Each semester, students enrolled in the Global Microloan Program will update this site with their weekly program logs. The fall 2013 student teams include Technology and Communications, Marketing and Fundraising, Enterprise Development, Program Impact Audits and Budgeting, and Finance and Risk Assessment.
By: Christella Dolmo
My first week as a GLOBE student was quite exciting. I was able to meet and get to know the people with whom I will be working with throughout the semester. It was nice to know why everyone was interested in being a part of GLOBE, and despite the fact that GLOBE is a microloan program, it is open to all majors, not just business majors. This means that we can each learn from one another and that everyone is willing to share their knowledge and unique experiences to manage the program.
The reason why I decided to join GLOBE was because I thought it would be a good program where I could contribute my knowledge to help people make sound financial decisions. As a student at St. John’s University, my goal has always been to take the knowledge that I have learned and use it to benefit others. I did this when I volunteered for VITA Program (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program). This program required me to attend a workshop in order to properly prepare income tax returns for low income tax payers. Although I was not helping taxpayers make financial decisions, I liked utilizing my skills to benefit others in some ways. In GLOBE I am able to be part of a group of students that helps borrowers make business decisions.
Part of the reason why I am passionate about helping people make good decisions about their finances or businesses is because growing up I would witness my parents struggle to pay bills. One of the reasons for this was because when they immigrated to this country from Honduras they did not fully understand the credit system and the effect it would have on their future. I strongly believe that if my parents had the proper knowledge and information, they would have avoided making some of the decisions they made in the past.
I think that being part of GLOBE is not just about issuing loans to borrowers but also about providing them with the knowledge and tools necessary to make their business ventures a success. Because of this I am definitely looking forward to being a part of Enterprise and Development Team, which assists in the development of business plans and financial literacy training, while also finding ways to measure the impact we are having on our borrowers.
Log # 1
By: Moges Beyene
I was really surprised when I learned from last class’ lecture that microfinance was not a recent phenomenon. I had always thought that Muhammad Yunus was the father of microfinance. Although, he is indeed the father of “modern” microfinance, the concept had existed before his time. Apparently it existed in 18th century England and France. After thinking critically, I also remembered of the traditional financial institutions in Ethiopia that my mother and father told me about. In this very old tradition, people of the same income level, who are closely tied to one another through work or personal relations, form a group. The group meets once or twice a month and each member contributes a fixed sum of money. After a year of the establishment of the group, individual members will be eligible to take out loans from the group.
These microcredit groups existed even prior to the 19th century and are very similar to Muhammad Yunus’ model. However, due to their difference in time period and context, I noticed some dissimilarity. For instance, the microcredits in Ethiopia were not necessarily for the poor. They were established because there were no financial institutions at the time. Therefore, it was mostly the rich who participated in the groups. On the other hand, Muhammad Yunus’ model targets poor individuals who are not illegible to get access to loans in conventional financial institutions.
One thing that did not surprise me, but opened my eyes to the impact of microfinance on the empowerment of women was the story that Dr. Sama told us of Muhammad Yunus. Apparently after one of his conferences, one man approaches Yunus and told him that he did not like the “microcredit business” he established. When Yunus asked him why, the individual responded by saying that his wife is now more empowered and is acting differently due to participating in his project. I am sure this response would have delighted Yunus, as one of the missions of microcredit is indeed to empower women, especially in less developed countries were women are marginalized. In the lecture we learned that only 5% of the demand for credit is being met. We can all imagine the impact on women empowerment if this increased to at least 20%.
We have also learned from our lecture that the industry of microfinance is shifting from being “socially oriented” to “profit oriented”. The portfolio of this industry is now shifting from being donor-funded to investor-financed. Personally, I do not like this idea at all. The whole point of a social business is to serve the society and not work for profit. Yunus defined social business in his book “Creating a World Without Poverty” as “a self sustaining company that sells goods or services and repays its owners for the money they invest, but whose primary purpose is to serve society and improve the lot of the poor.” Therefore, I believe that making microfinance “profit oriented” is self-defeating and defies the whole purpose of a social business- to bring the advantages of free market competition into the world of social improvement. If it ends up being profit-oriented, I believe the poor will not benefit as much and we might witness a crisis like the one in India where suicide rates among loaners have increased.
Log # 1
By: Gabriella Guzman
Coming into the GLOBE class, I certainly did not know what to expect and was both excited and nervous. Prior to Spring 2013, I had never even heard about the program, much less the term “microfinancing” until my friend spoke to me about it. I am so grateful that she did and explained in depth exactly what this class was all about. From the moment I heard all these great things about this program I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I was extremely anxious throughout the application process, and to my surprise I made it through the interview, application, and was finally accepted into GLOBE. Everything became real to me when I watched the Spring 2013 class give their final presentations and they ended the night handing off the torch to us, the new Fall 2013 class.
