. The fall 2012 student teams include Information Technology and Communications, Marketing and Fundraising, Accounting, Program Audits and Enterprise Development, and Finance and Risk Assessment.
Marketing and Fund Raising: Claire Cilento, Deven Lall*, Xixi Liu, Nurus Salam, Tiffany Yeung
Technology and Communications: Patrick Diamitani, Moneifa Nance, James Vanié, Elaine Vasquez*
Finance and Risk Assessment: Nattalia Balkaran, John Marchi*, Daniel O'Boyle, Sammi Sy
Accounting, Program Audits and Enterprise Development: Shelby Chambers, Shawn Chowdhury, Daniel Crean, Sally Ren*
Log # 1
By: Daniel Crean
In high school, I had a vague and unsubstantiated understanding of micro finance. I saw references to it in books and articles, but never gave it sufficient attention or consideration. Over the past year, that has begun to change. My roommate is a former GLOBE manager, and we spoke a lot about both the academic and practical aspects of the course. As we discussed concepts and loans my interest in microfinance increased. However, my understanding was still rather limited. I was intrigued by the subject, but had still not devoted enough time to truly understand the intricacies of the class. At this point, I had not considered joining GLOBE since I did not have a business background and did not believe it was an option.
The event that elevated my interest from mere intellectual curiosity was attending a Microfinance Club of New York meeting. The event in question featured a speaker, Mr. Vijay Mahajan, the founder and chairman of BASIX Group, an Indian MFI who offers micro lending packages including micro insurance in conjunction with business training programs. Initially, I was apprehensive about going to the event because being a mathematics major I did not think I would have the finance background necessary to understand the presentation. However, this feeling went away after the event began as it became clear that, at its core, microfinance is about people and social responsibility, which is something easily accessible to anyone.
Mr. Mahajan spoke a lot about how his business works and there were technical parts of the discussion, however the backdrop of all his words followed the basic premise that microfinance helps those living in poverty. Working to give the economically desperate access to capital is not merely an exercise in financial theory. The work that he did, and the stories that he told were about helping people rise above the circumstances that force them into poverty. In my eyes, his presentation was an appeal to human compassion. There are billions of people living in poverty every day, and microfinance is a potential solution to this problem. However, for microfinance to succeed it requires that social entrepreneurs buy into its mission. After hearing this presentation, I immediately became interested in taking a more active role in learning about microfinance, and it ultimately led me to apply for GLOBE.
Using the power of capitalism to defeat poverty was an idea that greatly appealed to me. However, there is more to microfinance than its message, and actually implementing a micro lending program requires a strong academic foundation in the subject. This fact, combined with positive feedback from previous GLOBE managers, is what led me to enroll in this class. I look forward to both learning and implementing these concepts.
For anyone reading this who is interested in viewing the aforementioned presentation, the video is available online at http://mfcny.org/content/livelihood-microfinance-basix-india-chairman-vijay-mahajan. It is fairly lengthy, and the video ends before his presentation concluded. However, it is very interesting and I strongly encourage anyone interested in microfinance to watch it.
Log # 1
By: Nattalia Balkaran
Absolutely one the greatest decisions I have ever made. GLOBE is exciting; it is one of a kind and is tremendously in favor of being a vehicle to providing an opportunity to those offered none. The aspect of engaging in microfinance has allowed me to open my eyes to a real setting, where there are real people, who are very much in need of real help. The most popular example of microfinance taking place in the world, such as Muhammad Yunus’ Grameen Bank, has illustrated the type of work that we as students can partake in, be successful and make a difference. The Grameen Bank is our particular example that serves as a driving force and motivation to remain confident in the ability to make a change in someone else’s life.
When I initially speak to people about microfinance and the wonderful things GLOBE is doing, they are very impressed. The concept to which microfinance lends itself to entrepreneurs is one that appeals to the masses. The Grameen Bank witnessed how appealing it can be; Mr. Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize! I learned very quickly how interested people were in this model during the activities fair when I was able to actually reach out to students and give them a quick education on what GLOBE was about and what exactly it entailed. Many students were more than happy to give their information as they were pleased with what we were doing. Creating awareness for changes we can make in the international community through such a small setting or venue made me realize- what if we had a larger venue? Would that mean larger fundraisers, with people who are willing to donate a larger quantity of money? It then dawned on me, it is not about the type of venue, and it’s about the attitude. The attitude of those who are marketing GLOBE, the type of people we want involved in society and in the class, along with the donors- who will use every opportunity to give a good word about what we are doing. We are not seeking to profit from this but are literally trying to help by using the perspective of a social business to raise the disenfranchised out of poverty- something, which I think speaks to a lot of people.
I am very excited to see how our finance team will meet the objectives set forth for the semester and I am more than confident that we will do our very best to achieve our goals. The class provides all the information necessary to make wise decisions regarding giving loans and managing those already in place. Utilizing all the tools available to us, we will definitely be able to continue upon the already established GLOBE’s history and leave our own legacy for future students to extend upon.
Log # 1
By: Nurus Salam
First day of the class, Dr. Sama asked, “What is poverty?” When I heard the question, it reminded me of my native country, Bangladesh. I remembered the little children that I used to see on the streets of Dhaka. Little children who were searching for food in garbage cans, or desperately extending their hands to office goers, who are impatiently waiting in traffic, for money. Most of these kids were underage, barely old enough to be out on the crowded streets of Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, by themselves. Though I was only a little child, I was still old enough to understand their suffering and their struggle for survival. When they should have been in school to build a bright future for themselves they were on the streets of Dhaka risking their lives to search for their next meal.
This is what came to my mind when I heard the word “poverty”, the suffering of the poor people in Bangladesh, a country where a large number of people are still living below the poverty line. It would always make me wonder if there is ever going to be an end to this cycle. As I was reading more and more about the poverty in Bangladesh in my 8th Grade English textbook, I read a story about Dr. Yunus and Grameen Bank, a bank that he founded decades earlier to provide micro-loan to people who are living in poverty. He has trusted the poor people in remote villages in Bangladesh, when the conventional banks refused to lend money to those poor people since they lacked adequate credit history.
What fascinated me the most was Grameen Bank’s focus on women, a demographic that had largely been ignored in a man dominated society. Women, who had mostly relied on men for financial support in Bangladesh, finally were able to break this cycle of dependency with the help of micro-loan institutions and through their entrepreneurial skills.
This gives me a hope of a better tomorrow. A better tomorrow that ensures the fundamental rights of education for every child, no matter how rich or poor their parents are. I strongly believe that, through micro-loan, one day, we will be able to solve the problem of poverty. As Dr. Muhammad Yunus said, “Poverty does not belong in civilized human society. Its proper place is in a museum. That's where it will be.”
Log # 1
By: Elaine Vasquez
For as long as I can remember, I have chased knowledge on topics that interest me like a predator chasing pray. I become obsessive in this quest, usually sitting for hours reading and learning until I feel somewhat knowledgeable in the subject. The topic that struck my interest late at night last Spring: social businesses. I read pages and pages of web results and at that moment decided I had to do whatever it takes, and apply as many times as it took, to be part of the GLOBE program.
Bringing opportunities for budding entrepreneurs is meaningful to me, because much like the women and families we’ve seen pictures of and read stories about, my mother and I were one of them. Before immigrating to the United States, my mother struggled to find a bank that will supply her with a loan to open up her business: a bakery. Most people called her crazy for even taking such a risk, but through her hard work, long hours, and a bit of luck she was able to build her business from the ground up. This bakery provided her with enough money to support us as a single parent and even allowed her to send me to a private school, since my education was her top priority. My aunt who uses the income to support her family is now running this large entrepreneurial risk that my mother took almost 20 years ago.
What I’ve learned from the service I’ve done in the United States, Panama and the Dominican Republic, is that charity is not the solution to poverty. Charity only perpetuates poverty and leaves the “poor” in the same never-ending cycle of poverty by robbing them of the opportunity to be self-sufficient. The way to lift people out of poverty is by taking the time to help them help themselves. I intend to do just that by implementing my goal of creating a social business in the Dominican Republic that will provide help fund my dream of creating an orphanage that sets up children to succeed rather than to fail.
Log # 2
By: Shelby Chambers
This week, my team was assigned “A Pilot Project Is Born” from Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus. In this chapter, Yunus talks about how he structured the Grameen Bank. When he first started, he did not know how to operate a bank therefore he had to start from scratch. What I found most interesting about this chapter was the group loans he implemented. In our first class, Dr. Sama mentioned the group loans to us but I didn’t realized how much of an impact the members of the group had on each other. I thought this was a unique way for Yunus to show the borrowers how to be responsible for the loans. It was also a great way to develop a community among the borrowers since most of them were women and could relate to each other’s struggles.
Our reading assignment was an example of how ethics plays a positive role in microfinance. The group loans empowered the women because they went through many struggles to obtain their loans. They had to build up the courage to ask for a loan first. Then from there they had to get over the fear of the responsibility and embrace the support of their group. With the group loans, Yunus also made sure that the women were putting some of the money away just in case something happened and they needed extra money to help them through a rough patch. The group could never give out more than half of what they saved to ensure there was always money there. Lastly, Yunus established a “center” where about eight groups in a village met weekly. At these weekly meetings, the women would bring their children so they could start understanding how their mothers were making a future for them.
There are many examples of how ethics produces good outcomes but there are also times when ethics produces unpleasant outcomes. In “The Stool Makers of Jobra” from Banker to the Poor, Yunus talks about how the moneylenders charge usurious interest rates to those who borrow from them. Yunus says, “Usurious rates have become so standardized and socially acceptable in Third World countries that the borrower rarely realizes how oppressive a contract is.”. Once someone decides to borrow money from a moneylender, they get themselves into so much debt that they can’t get themselves out of it. This is just one example of how microfinance falls short at times. I know that our program is one that displays good ethics in all that we do and I hope to continue to spread the word about what we are doing in order to prevent borrowers from getting their selves in a bad situation.
Log # 2
By: Sammi Sy
I was so glad having previous GLOBE managers come to our class this week and shared their experiences on how they succeed in this class. It was nice meeting them, particularly for those who were students of 2009 and 2010 GLOBE classes. They amazed me with their earnestness and dedication to GLOBE. It was already two years since then, but their enthusiasm made me feel how united they were. Once you are a GLOBE manager, you are a forever GLOBE manager. The mission of GLOBE will not just stop at the point when the class ends because our passion to make a difference will never die and it will pass on and on.