After attending the final presentations, school ended quickly thereafter and summer was approaching. I had not given much though to my schoolwork yet until Dr. Sama began emailing us and reminded us to start reading our textbooks. Usually this would feel as such a chore or nuisance, but I was so incredibly thrilled for this program I started reading right away. Suddenly I found myself beginning to learn and understand the idea of microfinance, and this certainly was empowering. Not only that, but I found myself so interested in Muhammad Yunus- the father of microfinance.
I do thoroughly enjoy all of the books, but the one that has particularly stuck out to me thus far is “Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism”. I truly am enjoying this book for multiple reasons, one being that Muhammad Yunus’ life is deeply inspiring and the stories he tells are incredible. He is such a giving, selfless person who is also smart enough to create something as great as the Grameen Bank. Also, this book is relevant to society today and if everyone took the time to read it, I do believe our world would be closer to eliminating poverty and hunger. This book clearly relates to our class and is actually the foundation on which GLOBE operates since it expresses the idea of a social business: a business that pays no dividends and sells its products at prices that make it self-sustaining. The idea of social entrepreneurship and businesses that function in order to do more good for the world instead of being focused on profit, appeals so much to me and is something I strive to be a part of.
Along with my reading and research, the two times our GLOBE class has met so far has been very enriching. Somehow the three hours we meet seem to fly by and you can tell that we all sincerely want to learn more. I am lucky enough to be part of the Marketing and Fundraising Team and am more than excited to see us accomplish and hopefully surpass the goals we have set for ourselves. I have already learned so much in such a short amount of time and cannot even fathom what I will have experienced by the time this semester is over. Having this opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself, learning about microfinancing, and being able to help the less fortunate in the process makes me feel as if I am finally working towards what I want to do for the rest of my life.
Log # 1
By: Tempest Francis
So far two weeks of GLOBE have transpired and a lot has taken place. I was fortunate enough to be in my first choice of team: Information Technology and Communications. In the selection process, I noticed I was one of the only ones to choose this group as their top pick. This was surprising to me because of how social media driven our generation is. I chose this group particularly because Information Technology is one of my two majors and I do feel as if this group would be the most engaging to me and beneficial to the GLOBE group.
The first class is where we met our fellow classmates and received our GLOBE gear; I have not taken my wristband off since. I was glad to be working with people that I knew from previous engagements. The second class was the most engaging yet since we all had ideas of what we could accomplish for this semester. The most awkward part of the class was the photographer taking pictures. I found that every time the camera was pointed at me I naturally smiled, then when I realized that I was supposed to look natural, I started to laugh while attempting to relax my face. I cannot wait to see those pictures and post them on our social media networks. One of the biggest inquiries this week was the problem with the school’s rebranding. I was worried that too many of the sites would have STJ all over them instead of SJU and that those would be permanent. It turned out that the rebranding was not too much of an issue; the only sites that needed to be updated were Instagram and Twitter. I took it upon myself to make contact sheets with our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blogspot and LinkedIn username so people can follow us. I was hoping that we could get a large amount of these printed out on a type of laminated postcard paper and they can be handed out at our bake sales and every week each classmate could pass out about 5 to different people to get GLOBE’s name out there.
I really hope that we can start raising money for these loans. Due to my leadership status on campus as Vice President of the Resident Student Association, a representative from Haraya had contacted me wondering if I would like to collaborate with them in a documentary showing of Miss Represented, showing how women are not taken seriously in the business world because of them being displayed as sex symbols. Since this documentary could definitely relate to GLOBE and its initiatives, I suggested to my team that GLOBE should also collaborate with this documentary showing and have a bake sale within it. Both Haraya and the Resident Student Association have an expansive student following and this event is sure to be attended by many students interested in issues such as social justice. Our team’s liaison, Jabari, thought it was also a good idea and said he would contact the Marketing and Fundraising Team about this. Hopefully we can make this event collaboration possible.
Log # 2
By: Brenna Beluk
This week in the world of Enterprise and Development, I felt as if all of our stars were beginning to align. After creating our objectives for the semester, I thought our group had bitten off more than we could chew. I anticipated a lot of work in the coming weeks to even get the ball rolling!
During our class last Tuesday however, we were able to meet with past GLOBE Enterprise Team members who started to shed light on everything we were doing. I was happy to hear that many of our own objectives already had groundwork from the past two semesters. They were impressed with our ambition and were able to hand us the tools we needed to start ahead of the game. The way our semester is looking now already has the ball rolling and is enabling us to build on past research and enterprise initiatives.
In class we began talking about the drastic divide in why so many of our borrowers are women instead of men due to the overwhelming statistics of women giving back to the community and being better borrowers overall. However, what caught my attention the most was the discussion of mixed loans.
Before GLOBE I attempted to read up a lot about microfinance in the news and the history to build a strong foundation. More than once I came across horror stories of husbands stealing from their wives to go on drinking binges or fathers abusing the mothers in an effort to reassert their dominance after their wives became the “bread-winners” of the home. Mixed loans allow the husband to be a cosigner in group loans or even individual loans. This may not seem like a big deal but it gives the husbands peace of mind to see where the money is going and gives them a better understanding of the entrepreneurship that their wives are taking part in. This not only empowers the women to be viewed as an equal head of the household but also empowers families to maintain businesses and support their children.
I am so excited that more programs are offering inclusionary processes like mixed loans because I believe that microloans could do so much good but we also need to focus on alleviating these negative side effects to ensure the repayment of our loans and the safety of our clients. I hope that GLOBE can find a way to introduce this to our borrowers in the future; the first step is to enrich happy families so they may build happy communities!
Log # 2
By: Chengxi Wang
According to the “Microfinance Handbook: An Institutional and Financial Perspective”, in order to control risk, MFIs are suggested to diversify their loan portfolios and limit sector concentration. Specifically, MFIs need to set a quota within each geographic sector or market segment, and avoid lending money to a large number of borrowers of the same area or business type. This risk management method echoes with the saying, “never put all your eggs in one basket”. However in my opinion, it is much better to “put all the eggs in one basket”.
The saying appeals to reason at first glance because it reduces MFIs’ exposure to a specific risk. For instance, if MFIs have only five borrowers from region A and five from region B, if war breaks out in region A, MFIs can still ensure five other borrowers are on the right track. In contrast, if MFIs have ten borrowers all from region A, the MFI might have to write off all the loans and go bankrupt. Thus, limiting concentration does give MFIs a protective shield.
Nevertheless for most MFIs, the mission is not to stay safe individually and make profits, but to step outside the comfort zone and bring about social change. If MFIs have to take care of scattered eggs (loans) inside so many baskets (geographic sectors or market segments), how can MFIs act efficiently and make a huge impact within one region? Instead, MFIs should try to put all the eggs inside one basket. Carrying only one basket is easier when making a leap, and as long as MFIs take good care of that basket, all the eggs will be in good shape.
The following personal experience illustrates how “putting all the eggs inside one basket” minimizes risk and greatly helps improve the community. Three years ago, I volunteered in a Hope Village Program in southeastern China, where each family grew fruits on a very small piece of land it owned. Every family expressed desire for microloans to purchase seeds and farm tools.
However, after a field research, I realized that the loans to individual farmers would make no significant changes for the borrowers. No matter what fruits each family grew or which advanced farm tools they used, the small piece of land per family would always prevent those farmers from mass-producing favorable fruits demanded by the market. As a result, those farmers subjected themselves to the middlemen’s manipulation. In order to help the whole community fight off poverty, I shifted the focus on several borrowers in the community as an organic whole. Each family converted its small land into shares on the basis of land area and an agricultural cooperative was established to manage the collective land. Instead of giving out small loans to several farmers, I disbursed a large loan to the agricultural cooperative to hire an expert in charge of managing the land, use market research to avoid overproduction, and new technology to prevent natural disasters. According to the latest feedback, the mass approach has efficiently controlled agricultural risk, and is generating profits which double each family’s income to pay back loans.
Just as ten fingers make a fist, concentration on one geographic sector or market segment will strengthen community development. The risk can be easily controlled with a good business plan.
Log # 2
By: Rosanna Chiu
The first three weeks of GLOBE have taught me how to manage projects with a team. By far, that is the most important task that I feel challenged by—and I am very determined to see this process through.
When I subconsciously chose the Marketing and Fundraising Team over my initial desire to be in the Enterprise Development Team, I was anticipating a wild time—and that is exactly what I had thrown myself into. The Marketing Team juggles many balls that involve stretching your skills from teamwork to strategic planning. Our responsibilities include not only attracting future students to GLOBE, but also producing events that keep donors in touch with the program and fundraising on top of spreading awareness of our mission.
Our team was so excited to improve upon last semesters’ achievements and came up with many things that we could do. However, when we had too many of those things to realistically implement, we buckled down to narrow our list to things that we can do and that are worth doing. Most importantly, though, is what we want to do.
Everyone on our team is determined and willing to put in work, which means we are already halfway there. What we lacked was cohesion and direction. I thought it was crucial that in our last meeting we went back to the basics and asked, “What does GLOBE already have?” The answer is 9 semesters of a substantial impact at St. John’s and beyond. What do we need to do this semester? Not any more than we have to! In such little time and a new group of GLOBE managers every semester, GLOBE is really about sticking with the agenda and making the most out of what is planned and required. Having a few solid objectives was key to building an effective strategy for carrying out our goals. So in my mind, after bouncing ideas back and forth with my team, Dr. Sama and the previous Marketing Team liaison, here’s what the Marketing Team should focus on:
Marketing: getting the word out to students to attract future GLOBE manager applicants. Events: to draw in students as well as donors where we are given the opportunity to connect personally with the STJ community. Fundraising: GLOBE needs to replenish its budget every semester to carry out operations done by managers.