This was a really great opportunity for us to have a better picture on what is actually expected from us. The previous finance team had shared a lot about their entire progress over the semester and how bits and pieces were put together to create loan applications, assess risks and determine repayment terms, which all goes hand-in-hand with one another. Indeed, their suggestions were very useful in terms of practicality. Getting their advice had definitely relieved my stress a lot, and I began to feel that I shouldn’t have placed too much of a burden on myself; I do not have an obligation to change the world, but just to do the best I can, even if it only brings a little difference in an individual’s life, so we might have to make some amendments on our objectives as setting up realistic goals is way more important than having a bunch of goals that are unachievable.
Another decision point for this week was to determine the topic of the group paper, and eventually, we have decided to go with a social business plan about promoting energy saving in a potential remote area. Details will be discussed once we have familiarized ourselves with alternative energy solutions and demand of the area etc. I actually get really excited with it, particularly after attending the information session on developing a business plan. In fact, I was asked to write up a business plan last semester, but it was only a 3-page paper; so basically it was impossible to get out there in the real business world. However, it’s going to be a totally different story for the one that we’ll work on. I’ll consider this as a “real” business plan because we’re doing it as if we’re going to implement it afterwards. One thing that the speaker mentioned was that it would be favorable to work as a team with each teammate having a different concentration. A team of three accountants may have wonderful financial statements, yet, they may mess up the marketing part, so our team definitely has advantage over it since we’ve got management, risk management, government and accounting majors. With each of us complementing one another, I’m confident that we can work our way out of challenges and create a business plan that belong to us.
Log # 2
By: Xixi Liu
“Microcredit is a programme for putting homelessness and destitution in a museum, so that one day our children will visit it and ask how we could have allowed such a terrible thing to go on for so long.”
This was one of the first quotes by Muhammad Yunus that I learned about in GLOBE. Yunus has always been an advocate for poverty reduction. I agree with Yunus, that charity is not a real answer to poverty. Charity would only take away a person’s initiative to break through the poverty cycle. It would create a dependency, whereas loans would offer them opportunities to prosper. Thus, in 1983 Yunus established the Grameen Bank (Village Bank) in Bangladesh.
Grameen Bank is a community bank that offers small loans to the impoverished. Traditional banks didn’t want to take a high repayment risk, that’s why they weren’t interested in even giving tiny loans at a reasonable interest rate to the poor. But Yunus believed that the poor had under-utilized skills and all they needed was a chance to use those skills. The objective of the bank was to promote financial independence. As we have mentioned in class, even the lower class has classifications within it. The bank focuses its targets on the poorest of poor, placing a special emphasis on women. It gives out tiny loans to help borrowers start a business and encourages borrowers to become future savings account customers so that their capital can be used for new loans.
Over the years Grameen Bank has expanded and diversified. By 2006, its branches had been numbered over 2,100. In 2006, Grameen Bank and Muhammad Yunus also received the Nobel Peace prize for creating social and economic developments. And over 40 countries have been inspired to finance microfinance projects similar to Grameen Bank.
Muhammad Yunus showed that even though everything began with only an idea, it could prosper and become a successful enterprise. He went through at lot of struggles to put his plans into action but to him it was all worth it in the end. He had created a dream and a possibility for people all over the nation.
And it’s rare and fortunate that I, as a GLOBE student manager, am also offered the opportunity to not merely talk and think but actually do.
Log # 2
By: Moneifa Nance
As I read through the pages of the tenth chapter of “Creating a World Without Poverty”, I could not help but turn my attention away from microfinance and towards the effects of global warming in the world of poverty. As we are distracted by our fancy technology and luxurious lifestyles, environmental damage is rapidly multiplying. In this chapter, Yunus drew light to the devastating effects global warming can have on nations that are already in poverty. Most nations that are in dire need such as Bangladesh or even Haiti do not have the infrastructure to withstand natural disasters that can be caused by this global warming. Yunus discusses scientific facts that reveal alarming rates of global temperature increase. This chapter made me wish that there was more being done to promote awareness about Environmental Stewardship. So much awareness that would make consumers think twice about the products they want to purchase.
Today in class, we received an opportunity to reflect on the effectiveness and the ethics of microfinance. While there are many that argue against microfinance, I personally believe that the good exponentially outweighs the bad. People must understand that Microfinance is not a tool that will end poverty across the board. Instead, Microfinance should be viewed as a tool that alleviates poverty one borrower at a time. It is understood that microfinance comes with some cons such as high interest rates and lack of regulation however, we should not disregard the good it has done and the potential growth for the industry. In our own GLOBE Microloan program, we are experiencing loan defaults on one hand, and empowering woman such as Blessing Sunday and helping their families rise out of poverty on the other. Of course not collecting payments from the loans we’ve previously issued is a bad thing, but making a family of five sustainable from just one loan is amazing. There’s potential for entrepreneurs to receive long-term benefits from a single loan. When they establish their business and it is doing well, they will be able to send their children to school and the benefit continues to trickle down.
Log # 3
By: Sally Ren
Each week in class we have lectures and each lecture there are different topics to be covered. How the class works is we have different teams that work on the main objective, which is to improve and further advance the GLOBE initiative. Then we have class where we learn about the different aspects of microfinance in hopes that we get inspired and we can incorporate what we have learned to our group tasks. This week the topic discussed was on ethics.
In all of my business classes there have been discussions about ethics. Ethics is something that is very important not just for businesses but also for life. Ethics should be essential for a not for profit company. However most of the time human nature gets in the way and greed takes over.
In the case of microfinance the balance of ethics is thrown off when the banks charge high interest or activities that we would consider suspicious especially when it comes to the poor. The reason why the banks might get away with this is because the people whom are in poverty still need that money. Now this creates a huge issue because people will see that as something negative that is a result of microfinance. This sometimes will weigh more in the minds of the people than all the positives that come from microfinance.
I think for Dr. Sama to give this lecture was very important because as students we should be exposed to all different angles of microfinance. Also personally for myself, I understand why anyone would have negative thoughts of microfinance after this lecture. Prior to this class I knew that microfinance would help the poor by giving them small loans with which they could start their business. But like everything else, nothing is perfect. So those individuals or organizations that take advantage of the poor exist because they do exactly what Muhammad Yunus says “The concept of socially responsible business is built on good intentions. But some corporate leaders misuse the concept to produce selfish benefits for their companies. Their philosophy: Make as much money as you can, even if you exploit the poor to do so – but then donate a tiny portion of the profits for social causes or create a foundation to do things that will promote your business interest. And then be sure to publicize how generous you are!” This is very true and equally upsetting. Poor ethics happen because regulations of certain areas are limited. How can you control corrupt business when the government for example is corrupt?
Issues would be solved if people weren’t selfish and could visualize the bigger picture. In this case tons of people would be eradicated from poverty. To the people who are not directly involved a solution is often time easily seen but the challenge is the journey to get there.
Log # 3
By: Daniel O’Boyle
The class this week discussed a topic, which to this point I was not aware existed in the realm of microfinance. We discussed the ethics of microfinance, and whether the industry on the whole was helping or hindering poverty relief. Prior to this class, I would have never questioned the fact that microfinance is helpful in relieving poverty.
I am still relatively new to microfinance, but thus far, I had heard nothing but good things. I thought that I was a part of something that was universally guaranteed to help those living in poverty. Therefore, I was immediately concerned and interested in hearing how people could possibly claim negative effects of the work of microfinance. This lecture was a good way to help remove the “rose colored glasses” with which I had been viewing microfinance.
I have now learned that there are those who express concerns with the way that microfinance is structured. I have also discovered that I may in fact agree in part with some of these concerns. It is important to keep in mind that the leaders in microfinance have never expressed the belief that the emerging industry is the sole panacea for the problems of all of the impoverished peoples of the world. One of the leading arguments that microfinance is not the ultimate solution to help people move out of poverty is the idea that microfinance only helps the “well-off poor.” The foundation for this belief is that it only benefits those with education and access to certain resources. At first glance, this may make sense because most of these loans are used to start businesses. When I hear the phrase “start a business,” before this class, I would have imagined all of the complexities and costs that could be encountered with starting a Fortune 500 multinational corporation. It turns out that many of our borrowers have a more realistic approach to building businesses than I do. Many of the best microfinance endeavors have been when the borrower was an artisan or a baker. These are businesses that require more passion and dedication than conventional education. In addition, many MFIs provide some sort of training to their borrowers, which will help their business be better equipped to succeed and pay their loans back.
Microfinance is designed to help those that want to help themselves. It is not simply a handout, rather it is an opportunity.
The discovery of problems in microfinance has been an essential part in leading me to form and maintain a well-informed opinion on microfinance. I would not be able to play an effective role in the industry if I neglected to acknowledge troubles and focused solely on the positive work that can be accomplished through microfinance. These problems have done the opposite of discouraging me. I am now more eager to help improve the perception of microfinance, as well as the actions of the MFIS.
Log # 3
By: Tiffany Yeung
This week in GLOBE we learned about the Jamii Bora Bank. The Jamii Bora Bank is a commercial bank located in Kenya, it is the largest microfinance institution in Kenya. The word Jamii Bora translates to good families in Swahili. The mission of the Jamii Bora Bank is to assist their members out of poverty and build a better life for themselves and their families. The Jamii Bora Bank relates closely to what we stand for in GLOBE. What makes the Jamii Bora Bank unique is the way they give out their loans. In order to receive a loan from the Jamii Bora Bank, a borrower must first save up half the amount that they want to borrow. By doing so, borrowers learn how to save/conserve money and become more self-sufficient. This is a great way for Jamii Bora to decrease their default rates since the borrowers already have some money saved up that they could use to pay back.
After learning about the Jamii Bora Bank, professor Sama showed us a video of a woman named Joyce who benefited from the Jamii Bora Bank. Before borrowing money from the Jamii Bora Bank Joyce was living in poverty and had close to nothing to her name. With the help of Jamii Bora Joyce was able to open her own restaurant, employ 62 people, feed those less fortunate in her community, and became an inspiration to others. One thing that really stuck out to me was when Dr. Sama said that Joyce considered herself wealthy. Although she is not wealthy in our eyes or in our country, she considers herself wealthy compared to those around her and what she used to have. It made me reconsider what the word wealthy really meant to me and society as a whole. As Americans we take so much that we have for granted. If we are not living extravagantly or over the top we are not considered “wealthy”, but people like Joyce who are so humble have a much deeper appreciation for life and what she has even if it’s minimalistic to us. After hearing about Joyce’s inspirational story it made me rethink how privileged I am to have an education and an opportunity to make something of myself. I know that Joyce’s story will be one of the many inspirational stories I learn about in GLOBE. I hope that I will have the opportunity to help someone in need like Joyce in the future so that their story can be an inspiration to someone else.