To see to those ends, our strategy is simple: we want fundraise at the Treat for Change Bake Sale and show appreciation for donors at the Luncheon. We are working with what we have—and building on it. One example I want to raise is the poster-making project that I am working on with another teammate. We will reuse last semester’s microcredit posters as an initial round of flyer advertisements to remind students returning from the summer haze and incoming freshmen that GLOBE exists. Then we want to alter the message by compelling students to become emotionally invested in GLOBE. We will create a second set of flyers that will feature a face of what a borrower looks like and include a headline such as: “Fish farmer. Truck driver. Full time mother of 6. Thought poverty could stop her? Think again.” Stamped with the GLOBE logo and an overarching slogan: “Empower change.”
As a Communications major whose interest lies in marketing and advertising, I had ideas for the ad brewing in my head for a long time. Our team wanted to go for something emotionally moving, visually appealing, clean and bold in design. So my question immediately was: how can we mentally and emotionally connect college students to GLOBE’s mission? The concept was helping others in need to help themselves. But then that’s not “helping” anymore, it is empowering—like the way Nicolas Kristof’s and Sheryl WuDunn’s stories of women in “Half the Sky” make you feel. That’s exactly GLOBE’s mission, to support the impoverished in breaking the cycle of poverty on their own. I thought that conveying the message of breaking poverty in relatable terms, such as giving a face to the mission or describing everyday roles in family or occupation could appeal to students who may not have any clue as to what microfinance is. The goal is to get them to think about GLOBE in a way that they can understand while passing by a flyer in the hallway and bestowing it a 3-second attention span.
That was my thought process for the flyer. It may seem complex, but it is really simple when you look at what GLOBE’s already done and where we are now. We want to carve a deeper presence on campus by establishing a connection with students. That connection will turn into a relationship through events. The events might not be anything extravagant but just ensuring that the bake sale events are properly promoted, staffed and stocked with absolutely mouthwatering treats, and that the appreciation luncheon is well thought-out for our donors and catered with an international buffet will reflect the mission of GLOBE. These events take work and the energy we spend on making them good will be worthwhile in itself.
Instead of veering off to other paths, I like the idea of being creative within the parameters of what we have. What we can do with these events is boundless. In the end, we are marketing ourselves and have to bring each of our strengths to the table. Maybe someone is really passionate about GLOBE in a verbal manner and can talk up a storm at events. Another person can be a fabulous decorator and cultivate an enjoyable event. We will always impart some of ourselves in everything we do, so it is important to contribute to your team or project in a way that you are really passionate about. With 5 of us on the Marketing Team, we can easily split up tasks and bounce around different ideas that may inspire one another. I am optimistic about what our team can do.
Log # 2
By: Ashrafeen Hasan
This was a very special and exciting week for GLOBE. On Tuesday we had the opportunity to meet with former GLOBE members and to speak with them. This was a really nice experience because after meeting with the former managers, my team members and I felt so much more confident and we were more aware of each of our tasks and the important role we play in GLOBE as the IT Team.
One of the former members of the IT Team that I spoke to was Sylvia; she was extremely helpful. Sylvia spoke about her personal experiences as a GLOBE manager in the IT team and explained to me how important it is for the team to always keep everything updated. The stats on the Facebook page are very valuable and precious for us to determine what we should be doing to reach out to the people about such an amazing program. Because I am in charge of the Facebook, she showed me how to use it and gave me ideas about what I should post and how many times a day I should do it. Sylvia also e-mailed my group and me the stats from last year. It was nice meeting such wonderful individuals that worked hard to make GLOBE even better and bigger.
Another exciting thing that happed on Tuesday was when Dr. Sama gave me the flash drive containing the class pictures we took last week. It was fun and exciting to see all the pictures that were taken; I am very excited that I get to use all of these pictures on the GLOBE Facebook page. I cannot wait to show everyone that has “liked” our page and is friends with GLOBE pictures of all the events that will be held and document what the managers are doing throughout the course of the semester.
Log # 3
By: Jeff Martin
One thing that this class has really helped me with is understanding cultures foreign from my own. The discussion about Islamic banking was very enlightening due to the simple fact that it reconciles the reality of today’s currency exchange and religion, plus the rules surrounding what can and cannot be done are humanitarian in nature. The fact that in lieu of interest, Islamic banking has zakat which not only helps the poor in the area, but also achieves religious purification for the borrower in question makes economic activity in places of great wealth disparity not as tragic, but more needs to be done to improve the lives of the unfortunate.
This is where GLOBE comes in. However, with the development of our paper outline and looking at the evolution of mission drift within MFIs, I was saddened by the fact that these social businesses would rather turn a profit for the sake of funding rather than continuing to focus on helping the poor. We will continue to research and outline steps in which we can (as a MFI) actively resist and combat mission drift through alternate funding sources, refocused project ambition, and localized efforts rather than overreaching. Researching mission drift in multiple MFIs and NGOs made me realize that in an era of for-profit social businesses, corporate non-profits, and corporations using the façade of non-profits for the sake of feeling good, what we’re doing in GLOBE is more important than ever.
Log # 3
By: Moges Beyene
When Dr. Sama asked how many of us were from different cultures, the majority of the class raised their hands. This reflects the diversity of St. John’s University and our GLOBE program. In our lecture that same night, we learned how it is essential to learn about clients who are from different backgrounds. This awareness could be useful in designing customized programs for specific cultures, which would ultimately help a microfinance institution like GLOBE to serve its international borrowers better and reduce risk. After the lecture, I realized that having diverse GLOBE managers who are from different cultural backgrounds is huge asset for the program. Not only will this help us learn about different cultures through our interaction with one another, but it will also help us have better insights on our loan applicants since we will most likely have someone in the class from the same region.
I found the lecture on cultural issues to be very interesting because my team- Finance and Risk Assessment- is currently reviewing four loan applications. Three applications are from Nicaragua while the fourth is from Nigeria. At the moment, my team is researching the countries and their respective cultures. We are planning to find out how the culture of the two countries could affect the businesses and the repayment plan of the entrepreneurs. So far, we have realized Nigeria and Nicaragua have different cultures and a different environment for microfinance. This again underlines the importance of cultural awareness when giving out loans in various countries.
Another thing that I thought was really interesting was the discussion on Islamic microfinance. I was previously aware that interests are prohibited in Islamic finance. I remember seeing “interest free commercial banks” for savings accounts while I was living in Ethiopia. I used to wonder why anyone would deposit money there until I realized that interest was prohibited in Islam. Due to this reason, I thought that micro-finance in Islamic countries would be really hard. But at the same time I knew the model we use for microcredit emerged in a Muslim country- Bangladesh. The solution that was discussed in the lecture was very interesting for me. In Islam there is Zakat, which is a “fee with a dual purpose of redistributing wealth among the poor and achieve purification”. If we make it known to the Islamic society that we aim to redistribute the interest earned to the poor and the needy, then we can potentially charge interest in a form of Zakat. Furthermore, inclusion of Muslim scholars in reviewing the MFIs would be essential in gaining the acceptance of the society. This really opened my eyes. I never thought that this issue could have been solved in this manner and this helped me realize that there are typically many possibilities for solutions when facing a difficult situation.
Log # 3
By: Matthew Larkins
This week in GLOBE the pace has really picked up, not only are events coming closer to fruition but we have also begun looking into our research topic. Throughout the readings thus far a lot has been mentioned about MFIs and how they act within a community. Taking a look into group and individual loans has not only prepared me for our topic but has given insight into how most MFIs think. After the presentation on impact analysis and working on our research outline, I have realized how difficult it is to know how well you are achieving your goals within a community.
The problem of not being aware of what our borrowers are going through and what situations they may face sheds another light on a problem that MFIs encounter on a day to day basis. Working with the poorest of the poor to make a difference is essentially what we are doing, but it also makes me wonder how difficult it must be to ensure that loans are repaid. The wonderful thing about being a non-profit academic program is that we do not have to worry so much about minor loans being repaid as long as we are making a difference in the community. I really do think my team is stepping into gear and it is refreshing to know that everything is being planned out ahead of time. I can definitely see how important it is to remain balanced when dealing with so much; it has been crucial lately making sure that everyone remains in sync. I have given it a lot of thought and have made the commitment to not only be a part of GLOBE G.A.P. as a graduate student but to also try and bring some attention to the program through some family of my own. I would love to get new donors from those who I know who are of Bolivian descent and would be willing to help out. Spreading awareness has been something that has been troublesome due to the fact that most people are not interested in much that does not have to with them. This is the problem with not only spreading awareness but also with alleviating poverty, as there has been an increase in for-profit MFIs, which is shocking to me.
Log # 3
By: Ashrafeen Hasan
Being part of GLOBE for almost a month now has taught me so many things that I have not had the experience in learning in my four years at St. John’s University. Each week that I enter class I come out learning something new about GLOBE and this amazing organization I am a part of.