Log # 3
By: Patrick Diamitani
A very inspiring professor told me recently that if I combined time management with organization, it could bode well for me with my potential. I greatly appreciated that and it has since led me to think about a quote that has been reoccurring more and more within my collective life theme: “luck=preparation + opportunity.” Keeping the emphasis on preparation, but not forgetting the opportunity, it then brings me again to a quote one of my uncle’s mentioned at a family function: “a true business man will see an opportunity and take it without needing prompting.” All of these attributes and scenarios; preparation, time management, opportunity, organization; they occur when someone has the focus of mind to take words of wisdom such as this and apply it to their lives.
But not everyone has this luxury. You’re 31 years old, but you feel like 50. You have 3 kids and you should’ve had a 4th but he died from what should’ve been a treatable ailment. You live with no water, little food and a makeshift property that’s half mud, half stone, and worth less money than a midwestern farmer’s pigpen. You live in the worst of poverty, you have no clear vision of hope, let alone opportunity, and it takes all of your energy to not give up hope and die. Where is the “luck” there? Or has it abandoned the love for our pleading brother and instead took up vacation with our “classier” friends out west? Does the world and all of it’s advantages find no mercy for those who live barely above dirt, only to go back 6 feet below? Do our politics and our fancy words condemning the use of our country’s money to help prevent a death on a plot of land a further distance away from your own blind us from seeing the distraught eyes and the faces yearning for hope? Does the greed of man evoke so powerful a presence in the men and women whose nations need charity the most that only an ironical fate would serve the reality of those who are victimized by the authorities that can break down the veils of oppression? Or maybe, we do want to help, men and women, boys and girls, dictators, presidents and assemblypersons. But maybe, just maybe, the real problem is not our lack of caring, our self-righteousness or our corrupt governments; maybe, the true issue is that we’ve come to think of poverty as an academic issue. We’ve distanced ourselves with the “burden” of easing it’s pain and we’ve thrown ourselves into the midst of small donations of time or money that doesn’t inconvenience ourselves when all a person living in poverty really needs is a foundation to build on, relief from their debts, the weight and pressure of food, shelter and health for their families lifting on their shoulders, a kind smile, a motivational nudge but most of all guidance and structure to embark on a path they have never dreamed of going on, a life, where they are free. A life where they are like you and me.
I think that we make poverty too textbook. I think the real solution is to take every instance of poverty as it is, a case-by-case scenario, which can be helped by our knowledge, experiences and even mistakes. But most importantly, with our love to delve our whole lives into the efforts, knowing that the person next to us has the heart to do the same if we’re brave enough to take the next step. I’ll make no mistake, I’m not that man of shining courage embracing the journey of truly finding a world without poverty, full of joy, peace, acceptance and forgiveness (because the last two will be the only ways we can truly erase poverty, unleash stereotypes, put down our weapons and anger and come together), but maybe, just maybe, if I pray long and hard about it, I’ll dip my toe in the water, and that will make the world jump in.
That’s my log, so good night. When you’re head hits the pillow, be grateful.
Log # 4
By: Shawn Chowdhury
When I think about poverty I think of millions of people around the globe who go days without food. Although I have a vague idea of the problems of poverty, I do not understand what actually goes on in the life of an impoverished human being. In classes like GLOBE or Ethics, when discussing distribution of wealth, I think of the people, rich and poor, as hypothetical people. The idea of extreme poverty is so foreign to me that it is hard for me understand the problems that a poor man in any developing country faces. Fortunately, my view of the impoverished struggle changed when Peter Kimeu spoke about his personal experiences growing up in Kenya.
Mr. Kimeu, an energetic African man, come up to the podium and repeated the phrase “God is good.” Although his narrative started off on an optimistic note, his story soon became a little more somber. Mr. Kimeu recalled a time when he and his family had not eaten for 4 days. His mother, who did not have any food available, told a white lie to scare his siblings into going to bed without food. Since Mr. Kimeu was older and wise enough to see through the ruse, he asked his mother when they would actually be getting food. His mother told him to put a finger in his mouth and swallow the excess saliva that his mouth would produce.
For me, this anecdote put a face and a story on poverty. After listening to Mr. Kimeu my personification of poverty became a little more personal. Instead of the faceless sea of emaciated African, South American and Asian people, I was able to focus on one man and his account with hunger. Instead of hearing about generally starving people, I was able to take in Mr. Kimeu’s tale of everyday life, and meditate on the implications of poverty. I am truly grateful for the presentation that Mr. Kimeu gave. His insight shed light on a situation that was previously hypothetical for me. I hope that St. John’s will have more speakers like this, that our GLOBE class could have a chance to visit.
Log # 4
By: John Marchi
When I drive home to Staten Island along the belt parkway, there is a woman who is always standing on the service road, selling flowers and bottled water. I have never really given her any thought, with the exception of occasionally making eye contact. After last weeks class though, I realized she is a micro-entrepreneur trying to make ends meet. The different economies of scale between the United States and many of the third world countries where GLOBE has operations is huge, and exemplifies how microfinance has a converse relationship to the economic condition of the country. In the countries such as Vietnam or the Congo, it is a tool for people to break out of the poverty cycle. In countries in the United States where the cost of living is so high, it is a tool to assist you in trying to make ends meet.
Tonight, in lieu of a formal lecture, we attended dinner as a class with Peter Kimeu, the Regional Technical Advisor for Catholic Relief Services in Kenya. Peter shared with us first hand experiences of the living conditions that people in Kenya face, similar to the conditions in which our GLOBE loan borrows live in. I realized that we have the same mission and are all compassionate people who are dedicated to making change in the world, and we all have to start somewhere. For the GLOBE managers, this is the start of our journey. We are taking the skills learned in our GLOBE class, and applying them to charity and justice, that is, helping individuals meet present needs, while providing them with the tools to correct long term problems in the communities, as well as break the poverty cycle.
People need to be part of the process, and one legacy the finance team wants to leave the future managers of GLOBE with is a business plan that they can use in conjunction with borrowers in the field, to use alternative energy solutions to break the poverty cycle.
These communities plagued with poverty maintain hope, hope that one day, they will live better lives, hope that someone will come to the rescue. As GLOBE managers, we are that person, and I am extremely motivated after this lecture to follow up on current loans, as well as read through applications for new loans.
Log # 4
By: Claire Cilento
I am happy to report that the Marketing Team decided on and ordered our promotional item this past week! It’s great to see things starting to come together and even though we have a lot of work ahead it is still satisfying to get some of our objectives checked off our list. With the help of Sally who is on the Accounting team (just proving further how even though we are all assigned to different teams, we depend on the help and creativity of each other), we decided that our promotional item would be GLOBE reusable tote bags. It took us a while to settle on an item, and believe me, we went through many options! We wanted something that would be useful so that people would want to buy it, but of course we also had to think about our budget. We also think it’s good that the item is something that encourages environmentally responsible behavior, particularly after we read about the dangers of global warming and its contribution to poverty in Yunus’ “Creating a World Without Poverty” last week.
In this past week’s class, we watched a video about KIVA, a company that brings the idea of micro lending to the world of the Internet. I had never heard of KIVA before this class, and in fact, I had not heard much about social businesses in general. Our reading for the week in chapter 8 in “Creating a World Without Poverty” discusses further this idea of having a business that works for social change. In it, Yunus claims his belief that it is a failure of our economic system that it does not accommodate the human desire to have these kinds of businesses. He reminds us that not all humans are simply profit-motivated, but they may instead be searching for some kind of social, and not monetary, goals. With the economy the state that it’s in, I sometimes feel that all I hear from people who find out that I’m graduating in January is tips on finding a job that makes a lot of money. Many people I know were guided to pick certain majors just because they felt it was a degree that could get them one of few high paying jobs in this economy. Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting to earn money to live a nice lifestyle, and following the right career path to do so. I just think it is interesting that not as many people talk about finding a business where you can work to help right the wrongs of the world. Yunus gives hope to the idea of being able to combine the idea of business with the desires we have to make some kind of difference in the world. This chapter, as well as learning about KIVA, has really encouraged me to start researching and thinking about different career paths that could help me to do this.
Log # 4
By: James Vanie
After hearing Mr. Peter Kimeu’s story today, I must say that I am humbled and inspired to say the least. During the brief discussion in class after the event, I shared the same general feeling as the others in the class – we were all emotionally moved. Since I started studying more about aid assistance in developing countries, I have become cynical to an extent - regarding humans as numbers or statistics and evaluating developing countries for growth opportunities and emerging markets. Granted, it is all a genuine effort in my small steps toward alleviating global poverty. But I dropped something important along the way. I realized today, more than ever, that charity is necessary AND it is ok.
Mr. Kimeu pulled me away me from the social business perspective that I had become so familiar with. He took me back to the point in time when I decided to pursue a life dedicated to helping people. It was during my time in Haiti that I had no business knowledge and was exposed to death, hunger, and extreme poverty. I feel like that passion slowly dwindled and it was replaced by a social business theory. I could compare it to that disconnect that some people have who eat meat, but never consider that their meal was actually living at a time.
I have ambitions of starting a non-for profit within a social enterprise corporation. For my “Solitary Promise,” I will search for innovative ways to raise money to support my cause and raise awareness during my time in college. I will also think about ways to share the voice of those who have benefited and excelled due to charity. I believe that Western people would receive a great amount of satisfaction from giving if they were able to hear a success story from the distant recipient in their developing country.
Log # 5
By Daniel Crean
At times throughout the course, the distinction between handouts and hand ups has been broached, and the morality of microfinance has been examined. When dealing with the poorest of small business owners, it is natural to question the moral unassailability of micro lending. Why do we ask the impoverished to pay us back? Why don’t we simply gift this money to budding entrepreneurs? Wouldn’t grants be more helpful than loans? While from some view points, asking poor borrowers to pay back loans may seem extreme, I am of the belief that it is ultimately beneficial for the individual to take a loan rather than simply receive money as a gift. This gives the entrepreneur an opportunity to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Transforming a loan into a successful business must be one of the most rewarding feelings, both leaving the borrowers dignity intact and ensuring sustainable income for themselves in the years to follow. Along the way, the borrower has also learned a valuable lesson in fiscal responsibility, their dedication to repaying the loan is good training for any future business they may conduct.
This is not to say that accepting a gift is in any way contemptible. Given the situation that these people are in, anything they need to do to survive is understandable. However, the point I would like to emphasize about micro lending is the sustainability and recyclability of the loan itself. For instance, if a borrower was to accept a loan of $300, when they repay their loan, that money can be reissued to another person in need. Also, in order to repay their loan they must have generated at least $300 in income throughout the year. If that same person was to simply accept a gift of $300, if they were to spend only one dollar of it a day they would still exhaust their resources within the year. To support an individual purely on donations requires perpetual payments. However, those entrepreneurs who borrow money begin to have the ability to support themselves. The act of repayment places an incentive on those borrowers to generate more income as they work towards supporting themselves. After this process, the borrower can either take another loan, or if their business has become sustainable they may not need it, which would free up the funds to be lent to another borrower in need. In this way, the loans can be redistributed after they come to term and are repaid.
There are a lot of positive moral components to micro lending, in what it does for the borrowers and their communities. The borrower learns about credit and saving, while the credit grants them access to transforming their own financial situation. The work they do as entrepreneurs can improve their own communities as well. Furthermore, loans are sustainable when they are paid back. Essentially, micro lending allows borrowers to sustainably improve their lives on their own merit, improve their communities.
Log # 5
By Nattalia Balkaran
After completing the midterm progress report, I must say, I did not realize all the things we’ve been trying to accomplish. I feel confident that our team will be able to make a fundamental difference this semester. We all have different talents and passions within the work that we have to do. I am super excited about Peru! I think most of the challenges we face with the loans issued in the African regions will not be of concern in South America. We have a great location. There is no doubt in my mind that our borrowers will be able to repay their loans. The conditions are perfect to issue loans. They have a need, they have a great tourist industry, and the infrastructure is already in place. Also, because these people are remnants from the Incan Empire, profitability will be large. They are literally part of ancient history. Therefore, the goods that they sell will be able to reap a significant profit!
Our business plan idea is becoming more realistic as we continue to move forward which is a plus. Placing the solar charger in an area where cell phones and electronics play a vital role in communication with the business of our entrepreneurs is huge! The development of this social business plan is exciting and daunting at the same time, more –so on the anxious side, just to see how it will turn out. I think we can make a significant difference and because our team is so passionate about making this business work, the thought of it happening is even more tangible.
Overall, I think we are on the right track, we are doing the things necessary in order to promote GLOBE through every venue we can. Holistically, all of us are participating and trying to make our organization stronger and better through the social media. After witnessing what the other teams are doing, our bases are covered. The finer details just need to be ironed out, in regards to finance and risk management’s case, can easily be done once we speak with the daughters in the region.
Log # 5
By Deven Lall
This has been the busiest week thus far, for every team. This past Monday, we held our first information session and bake sale. We had a good turnout for the information session and we sold around $120 in baked goods. We were a little disappointed at first with what we made but then we received an email from Dr. Sama. The email said that the proceeds from the bake sale may be the beginning to our first loan that builds a house. We, as students, can give someone the opportunity to make a home for themselves. I have volunteered for helping people learn English, soup kitchens, and animal shelters. I felt good after volunteering for those activities, but after hearing that we could possibly give someone a home, was a feeling far beyond what I have ever felt before in this sense. It was emotionally over whelming, the fact that we can give someone the comfort of a home. It’s moments like these that the realization of what you’re really doing and why you’re doing it. All of us, as a class can give someone whom would not have the opportunity otherwise the feeling, “There’s no place like home”.
Now today, we had our mid-term presentations to present to the class. We were going to find out where all of the teams were in accordance with their goals and how we were going to make the first GLOBE loan to build a house come into fruition. We, the Marketing and Fundraising team, gave our presentation and sighed of relief when we were finished. We spoke about the events we have done so far, the events to come, and how we are going to prepare for them. The meeting with James Monnier and Tom Fike of Institutional Advancement gave us a greater understanding for handling events.Then our Finance and Risk Assessment team really inspired me with how far along they’ve come, their ideas soon to be implemented and their social business plan idea. I believe the idea of doing risk assessment before lending will be instrumental with loan repayments. Their social business idea was also very interesting (don’t want to mention anything else about their plan!) and I think has a lot of potential. Especially because they picked Nigeria, the country with the highest repayment history when it comes to GLOBE borrowers. Their choices were strategic and their past decisions have been implemented well. Then Technology and Communications took the floor. They have also come along way with our social media sites. They have gained more followers, spread awareness about GLOBE and have also started using another social platform to promote the class. The Accounting and Program Audit Team changed the way they rate our performances as a team and are using the advice the class before us has passed on to them. All and all, our class is now on schedule, on the same page, and we all now have a deeper understanding of the goal we are working towards.
Log # 5
By Patrick Diamitani
Microfinance exists in places we may have never imagined. This past Sunday I ate lunch outside of a local Queens’ Italian restaurant with a close friend of mine. We discussed many things, but one of the topics that particularly left it’s impression was a statement made about his mother. “ My mom would put away around $100 a month…with a lot of other people…the pool of money would be $5,000….and my mom would use the money to make investments in certain projects….my mom makes $17,000 a year Patrick, how else did you think we would survive?” If what I just wrote sounds familiar to you, it depicts the same kind of money service that occurs within ROSCA’s in third world countries. Many “borrowers” would put away a sum of money every month to create a pool, which would rotate among the borrowers. When the pool landed on the borrower, they were free to use the money for whatever need they had and even to waste it. Apparently, this same system exists in America today; not by way of illegal crime Kingpins who partake in loan sharking, but through an integrate trust of women who do what is practical: set money aside and use the pool of money to help them build a better future. And a better future she did build: my friend’s mother made $17,000 a year (and probably less earlier on), however she owns her own home and has several properties which she rents out. She is a classic example of a woman who was able to take what was given to her and multiply the fruits of her labor- not through a pay increase in her job, but through the complex yet simple workings of microfinance. Each day I partake in the class I become a believer. It’s amazing that such a phenomenal occurrence could happen so close to me. The benefits of microfinance in the life of my friend’s mother transcended not just to material goods, but in the form of important life lessons as well. My friend learned a great wealth in regards to the value of money through his mother and was able to make some incredibly wise business decisions early on in his life, amassing a fortune of over $200,000 before he even left high school and purchasing another home for his mother in the Dominican Republic. He drives a Cadillac Escalade and, as he did on this day, pays for his friend’s lunches, not because they don’t insist, but because he truly cares. “They print money every day,” he tells me, “all you need to do is go get it.” Now obviously this isn’t as easy as it sounds for most, but my point is, microfinance has truly helped shape a very important aspect my friend’s life, and chances are he’s never even heard of the term. Whodathunkit.
Log # 6
By Shelby Chambers
Tonight our speaker, Dr. Barrett P. Brenton, spoke to us about Geographic Information Systems. GIS is an intergraded system using hardware, software, and data capturing for, analyzing, managing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information. In his presentation, he went into depth about the many ways you can use the GIS maps. He referred to them as “smart maps” because they are capable of giving you much more information than a regular map. I believe a way the Accounting Team could implement the GIS maps is to research different enterprises. With these maps we could see what kinds of businesses could prosper in each country. From there we could give this information to the Daughters of Charity so when they are having meeting with potential borrowers they can know what to do with the money they will be receiving. Also with the GIS maps we could tell the borrowers the best routes they can take in order to make their business work if they have to travel to a market place. There are so many opportunities for the borrowers with the GIS maps. They are a great way to measure what is going on in the area with the roads they have available, the amount of resources they have, and how the borrowers can utilize the recourses.
The second part of the class today we talked about how social entrepreneurs can use their brilliant ideas to change the world. These social entrepreneurs have theses brilliant ideas and they just need a way to get across to the people they are helping. A couple weeks ago, we read chapter 12 in the David Bornstein book, which talked about how the entrepreneurs could take different routes in order to achieve social excellences. Some of the different approaches he listed were giving control to the children in the community, giving different a prospective about how to approach the situation, and getting the citizens, government, and business sectors involved. I believe once the social entrepreneurs are involved in one of these initiatives they will be able to deliver the results they need to get change in the environment they are in. A way the Accounting Team can implement one of these initiatives is to give the children complete control of how they want the programs to be ran. The children are the ones who will be able to implement this project and make a better future for themselves. Once they have a focus, they can rely on themselves to become successful entrepreneurs themselves and help themselves.
Log # 6
By John Marchi
This past week, I was reading for theology and came across this quote Nelson Mandela once said: “we must use time creatively, and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.” I immediately thought of GLOBE because of the limited time we have to set out to accomplish so much. That made me think however, it is quality over quantity, and that GLOBE is a continuing project beyond the semester’s end, where each team picks up where you left off. If something is worth doing, it is worth overdoing. As a member of the Finance and Risk Assessment Team, our primary responsibility is to track and come up with solutions to improve loan performance, mitigate risk, and also issue new loans. Currently, GLOBE operates in 4 countries in 2 regions- being Africa and the South Pacific. If we are going to track loans, we need to do it right. We met in practicum today to discuss the questions we came up with and essentially decided to go back to square one. In doing so however, we realized what we needed was very vanilla and quite frankly, right in front of us. Although it is important to find out external factors to loan performance, we must first just identify the loan performance, by simply asking the Daughters in the field questions about the loan itself and the borrower. From those answers, the finance team can derive further information.
In class, we learned about geographic information systems (GIS). This is a powerful tool that is used by analysts that utilizes geographic data and enables the user to add layers of information. Such information could be mortality rates, economic performance, and so fourth. It is user driven and could essentially be molded however the MFI needs. We could GIS to depict loan performance globally by using an algorithm that utilizes data received from the field and create a map layer over the region. Different icons could then depict difference performance categories.
The finance team read up on the importance of a founder to the social business. In the case of GLOBE, our founder is our fearless leader, Dr. Sama; but also, each semester’s managers, and the part they play in transitioning the following semesters managers. In the end, GLOBE will only be as successful as the managers, and the projects we initiate this semester will only be as successful as the managers in the future make it. GLOBE is more than a course; it is a family of borrowers, lenders and managers, with one common ideal: micro-entrepreneurship.