Last week in GLOBE I have learned about the cultural biases of different countries and how what may seem normal to us may seem offensive to them. For example, in some countries eating with your left hand is inappropriate or not greeting someone when you see them is taken to an offense. This really relates to me and my background because being from Bangladesh, there are many things that you would need to be careful about, such as never talking back to an elder. In Bangladesh it is highly disrespectful if you do not greet someone when you see them, especially if they are older then you.
Participating with GLOBE this last month has created a very special connection to where I am from and how much potential I have in helping out people in third world countries with all the facts that I am learning in class. Even being a part of the IT Team, I get to tell people everyday on our Facebook page why GLOBE is so important. I know for a fact that the next time I go back to Bangladesh I can help the poor, give them helpful advice about MFIs, and continue to make a difference.
Log # 4
By: Ariyo Ojagbamila
As we continue on this journey of alleviating poverty in the world, I thought it would be interesting to share my experience attending the plenary sessions of the 68th General Assembly of the United Nations. Bringing people out of poverty still remains pivotal to sustainable international development. I have continued to address that the problems of economic development and bilateral aid have been doing more harm than good in the developing world. Firstly, economic growth in the developing countries has been retarded by challenges from their political leadership. Theses are countries where money budgeted towards poverty alleviation always ends up enriching the rich. The political economy is characterized by corruption and negligence of the less privileged by the government
But GLOBE helps people in such a way that their psychological needs are considered. With the new programs that the Enterprising and Development Team is coming up with, I am more convinced that GLOBE is not all about giving charity; it is about sharing hope. We are currently working on a training video to help the Daughters of Charity to facilitate the loan administration process. Through this video recording we intend to foster a more cordial relationship between the Daughters and future GLOBE Managers.
If rich countries did indeed want to help developing countries, the development projects have to start from the grassroots. Rather than write checks to corrupt governments, there is a need to focus on the poor through aid agencies. Provision of financial assistance for people to invest in business and trade will facilitate economic relationship between poor communities of the world. However, aid should come in the form of microfinance to help the poorest of the world. It should also be accompanied with programs with genuine commitment to lift people out poverty. International policy makers therefore have a lot to learn from initiatives like GLOBE. If we cannot alleviate poverty from a large scale, then we should embark on minor projects such as these in order to transform life and provide opportunities for people to move up the economic ladder. To have this incredible opportunity of helping people is something I will cherish for life.
Log # 4
By: Neil Torres
This week in GLOBE has been nothing short of industrious for the Finance and Risk Assessment Team. Task after task, we are getting closer to the Steering Committee Meeting. Each of our group members have finalized and completed our decisions for loans. We specifically collaborated and agreed on the individual loan amounts and repayment schedules. Each loan had its own condition based on what the borrower requested. I had decided to grant the full loan amount to my designated borrower (Señora Palacio), while my other group mates felt that a reduced loan would be just as sufficient.
In addition, the video seen in class concerning commerce in a small village in Africa shows the entrepreneurial spirit of the resident. The hut displayed a multitude of items and sold products simply because of its accessibility. This is what I am hoping that Señora Palacio will utilize the full amount of the loan provide for. Señora Palacio would ideally extend her already existing business with the purchase of a refrigerator to sell ice cream.
Our team has also been compiling mass data to create a risk analysis on Nicaragua and Nigeria. There were many environmental contingencies that we had learned in class that had appeared in our research. The “country readiness” must be assessed, and the chink in the chain must be fixed, so to say. The groundwork needs to be laid to facilitate poverty and to combat the factors that create poverty. One of the regulator factors for why poverty continues to exist is corruption. Local government corruption, especially in developing nations, does not distribute the wealth justly. Also, there are problems with NGO transparency and governance lapses. The lack of technological infrastructure hinders a lot of processes highly developed nations now take for granted. Consequently, the illiteracy rates are very high in developing nations. It is sad to mention but one must also realize that help from the global community is decreasing. Declining international aid is a problem as well.
In turn, there are inadequate credit funds to meet growing demands. As we gather more information, we also have to be astute in order to not fall in some of the trappings of certain moral hazards. This is why the ethics of moral financing is emphasized. What my team strives to do is to improve client welfare and the financial self-sufficiency of the borrowers. Two of the many objectives the Finance and Risk Assessment Team is improving upon are both communication and tracking of borrowers. Hopefully involving the communities will encourage group lending (spillover effects). For the future, we want to continue the focus on women while reaching those (ultra poor) that normally would not have access to the services of GLOBE.