Log # 6
By Tiffany Yeung
For this weeks reading presentation my group is in charge of presenting chapter 8 of Creating a World Without Poverty Social Business and the Future of Capitalism by Muhammad Yunus. I learned that Yunus was always interested in social consciousness driven enterprises and creating for-profit and non-for-profit companies with very clear social objectives. Yunus does not do this for personal gain but rather for the social purpose that creating a business enterprise will bring. I also learned that social businesses are self-sustaining companies just like profit maximizing businesses, so commercial lenders will have no difficulty in funding them, and they will benefit from the good publicity it will bring them.
Before reading this, I had no idea that 4 Grameen companies became the social investors and created Grameen Health Trust and Grameen Health Services to administer the Eye care Hospital series. In the reading, it talks about Tom Bevan and Milla Junde, the founders of the music group Green Children. Milla and Tom became intrigued by the idea of social businesses after they visited Grameen Bank back in 2006. They fell in love with the people of Bangladesh and even wrote a song “Hear Me Now” which is about a Grameen Bank borrower they had spent time with while in a Bangladeshi village. Milla funded the first Eye care Hospital and she and Tom contributed the entire sale proceeds of the music video “Hear Me Now” to build more Eye care hospitals. I thought this story was very inspirational. This couple that had no idea what a social business was or how it worked made such huge contributions for the betterment of the future. It was moving to discover that they instantly fell in love with the Bangladeshi people and became such enormous advocates of social business. Yunus is convinced that young people will be excited about social business and the potential it has to transform the world however there are some complications. One is that people are only motivated by money, not by the desire to do good things for the world. The other problem is that we are lacking the enabling social and economic structure that will make social businesses possible. I believe that social businesses will benefit the poor and enable them to express their gift for entrepreneurship but we have to find a way to put down the doubts and face the obstacles that come with social businesses in order for it to be successful.
Log # 6
By Elaine Vasquez
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
- George Bernard Shaw
As we discussed the makings of a social entrepreneur and the role of social entrepreneurship, the biggest difference that stuck out to me was the passion of social mission. I am a firm believer that passion should be at the heart of every great social movement and without such passion; it is quite easy to give up. The biggest difference between a social business and a regular business however, is the ethics. Social businesses are purely motivated with their sense of mission in mind and find themselves fully accountable, a characteristic that is often missing in the corporate world. Social change requires new innovation and ideas that corporate interests cannot solve.
As the Information Technology and Communications team it is our responsibility to inform our fellow students, the future of the business world, about this new business paradigm. Students need to know that there are other business options; that not every business needs to be run with only profit margins in mind. I truly believe that the only thing stopping the wide spread expansion of social business is a lack of understanding and education about this relatively new form of business. If our next generation of business leaders are well versed in the option of being able to carry out their entrepreneurial spirit while still keeping their drive to promote social change, many, if not most, will choose to pursue social entrepreneurship.
Log # 7
By: Shawn Chowdhury
Poverty mapping is something that I’ve heard of before but have never really looked into. Today Dr. Brenton, a professor of anthropology, helped shed some light on the subject of poverty mapping. Dr. Brenton, who received his PhD in nutritional anthropology from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, gave a lecture on utilizing mapping tools. In the lecture he gave different features of Google Earth as well as other free map services that could be used to augment maps to convey some sort of message.
The presentation he gave was very insightful; Dr. Brenton showed the class how maps can be linked to data to augmented maps and help express different situations. In his presentation, he showed us how the average amount of money women receive was different from the empowerment of women. The maps use different indicators that are relevant to each situation.
These maps could be used as a visual aide to help teams find which areas are most likely to be helped. Using key indicators will show what areas are most likely to cooperate and benefit from micro financing. The accounting and finance team can most definitely benefit from using these new tools because of the obvious application of finding new regions to work with and seeing what resources are available. The marketing and technology team can also benefit from this information by using the maps as visual presentation of how bad poverty is in some areas of the world.
Log # 7
By: Nattalia Balkaran
This week has been trialing as we experienced Hurricane Sandy. As a group of students who are trying our best to make a difference in the lives of others in third world countries it was especially gripping for GLOBE to continue onwards with our efforts. With tragedy at home, it is difficult to think about others; out of sight, out of mind. Witnessing the scramble for resources and people waiting for help is heart wrenching because we live in a first world country. We have become so accustomed to things being provided to us at ease that when something as tragic as this occurs, survival seems impossible. It made me realize, what do the people do in countries that are poverty stricken and have ineffective governments? How do they manage? We are very lucky to be able to know that our country has methods and ways of providing relief to those who are suffering, with a population and community that are willing to donate their time. In other countries, that is not the case.
As GLOBE managers, we have to continue to seek out the people who need the most. With loans in regions such as Vietnam, a country that is not a stranger to natural disasters, at least our help would make a difference in that type of situation. Our loans are to empower individuals, to bring relief into their lives and to hopefully sustain them for the rest of their time on earth. It is to end the cycle of poverty, to have their children be educated and to be better off than they were; just as Peter Kimeu managed to do because of the help he received from others. What we can do today will benefit the lives of many others in the future. Our little loans can help make a change in the countries as generations continue to build upon one another. As time progresses, the little baker’s great grandchildren will be politicians, doctors and lawyers who will change the scope of the state. Even if this will take years to happen, there will be a day when that country will be able to provide for their citizens. Supporters of GLOBE can think of their contributions as the “future forward payment.”
Log # 7
By: Nurus Salam
For this week’s reading summary, the Marketing team was assigned Martin Osberg’s article “Social Entrepreneurship”. Before reading this article, I had watched a video about KIVA, a microfinance organization that allows people to lend money via Internet to people in developing countries, in class. Though we have talked about the social entrepreneurship in detail during class, this article pointed out the differences between social entrepreneurship and for-profit entrepreneurship.
In distinguishing the social entrepreneurship from for-profit entrepreneurship, the author mentions “the social entrepreneur’s value proposition targets an underserved, neglected, or highly disadvantaged population that lacks the financial means or political clout to achieve the transformative benefit on its own.” After reading Dr. Yunus’ book Banker to the Poor , it was really simple to understand why Martin Osberg mentioned that Social entrepreneurs choose to lend money to people that are not recognized by our traditional banking system, as if they do not exist.
Dr. Yunus, the pioneer of social entrepreneurship, showed the world that people with no financial history also could be trusted as evidenced by the borrowers of Grameen Bank, who have a very high loan repayment rate. Dr. Yunus’ decision to provide loan to neglected or as traditional bank would call undeserved people, not only proved to be a successful one, it was an innovative thinking as well. People in our society often think that small amount of money cannot make any difference; however, by starting up their own businesses. Grameen Bank borrowers, through micro-finance, were able to lift themselves up from poverty. This shows that how important it is to have the courage and creative thinking in social entrepreneurship.
As for our outside class activity, the GLOBE class was preparing for the Annual Treat for Change event. However, due to University closure because of Hurricane Sandy, we had to reschedule our event to this coming Monday. Hurricane Sandy has washed away so many houses and left millions of people without power and basic necessities in this cold weather. As a result of this, we will be raising money for the Hurricane impacted people in the tri-state area, as well for our borrowers in different parts of the world.
Log # 7
By: James Vanie
The University was shutdown for the whole week because of the damage that Hurricane Sandy caused throughout the tri-state area. Our daily lives were all greatly affected, especially for the ones who lived in certain parts of Long Island and lower Manhattan.
On Thursday, Patrick Diamitani and I met up with Positive Energy Group, an unofficial St. John’s organization, to assist with cleaning up the debris in the surrounding area of St. John’s University. About three hours into our efforts, Mujibur, a middle aged Bangladeshi man, stepped out from his house with an assortment of tools to help us. Before offering his manpower and tools, he asked for our assistance to cut and remove a fallen tree that was obstructing the sidewalk and street. We learned later that Mujibur was raised in Chittagong, the same hometown as Dr. Yunus. More interesting than that, he studied economics under Dr. Yunus in his earlier years. During the day, the acquaintance was all too ironic. Later in the evening, I thought more about the core values of the people that I had worked with and met along the way. We all had something in common- a service and personal obligation to help others. At that point, the acquaintance did not seem so haphazard.
We created a synergy that attracted other likeminded people. Our volunteer work was definitely not the most impacting. We even received negative comments from a few of the local passers by, discouraging us from touching any of the debris. But this was our way of showing compassion through dedicating our time-it was our little stones thrown for the day. And the reward was a sense of self-fulfillment, clear sidewalks/streets, and a day spent with current and aspiring leaders of the world.
I realize that, while eradicating extreme poverty is most important to me, there are times when local communities need to come together to show their resilience in the presence of calamity. And through all the destruction and loss, I hope everyone can find something worth remembering from Hurricane Sandy.
Log # 8
By: Sally Ren
GLOBE is a class that continues to challenge me every day. The luncheon is this Wednesday, many things still need to be done and like human nature we like to wait until the last minute. Old habits die-hard. This class and especially this past week after Hurricane Sandy really made me reflect on what this class means to me.
It made me realize that time is super precious and that meetings and communication are absolutely necessary. These are all life lessons, which I can take away with me and use it in the real world. These lessons are bigger than GLOBE. Group work is a challenge in general but it helps if everyone is on the same page. I realize as the days draw closers that this might not be the case because people are busy. Understandable, but I also believe that there is enough time, because you make time for it. However, these are opportunities for those who want to make a lasting impact. This is unique to any class. I took the initiative to create a program, which after many difficulties it is still rewarding. I hope that the original template can be used somehow in the future; I do not want to see it go to waste.
Claire and I also worked on the GLOBE Jeopardy game, which I am really excited to see it in action. Our objective with the game is to get the donors involved, they will see what we are doing and in the end be more likely to donate. Also the vibe of the luncheon will be a little more casual and relaxed. Overall I am very excited to see the events unfold! I know it will be a success. After all the obstacles in our way, GLOBE will be able to bring it all together and execute it well.
After this big event, we have to prepare for the final presentation. This semester is flying and I am a little nervous about it ending, I feel like there is more I can contribute at this time. I want to be able to pass onto the next class the idea that this class is more than just helping those in poverty. It’s a class that will challenge a person to do more, take on more. Through this class it will reveal to a person, traits and habits, areas that they are fantastic in and areas that they need work in. This class will really help an individual grow.
Log # 8
By: Daniel O’Boyle
Recently, Hurricane Sandy ravaged my home state of New York. I have lived in New York for all 21 years of my life, and I have seen quite a few storms. However, I have never witnessed firsthand any other storm that caused as much destruction as Sandy. Sandy left a great deal of devastation and destruction in her wake. This hurricane was a natural disaster in the truest sense of the word and caused numerous tragedies.