Log # 4
By: Alyssa Jones
This week’s reading that was assigned to my team is extremely inspiring to my career. As a Business Management major, I have been required to take classes that reiterate points that we, as future managers, should bring as much wealth to the company we are working for as possible. In the profit maximizing industries that I strive to work for, I have not really been pushed to question how to include socially aware missions into my studies. Accounting, Economics and Finance have all taught me how to carefully calculate which ventures will bring in more capital to reinvest into the company and thus become the most competitive and profitable. While I have been working in GLOBE I have been pushed to question these values. This week’s reading of “Creating a World Without Poverty” by Muhammad Yunus has me thinking differently about the type of corporations I wish to work for upon achieving my Master’s.
Chapter 8 of this book dives into the various measures Yunus went through to spread awareness of the importance of being a part of a social business. I was really interested in the story of Franck Riboud and his determination to merge the idea of social business with a profit maximizing business. In addressing his business managers who were primarily concerned with the answer to the question, “how much money have you made for us?” Riboud reminds them that “there will not be sustainable economic value creation if there is no personal development and human value creation at the same time.” Emphasizing that we are people who are working for people and forgetting people’s basic human rights will be the downturn of humanity. It means that if we forget how to care about helping those who are written off as hopeless, then we are not performing our basic human duty. I was pleased to read about the many leaders of financial markets that had doubts about what they were doing and realized that the concept of more money for the rich must change when we live in a world with so much poverty. I am inspired now to have a choice in my work environment. For example, in the midst of the profit-maximizing corporation I may be working for, I can choose to speak my mind about investing in a social business instead of receiving annual stock dividends.
The subchapter “New Yardsticks for Evaluating Business” was equally inspiring for me. I am inspired by the prediction Yunus had in an increasing number of free markets that would begin to “change in response to the new, broader model of human behavior they embody.” And it is clear we are well on our way. With more and more PMBs being socially aware and with the combination of competition and social businesses around them, they are increasingly selling products and donating money to organizations and social businesses in need. I also have a keen interest in Marketing and wish to get a job as a Marketing Manager one day; then it will be my turn to be socially conscious about how to raise funds for not only my company, but social businesses, just as Yunus mentioned in this chapter.
Log # 4
By: Xandrea Lancaster
I am starting to get accustomed to GLOBE. From the events that have recently transpired, I think my group and I have figured out our weaknesses and strengths. Pin pointing our weaknesses and strengths gives us a sense of direction. At the beginning of the semester we solely relied on prior GLOBE managers’ strategies. Soon enough we learned that the ideas of prior GLOBE managers were not enough. We needed to be innovative and we needed to do so quickly. Our followers expect something new every semester and we did not take that into consideration. Instead, we figured that daily updates would suffice.
Our social media platform has come along, for the most part. However, the Facebook page seems to have declined in activity. We all keep up on each other’s progress and encourage each other to post as often as possible. The problem lies in the content of the posts. Because our generation relies so much on social media as a platform to socialize and connect with others, people dislike predictability. Being predictable in a rapid paced society only keeps you stagnant. Since our posts thus far are not grabbing the attention of our Facebook followers, we plan on incorporating videos and cartoons to slightly change the atmosphere. This week we plan on “testing the waters” by implementing videos and cartoon usage as a solution.
Log # 5
By: Brendan Latimer
Each semester around midterms is always the same: the prospect of graduation looms larger than ever, and general anxiety grips me in the face of mounting academic stress. Yet there is always that one thing that gets me moving again. I needed that second wind. This semester, it came at just the right moment.
This week the long-anticipated write-ups on our borrowers made by Finance Team were unveiled. I read with enthusiasm about them—real flesh and blood people that my decisions were helping to benefit—and felt an impulse to plow through documents, phone my team members, and (excitedly) hector Chengxi about collaborating on our objectives.
With the events coming up and the information session especially active, GLOBE’s outlook seems pretty good. Our group has a solid rapport with one another, and I think we are doing well in preparation for the midterm. I will be talking about India—my country of interest—and its feasibility with fish mongering and other business proposals. The caste system may be a unique challenge, precluding some members who would otherwise be reticent to start an endeavor far outside their wildest dreams of personal advancement.
Aside from that though, my biggest anxiety is on how to make an accomplishable goal regarding healthcare services. I understand that it’s bad to bite off more than I can chew; not even in two semesters could a team pull off all the components of this plan. However, the ball needs to get rolling somehow or another, and I intend to make a worthwhile indent that future teams can build off of, much like previous Enterprise Team left us with skeletons of research into other countries and construction of a training module.
Until then, I feel content on building the relationships among my teammates and me. We are rapidly becoming a tight-nit group who hang out in and outside of class. I am glad to say that this chemistry helps our borrowers in the field in a real way; when our team clicks, it really gets things done.