I was living at the lovely St. John’s University Manhattan Campus at the time. I was forced to evacuate and sought refuge at my Long Island home. Luckily, my family managed to avoid encountering one of the many tragedies of the hurricane. We were just plagued with a lack of power for about two weeks. I am in no way insinuating that our lack of power was anywhere close to an equivalent to some of the horrific things that others experienced. However, it was a major inconvenience, and did make our lives more difficult than the standard we are used to. Along with a lack of basic electricity, a lack of power also includes a lack of heat and hot water. These are all things that we take for granted every day.
While I was living without power, I became more upset because GLOBE had to be cancelled that week. During my time off, I was still in contact with my team. I began to reflect on our borrowers and some of the other people who live in poverty. Many of whom are always living without power. I hated it after a few days; I couldn’t imagine what it would be like for my entire life. I began to have a stronger appreciation for the work that we do in GLOBE. I felt proud and lucky that I have the opportunity to spend my class time helping to combat poverty.
I also spent a great deal of my time during the week off in Rockaway. I have some family who live there so I went to help them pump water out of their basements. I also spent part of this weekend down there helping gut other residents’ apartments that had been completely destroyed. The people down there still do not have power and there is no sign of when they can expect it back. One thing that I did notice is that many of the people now have small solar panels that they use to charge objects such as cell phones during the day. This immediately led me to think of my group’s social business plan, which is to provide borrowers with solar powered chargers so that they can charge their cell phones. It was inspiring to see that this product could be quite valuable in areas where electricity is not provided.
This week off was a reminder of sorts to the value and importance of the work that we are doing in GLOBE. I am now more focused than ever, and want to use this program to help those in need in any way that I can. I am constantly reminded that I am so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this class.
Log # 8
By: Xixi Liu
GLOBE will be officially holding their second appreciation luncheon tomorrow. We are all very excited and looking forward to this event. It is one of our most important events and the last time the class held the appreciation luncheon was in 2009. It is extremely important to acknowledge and thank all of those that have supported and helped us through the years. If it weren’t for all our donors and volunteers, GLOBE would not exist.
We would like to make this luncheon an annual event. With everybody’s busy work schedule this would also be a perfect opportunity for everyone to gather together and learn what GLOBE has achieved throughout the year. We have numerous donors, but not all of them know where their money is going. It’s important to keep them informed.
This is also the first time for many of us to actually host such a big event, with nearly 70 to 80 people. It was a great experience for us to know how to host and create such an event. It’s at times like these when we realize how important teamwork actually is. Without everybody’s input this event would not have been able to take place. We have four different teams; finance, marketing, information technology, and accounting; but for this event we all had to collaborate and work together. There were no separate teams, we were a single team.
Just like how all the different donors and volunteers are also a part of our team; we can’t make things happen when there is just one of us, it takes everyone’s effort. We are all taking part in something that is benefitting society. May it be donating money, offering help, or just supporting and spreading the word, we are all making a contribution to save a family and making a difference.
Log # 8
By: Moneifa Nance
Tonight I was able to reflect on the topic of microfinance using my areas of interest and expertise in financing and risk. The lecture of the evening involved risk management, a subject that I became interested in my sophomore year. Some of the first things that come to mind upon thoughts of risk in microfinance would be the risk of loan defaulting. While bad loans seem to be more probable due to the kinds of loans issued (uncollateralized), Dr. Sama taught us this evening that management is actually the greatest risk to a microfinance institution. Management is a risk for a variety of reasons such as the desire to increase profit, the existence of the principal- agent problem, the inability to effectively measure the activity, and the offering of incentives for issuing loans.
In my opinion, optimizing profit and offering incentives for increased loan volume are two of the most dangerous dilemmas management of microfinance institutions can face. To my understanding, it was the increased approval of subprime loans that caused the great financial crisis of 2008. Microloans can obviously be compared to these subprime loans but there are ways to prevent the microloans from spiraling out of control. The way to do this is by of course controlling management and making sure they are issuing loan according to quality (as good as they can be) not volume. You may think there is no such thing as quality microloans because they are issued to the very poor but it is definitely possible. It can be done if Microfinance institution models return to carefully assessing every single applicant to ensure the loan will be used to purchase ‘money making tools’.
The reading assigned to the IT team this week is on the topic of micro insurance. Insurance is another topic that I am very interested in. I cannot wait to read the theories explaining how insurance can work on a micro level. From what I know about insurance, micro insurance may not work because the premiums will be too little, the risk of loss to large, and the payouts even larger. To further explain my position; let’s say that an institution decided to write property insurance to a poor village prone to flooding. The insured people of the village will not be able to pay the amount in premiums needed to pay all clients in the event of a flood.
Log # 9
By Daniel Crean
One question that has continued to plague me throughout the semester is: what happens when a borrower cannot pay back their loan? Obviously with regard to GLOBE, we do not penalize our borrowers for defaulting. However, for MFIs in general, how do they ensure that a borrower pays them back, and if they do not, what are the consequences? Since microfinance is a social business, and the goal is helping people, these consequences cannot be severe enough to damage the borrower economically going forward, because that would be against the tenants of social entrepreneurship. However, this makes it very difficult to enforce the repayment of loans. This fact makes microfinance appear risky to investors. MFIs normally have extremely good payback rate, which is a testament to the character of their borrowers. However, this business plan requires the MFI to trust its borrowers to pay back their loans on their honor. In a business sector that is increasingly concerned with risk management, making deals based purely on trust is not always the most appealing way of doing business. Personally, I have complete faith in a borrower to pay back a loan and conduct them honestly. However, as in all things, there are examples where things go wrong, and I am curious about what happens in those cases. There must be cases where the borrower simply does not have the money, and no amount of pressure can create it.
One solution to this problem that I am aware of is group-loans. Borrowers must pay back their loans in order for their group mates to receive their own. Is this the most ethical approach? If, due to some unforeseen circumstance, a borrower cannot pay their loan back, should their group members be denied loans? It understandably adds incentive for the borrowers to pay back their loan, but it seems to punish others for the economic failings of one person. Micro borrowers by definition do not have collateral, so the borrower themself does not appear to lose anything besides a measure of reputation in the eyes of their peers. In my eyes, it appears that other people are being punished for the economic failings of someone else (using the word failing here is harsh, since the decks are stacked against borrowers economically to begin with). However, I understand that this is a complicated problem, and it would take an immensely creative solution to solve it. Furthermore, I am sure there are other plans and policies to mitigate against the default of a borrower, and I plan on reading more about this in the future.
Log # 9
By John Marchi
This week has been extremely productive for the Finance and Risk Assessment Team. We not only finished the draft of our Social Business Plan, but also presented to the steering committee on the issuance of a new village banking centered loan, as well as loans we recommend to write off our books. The Steering Committee meeting presented so much opportunity. We really learned a lot about the Rosalia Rondu self help group- how they strive with entrepreneurial spirit, as well as are motivated. What is unique about this loan is that the borrowers are equal partners to GLOBE- the lenders. We are providing the funds for ½ the loan, while they are raising the other ½ themselves. We feel will act as a huge risk mitigation factor.
We received a report from Sr. Deb, telling us how the village of Bangladesh is a much different world than other parts of Kenya. It is located in a suburb of Nairobi. This Village has approximately 300 families, about 1,800 people. Many of the households are single parent homes with 4 or more children. The houses are poorly constructed mud houses. Approximately 90% of the adults in the village support themselves with day labor jobs. The average income in the village for one of these day laborers is on average 150ksh per day or $1.79.
This is a very special week, because it allows for a time for us to reflect on what we are thankful for. I am thankful for the Rosalia Rondu group for opening my eyes and reigniting the flame in me to stay motivated. I am extremely impressed with their capabilities and motivation to seek education and better their own lives.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and when I saw the picture of the borrows who’s loan I presented, I was at a loss for words because I felt such a connection, as well as sense of relief, knowing that by really doing research, my team could make their lives better.
As the semester comes to an end, we are gearing up for our final presentations, as well as transition to the next finance team. My key goal is to make next semesters managers as comfortable as I am with knowing where we stand in regards to loans outstanding.
Log # 9
By Claire Cilento
On Wednesday, November 14, the GLOBE class hosted our Appreciation Luncheon. The luncheon was a means for GLOBE managers to thank our donors and friends for their support, as well as have the opportunity to get to know the people who support GLOBE better. It was exciting to see all of our work come together and to be able to pull off such a successful event. Preparing for the luncheon and the hours working together to set up St. Vincent’s Café really brought the class together and it was really nice to be a part of! Moreover, I found that getting to meet all of our donors and supporters was the best part of hosting this kind of event. I was encouraged and inspired by all of these people who have chosen to use their success to help our program.
In class last week, we spoke about the risks associated with microfinance. Because borrowers of microloans do not have the collateral required of borrowers in typical financial institutions, there clearly is more risk involved. There’s a lot of other risk involved as well though. In fact, we learned last week that some of the biggest risks for microfinance institutions are things such as management quality and staffing, things that these institutions can clearly control. There’s also competition from other microfinance institutions to consider. Another crucial risk is the question of protection of deposits in foreign banks. There are also things that are completely out of control of microfinance institutions, such as some kind of severe weather that would be a problem because many businesses financed by microloans are based on agriculture.
The luncheon brought this lesson of risk from class the day before more close to home for me. I realized that GLOBE faces risks just like any microfinance institution or just like any regular business or program. Whenever you’re starting a new initiative, no matter how prepared you are or how good of an idea it is, there is always the possibility that something could go wrong. This made me think about just how amazing our donors that we met on Wednesday really are. Everyone who puts something into this program – our donors, our Steering Committee, Dr. Sama, Dean Shoaf – they all invested their time, efforts, and money into something the likes of which had never been done before at St. John’s. Without them taking this risk, GLOBE would not be able to be what it is and I would not have the opportunity to have had the experience I had this past semester and that truly is humbling.
Log # 9
By James Vanie
This week’s group reading was very relevant to what I was doing in Ivory Coast over the summer--micro insurance was the theme of the chapter. While I didn’t consider it micro insurance at the time, I had devised a sustainable health insurance model for primary and secondary schools in Abidjan. Unfortunately, it was not recognized by the Ministry of Education, mainly because of the difficulty to break the “red tape” of receiving approval to engage faculty members and students within the primary and secondary schools. I found my ways to acquire information, but I was not as effective as I could have been had I received approval. This difficulty is one similar to Muhammad Yunus during the beginning stages of Grameen Bank. As an economics professor, he was not taken seriously and his plan did not feasible to the commercial bankers.
To make his own plan work, he operated independently. My plan would be difficult to implement as an independent entity, with the Ministry of Education, it would also face much regulation and possible corruption from the higher ranks of the school district. So what would motivate the world’s poorest people to invest in insurance? As I mentioned in class today, there is no immediate return on investment. People see themselves and families as perfectly healthy if they are not on their deathbeds.
Education about the importance of insurance is not enough for people in the developing world. The communities would need a social business in place that will use the profits to invest into causes that will directly benefit the quality of life for the clients. The model would not work if any profits are made or dividends taken. Sadly, this is where many governmental structures fall short in West Africa. This social business insurance model would thrive in many different fields-schools, agriculture, and local businesses. If there were an immediate incentive that participants received, it would greatly increase the likelihood of individuals buying insurance. It would take a great amount of research to find the probability and relation of: accidents and/or losses, the amount of money to pay back out to borrowers, and affordable amount to ask for.
Log # 10
By Shelby Chambers
This is our last official week of GLOBE. When this class first begins, you never realize how fast it will go by. I have learned so many things since we first began and I have to say this has been one of the best learning experiences I’ve ever had. I originally had no clue what microfinance was before this class. When I thought about poverty I was thinking of it in lamest terms, but now everything has a new meaning. Microfinance is a tool that is used by people in the developed world in order to help those in developing countries to find a way out of an endless cycle of poverty. Poverty is more than individuals being poor but a lifestyle they are forced into due to the economic situation of their country. People do not ask to be born into poverty, they cannot help it and unfortunately, they have no idea how to pull themselves out of it.
Microfinance is used in various ways to insure people will have a better lifestyle. Families that are able to receive loans from organizations, such as GLOBE, are so grateful to the services because they are given opportunities. Now their children can go back to school, there is food on the table for everybody, mothers are able to take charge of their lives and so on. It brightens my day to know that I am a part of an organization that can give these opportunities to people in developing countries.
Now that my semester is ending, it is time for me to find a new endeavor. Being a part of this program allows you to grow in many ways. GLOBE has opened my mind up to a new realm that is growing continuously and its maturity is nowhere in the near future. I want to find a place where I can continue to grow while helping those in need. I am excited about the next chapter in my life inspired by GLOBE and I hope the memories from this class will help me to push forward.
Log # 10
By Nattalia Balkaran
As the semester comes to a close, GLOBE has changed me in a number of ways. I have become more group oriented, I have learned how to manage my time better and have brought forth my unknown skills to the forefront. I am extremely happy that I chose to take part in this wonderful academia program and very happy that I was chosen to be one of the few selected. The opportunity has been life-changing and regardless of what I do in the future, my thoughts will always stem back to GLOBE and its mission. Being on the finance team will do that to you. Reading about loan applicants’ history and their hurdles, it makes one want to help- in any which way I can.
There are many things I regret not doing during the semester, but I am satisfied with the way we overcame our own hurdles. I believe that SPRING 2013 will have a blissful and easier transition into GLOBE because of all the improved methods of recording and accounting information from the teams this semester. It was difficult to jump into GLOBE and understand right away what took place, what is taking place and what should take place. At least in this instance, there is no back tracking, everything is provided in an easy form, all thanks to GOOGLE DOCS.
I believe once we learned about our borrowers and the regions we were located in, the team began to function and geared towards issuing new loans, reassessing other poor loans and writing them off. We then began working on figuring out a way to make all these time consuming bureaucratic sort of paperwork less of a hassle. Once that was accomplished, the next hurdle would be to have better communication with the on ground eyes and ears, the daughters of charity. Communication in GLOBE is an essential factor to the function of what GLOBE’s vision is. In order to improve in our business and learning endeavors we need more communication with those located on-site.
I look forward to seeing each semester build upon the previous knowledge gained to make their semester even better. The point of GLOBE is to help pull people out of poverty by helping them help themselves. Likewise I think GLOBE also helps students shape themselves without us even realizing it and ever more help shape the way in which we view the world. There are things we as Americans are blind to one huge issue is poverty. It’s also very hard for people to care, which is why I would like to give thanks to everyone who lends an ear to listen and open up their hearts to give. People make poverty seem as if it is an alien, as if it is something they have never heard before. The golden rule in life is to treat others the way you would like to be treated. I view our mission as if I were a person living in the conditions of a developing country; in that scenario, I would want someone to care and give a helping hand to me. With that said, I am truly grateful for this chance you’ve given to me, Dr. Sama and for letting me open my eyes to a world that is unseen.
Log # 10
By Tiffany Yeung
I cannot believe that the semester is almost over! Dr. Sama was not lying when she said that this class would fly by. Tonight’s class consisted of rehearsing for our final presentation. I am so proud of my class and all that we have accomplished, but I am especially proud of my team. I did not expect for my team to become so close to each other and rely on each other as much as we did. I am so grateful to have met these four dedicated and ambitious people. Without them, my GLOBE experience would not have been the same.
Looking back on this semester, I personally feel like I have accomplished more than I ever would. Of course this would not have been possible without the other members of my team and classmates but I never would have imagined doing all that I have. Being a part of GLOBE made me realize that everyone is capable of doing something greater not only for themselves but for others. Not only did I learn more about microfinance, but also I learned more about myself and my own personal goals in life. I know that the lessons and compassion that I have developed in the classroom will carry on with me for the rest of my life. Although my journey in the GLOBE classroom is coming to an end the footprints I have left behind will remain for the future classes. I know that the final presentation will be a huge success and I cannot wait for the next class to be a part of it! This is an ending to a new beginning and truly a bittersweet moment.
Log # 10
By Patrick Diamitani
10 weeks? The end of the year? One more semester gone and another semester that will be the last of my undergraduate years?
And you know what, while this is a period in which many young college grads-to-be feel scared, I can’t help but feel blessed. Even with the uncertainty- because for us, there is hope.
I was speaking with a friend today over lunch and we were talking about future plans and insecurities. I couldn’t help but realize that everything we seemed scared about was relatively insignificant. Sure, some people truly do have needs that are unmet do to fear and anxiety, but for the most part we can look at our lives and say, “I’ve had an opportunity to pick up a book and read it, to obtain knowledge. I have clothes on my back, I’ve got shoes on my feet, I’m going home to an apartment, and if I live with my parents, even better- I’ve got a nice, free warm meal to come home to. We have choices after we graduate that will make us tens of thousands of dollars; even if they are not the choices we seek. Who says I can’t wash dishes for $10 an hour and live in an apartment in Queens with a few roommates? Even if it’s not ideal, that kind of life produces more wealth than some people dream of. “ That’s why I’m glad I took this course and pursued knowledge of solutions for the worlds poor- if I can be so unhappy with relatively so much, how can I raise their standards of living so I can justify my ranting and raving? I think that’s what the true goal of any person facing a tough life should be- “Okay, I get it, you’re life is harder; now let me make it better so I can complain in peace.” I spent Thanksgiving Day with my uncle who is the Director of Programs for Unicef. He’s also on the boards of a couple universities and sits as a board of trustee for the American Red Cross. At dinner myself and another young man were speaking to him and I could feel the passion and pain in his heart. “No one gives a damn about the poor.” He went on about how so many people harden their hearts as if it is “their problem,” that individuals are in poverty without realizing how hard it really is. When he was younger he visited war-torn regions, sided with rebel armies in civil war conflicts (which would have undeniably gotten him executed should the side not have won) and truly pursued his dreams to take care of the poor, before and while working as a field agent for Unicef. He said that there was always something in him growing up that wanted, needed, to help the poor and he never would’ve been happy if he didn’t. He put his heart and soul into it and even though he took an unpopular jump in his youth, it has truly produced massive dividends in his future and career. That’s why I thank you, Dr. Sama, for taking the leap to develop a world-changing, if not Patrick-changing, program to give much needed assistance to those in need. Like all of us, it would be so great if only we could continue to do so much more. I guess that’s why we will truly never leave the GLOBE family until poverty really is on the edge of its seat.
By: Shawn Chowdhury
GLOBE is a class like no other provided at St. John’s University. In most classes students take tests to assess how much they understood the concepts. This method of education is flawed in a number of ways. Some students may understand the information but they may not be good test takers and other students may cheat without getting caught and do better than the student who actually understood the information. In other words, test grades may not be an accurate indication of how well students retain and understand information. In GLOBE test grades are a small part of the learning experience. GLOBE is a hands-on learning experience. The quality of education in this experience is much greater than that acquired from taking a test. In this class you don’t just learn about microfinance; you become emerged in it. A Chinese proverb that Dr. Sama always uses to describe the experience is, “Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.” I believe GLOBE is one of the few classes that help students fully understand miniscule details and implications of the subject they are teaching by actually involving them in the experience.
I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in GLOBE. I truly believe that the class has made me more knowledgeable as a person who is interested in poverty alleviation. The readings and presentations provided by Dr. Sama give students a thorough understanding of how poverty affects people and how poverty can be mitigated. Throughout the year we saw presentations by other groups and professionals to help us further develop our understanding. Each presentation captivated my mind and kept me informed.
Besides the interesting subject matter of poverty, the class also helped me grow as a future professional. Through GLOBE I was able to dress in business attire, interact and mingle with other professionals and present information to them, proficiently, in the form of presentations. GLOBE teaches students how to handle real world situations. Everything in the class has deadlines, requires meetings in order to meet deadlines and forces students to collaborate in order to get things done. There is no way to cheat in this situation. You are forced to learn. If you cannot learn, you cannot present. If you cannot present, you not only let yourself down, you let the class down.
I am proud to be a GLOBE manager. I have learned so much from taking this class and I hope to use the information I acquired in the near future. I eagerly await the opportunity to interview for a company and talk about how much I learned about professionalism through GLOBE or how the Associate Vice President of Institutional Advancement at St John’s was so interested by the Auditing System that our group created that he decided to use it in his role of Professional Development. This class easily has most real world application of any class I have ever taken in St. John’s. Although I don’t know what I will ultimately do when I leave St. John’s, I know that I will use the skills I learned in this class wherever I go.
By: Sally Ren
The GLOBE final presentation was a huge success with over $800 sold in raffle tickets, an all time record. I am so proud of my team and for their hard work. It really paid off, when we had our Prezi presentation shown on the big screen it was unbelievable. I felt really good and confident about what I had done these past months. Every team did a fantastic job and I left that night feeling excited, bittersweet, and proud of the GLOBE class that I had been a part of. The journey doesn’t end there, helping others only started with GLOBE. It’s all about paying it forward.
I have decided to pay it forward. GLOBE gave me the idea for a business plan that I have submitted to the business competition. The business is called B.E.P. - Businesses Eradicating Poverty, where we can take the goods produced by the borrowers and sell it online to the mass market. The great advantage of the goods being sold in the mass market is that there would be more profits for the borrowers than if it was sold locally. But like all businesses there are obstacles, the biggest one that I see is the cost involved with shipping the goods from Africa to the USA. However, I do believe it can become a reality with time, research, donations and good people supporting the cause. That is the reason I hope that in some way GLOBE can in the future incorporate this or if a partnership could be formed between B.E.P., GLOBE and the Daughters of Charity. I hope with my free time I can travel and be inspired with possible solutions in which I can push forward these efforts.
Similarly, I have decided as a Senior to part take in St. Baldricks, the event where people raise money for children’s cancer research and shave their heads. Right now I have set out to collect $2,000 by March. If that goal is met I will be shaving my head, which will be documented in detailed. The reason I thought to do this is because it was a challenge in many ways. It was a challenge of my character as a person, giving up my long hair for a cause. Realizing the consequences that this might hinder potential job offers and judgment by the masses, but I think of myself as a risk taker and someone that does not conform. I wanted to throw a quick plug in here donations are being collected online at Sally Ren's St. Baldricks Page
All in all, GLOBE is a great class and a great experience. We all real do become a family, with one common goal of alleviating poverty one microloan at a time.
By: John Marchi
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. This is a phrase that I feel really applies to our past semester. We have overcome so many obstacles that were out of our control that could have really set us back. We however stayed dedicated to the borrowers. That is after all why we are here- to help our borrowers succeed. There were times when I thought we would not be able to achieve our goals; there were times when I thought that we were stagnant, but the Finance and Risk Assessment Team really pulled through and was able to have an experiential and academic experience through GLOBE. I think the fact that there was a human being attached to each loan is what kept us motivated.
GLOBE has reinforced to me how powerful microfinance can be. I first learned of GLOBE through a faculty council meeting in 2009. I was further exposed as a member of the microfinance alliance at Credit Suisse. Being able to take part in the practical portion of it by reviewing loan applications, issuing loans, following up with partners in the field, presenting to the Steering Committee, and fundraising has all given me a true appreciation for how far a dollar raised can go. I have also gained an appreciation for our donors, whether someone donates one dollar at a bake sale, or fifteen thousand dollars- it all makes a difference, and they all have helped us to alleviate poverty.
The world that we live in is forever evolving, and so is GLOBE. This semester, we issued the first ever self-revolving group loan. We also set the framework for next semester’s managers to receive an application for a housing loan. We realized that by diversifying our products, we will also mitigate risk further. Additionally, this semester, we really benefited from cloud computing. By saving our records to a Google drive account, we were able to track who makes changes, as well as collaborate while all in different places. We are using forms to track loan progress that will enable the ease of export into excel, from anywhere around the globe.
GLOBE would not be successful without the four teams, director and coordinator working together as one machine to further advance the mission. We truly saw us unite as one, especially after Hurricane Sandy when even though some of us were impacted, we put on our Treat for Change event raising over four hundred dollars which was matched by Dr. Sama and donated to the relief efforts.
In closing, I will always hold GLOBE close to my heart. It has been one of the most memorable courses I’ve taken because it is so interactive- when you are in GLOBE, you eat, breathe, and sleep GLOBE. It is now up to us to ensure that down the road- GLOBE continues and we stay involved- whether through GLOBE G.A.P., joining the Steering Committee or contributing financial means.
By: Claire Cilento
It seems like just yesterday we were getting our group picture taken, but now our GLOBE shirts are faded, our objectives are checked off, and we are ready to take what we have learned from this class onto the next step of our lives. Here are some of the top lessons I’ve learned from GLOBE that I will take with me to my career and beyond:
Teamwork - This semester, I met sixteen people, almost all of whom I had never met, whom I was expected to work closely with both inside and outside of class time. This meant a lot of different personalities to learn how to work and communicate with. I have learned that working with a team can be extremely positive, as everyone has different ideas they can contribute and things can get done more quickly. Even in microfinance, teamwork helps to ease the process as group loans have often been proven to work better. The things I learned from these experiences, such as the fact that everyone has different management styles that you may need to adapt to in order to work well with them, are things I will take with me.
Don’t be afraid to take risks – I have learned from our readings and lectures this past semester that microfinance involves a lot of risk. Additionally, I realized that the many people who have invested their time, money, and interest in GLOBE have taken a risk as they do not know where exactly the program will go. I guess technically I too, took a risk by jumping into a class when I knew so little about microfinance. But I’ve learned that sometimes it’s okay to take a risk. Just because borrowers do not have collateral, does not mean that they do not have the ability to come up with new business ideas and work hard enough to help themselves out of poverty. And just because much of GLOBE depends on students, does not mean it is not a risk worth taking. I will remember that taking a risk does not always necessarily mean a bad thing as I go on in life.
Communication skills – Whether it was speaking with the Steering Committee during our first meeting, conversing with donors and supporters at our Appreciation Luncheon, or reaching out to members of the class to get something organized for an event, GLOBE has definitely improved my communication skills. I have had to learn not to be shy to express my thoughts or ideas and also remember that the way you communicate can have a big impact on the way people respond.
Don’t forget to express gratitude – From our readings, presentations, and learning about the life of our borrowers, I have been reminded of how fortunate I truly am. The people benefiting from microfinance and from the loans our GLOBE program gives out have to deal with much more on a daily basis than I will probably ever have to experience. This has reminded me to count my blessings every day and be grateful for what I have.
So, that’s it - the GLOBE fall 2012 class is just about over. But even after all our logs are handed in, our presentations are made, and we count up the last dollar that we raised over the last few months, I’ll still continue to remember these lessons I’ve learned and the 16 other GLOBE managers that I have grown to admire and really enjoy working with.
By: Xixi Liu
The first time I heard about GLOBE was from my deans. They told me about this magnificent program where I can not only earn academic credit, but at the same time make a difference in the world. I was intrigued by the goals and accomplishments that the program had made in the past and it was a great honor for me to be able to take part in a program that can create history.
I entered this program not knowing much about microfinance and the depth of poverty in developing countries. But I am leaving with a wealth of knowledge that supersedes any class and textbook that I have took and read in the past. This was not just a class that we received lectures in. We gained hands on experience by administrating different events and fundraisers like our annual Treat for Change event, the Appreciation Luncheon, and our bake sale at the entrepreneur event. Through these experiences we not only learned about microfinance but we also gained knowledge on marketing, managing, accounting and the importance of technology as well. This is a course that encompasses all aspects of business that can help enhance our real world experiences.
This is also a place where we can make a contribution; a place where we actually came into direct contact with those that are in need. Like Dr. Sama says all the time, “with each loan we are giving, we are making a difference.” Not only the loans, but with every little thing we did during the program, we have already made a difference.
We are a class, a highly noted academic program, but more importantly we are a family. We are different people with different majors and backgrounds, but have been joined together by the same goal: alleviating poverty. The diversity in my class alone is astounding. We have people that are business majors but at the same time we have others that are majoring in things like government and politics. We have Americans, but similarly we have people that are actually from developing countries like Bangladesh. All of us are different, yet very much the same when we join together and collaborate as one. We’ve learned to work with each other and help one another as needed. This program would not be the success it is today without team effort and the support of other faculty members and donors.
I can honestly say that GLOBE has been one of the best decisions I have made after coming to St. John’s University. It taught me a great deal on team work, communication, and the business world. But it was also because of GLOBE that I was able to use my abilities to make that difference I am capable of making. No matter how small it may be, I know I took part in changing history.
By: Moneifa Nance
"The key to ending extreme poverty is to enable the poorest of the poor to get their foot on the ladder of development. The ladder of development hovers overhead, and the poorest of the poor are stuck beneath it. They lack the minimum amount of capital necessary to get a foothold, and therefore need a boost up to the first rung. " – Jeffery Sachs
My journey with GLOBE fall 2012 is one that I will surely never forget. I learned a very valuable lesson in this very short semester. GLOBE is a microloan program that is known for helping the poorest of the poor but it almost does just as much for it managers. Just as Jessica Lazo of the Spring 2009 inaugural class said during her speech, I too have been permanently affected by GLOBE and the idea of microfinance. I will continue to keep this concept in mind through my career and philanthropic endeavors.
I remember being disappointed about being placed on the IT and Communications Team at our first class meeting on September 4, 2012. I had no experience or interest in technology what so ever. I believed that continuing in the course would be a big mistake but the curiosity in me and my passion for poverty alleviation convinced me to stay. After a couple more classes I became well acquainted with the rest of the class. I must admit that is was difficult working with my team as they were very different from the usual team (in terms of leadership and professionalism) but I managed to assimilate and make the best of the situation. GLOBE helped me realized that I can adjust and perform in any environment. I hope that GLOBE will advertise the change it inspires for it managers at St John’s as well as the change it stimulates in the world.
GLOBE fall 2012 manager’s are probably the most hardworking class of all. Given the major obstacles we’ve come across (Hurricane Sandy in particular), we still managed to complete most of our goals and still issued a new loan, which is the first of its kind for our program. Some of the most monumental changes have occurred during our administration. My team created a dynamic website, the accounting team updated the lexicon and created training modules, the marketing team broke the record number of raffle ticket sales, and of course the finance team issued the loan and did ground breaking research for starting business in Peru. Our donors will have memories of the Appreciation Luncheon long after we are gone which speaks volumes of the impact our creativity has had on them.
With that I would like to thank Dr. Sama not only for giving us this wonderful opportunity, but for sharing her expertise with us in the form of lectures. Although the lectures are the most underrated aspects of the class, they happen to be one of my favorite parts. I find the field of microfinance to be so fascinating with so much left to be discovered. I truly believe that poverty cannot be alleviated by giving hand outs it must be dealt with from the root cause which is the lack of self-sustainability. I admired GLOBE for helping the poorest of the poor and I hope that this philosophy will remain intact in the generations of GLOBE managers to come.