Log # 5
By: Kessie Petit-Frere
This week in GLOBE was very interesting and also presented a growing issue in not only Brazil but also in the United States- slave trade. This week Dr. Brenton came and spoke to us about poverty mapping. Before I was introduced to GLOBE, I had never heard or had any experience with poverty mapping, which is actually quite informative when viewing or comparing poverty within different continents, regions and countries. This concept is important and can be utilized by the Finance Team as a way to view different impoverished regions in comparison to others. Not only did I find this useful for the Finance Team for assessing risk in the regions GLOBE works in, but also regions we have intentions on working with.
Poverty mapping can help point out which countries should have priority over others when looking into new areas to create entrepreneurs because microfinance focuses on the poorest of the poor. So why not use this as a mechanism to help detect on what levels we should deal with each individual country? As we delved further into poverty mapping I could really see no flaws in its way of identifying who was poor and what defined them as poor except that countries controlled the information given to determine the level of poverty within that country, which can be detrimental because the country can be lying to either look good or really poor so that countries or organizations give aid. An example of this is Greece when applying to be part of the EU, lying about how much debt they really were in and causing a havoc situation because they were never eligible to be part of the EU in the first place. Even so, a country such as Greece is more developed and less corrupted compared to countries such as Nigeria.
Slave trade really caught my attention during the presentation. Beside the movie Takers I had never heard too much regarding the issue. This was eye opening for me, and the following day I went on the Alumni Insider’s View trip to the capitol where we visited Lincoln’s Cottage for the Soldiers Home. At this museum, there was a room specifically dedicated to modern day slavery, which in this case is different. In most instances in Brazil the slaves were usually non-documented immigrants, and in the United States it was young girls, some being turned into prostitutes or older men and women becoming modern day house slaves. It was scary to know such activities were going on right here in our backyards yet we have little knowledge on the issue. This issue needs to be brought to the American people’s attention to create more organizations that speak on this issue.
Conditions such as being house slaves, not leaving the home, and being abused both physically and mentally makes it hard for victims to reach out for help because they are always under the control of the offender. Some of them even become used to these conditions, especially if they are taken away from surroundings that are familiar because they are left with nowhere to turn. When I read that the young girls being taken are as young as twelve years old, that scared me the most being that I have a younger sister around that age, and led me to think of what I would do if something like that happened to her. It literally made me sick to my stomach. In the United States, I feel we advocate for so many issues and it is confusing that we do not hear as much about issues like human slavery because as far as I am concerned, slavery ended years ago and these individuals imprisoning people need to face serious charges. I am very happy that Dr. Benton brought this issue to my attention and has left me wanting to further research this issue and find out how long has this been going on in America.
Log # 5
By: Anneysa Andrews
This week’s reading was very interesting. In chapter 8 of “Creating a World Without Poverty”, Muhammad Yunus speaks about a drive in people that urges them to help others. “I know I am not the only person who feels this way,” he writes emphatically. I too believe that this innate impulse exists within all of us. From a young age I have felt this desire to respond to the inequality that surrounded me. Muhammad Yunus and I also share a similar belief that it is not a lack of concern or compassion that impedes us from helping others but it is an ill-equipped economy that prevents us from readily assisting others.
As I kept reading the chapter, I found myself in the midst of a thriving economy fashioned by the ideals of Muhammad Yunus. It was a place where social mutual funds and a social stock market existed chiefly to fund social businesses and to trade social business shares that are valued based on a company’s social impact. His world was one where consumers were accustomed to choosing between social businesses and profit-motivated businesses when buying goods and services; one where regulatory bodies also targeted social businesses and accounting firms offered social audit services to assure investors that their money was being used efficiently.
Although this new world that Muhammad Yunus speaks about seems far-fetched and outside the grasp of today’s society, I believe that we are headed in that direction. Already there is a trend toward an environmentally, health-conscious consumer who cares about issues such as whether or not the food that they eat was produced organically or raised humanely or whether or not a company is associated with a social cause. Moreover, this consumer is willing to pay a higher price for products and services that meet these standards. We also see companies gaining a sustained competitive advantage because they differentiate themselves by achieving these higher standards and becoming more socially active and aware.
Albeit an idealistic one, Muhammad Yunus’ vision is inspiring. I am proud to say that I am a part of GLOBE, an organization that models itself after the work of such a great pioneer. Being a part of GLOBE has also reaffirmed my belief that it is not only the older generations who look at the world and think of ways to leave an impact but it is also the younger generations who wish and strive to make great changes that influence their lives and the lives of those to come.
Log # 5
By: Jabari Bradley
Even with all of the midterms recently, I must say this past week in GLOBE has been the most enjoyable week in the semester. I believe all of the liaisons including myself have felt a “disconnect” or lack of communication between the teams. With all of the things we have to do as separate teams, and with all of the individual commitments we have as students, it has been difficult to find time to really come together as a group. I feel like all of the liaisons have sensed this disconnect, so over the weekend we were able to come together just to discuss what our teams are currently working on. I admit that as the liaison of the IT Team, I have to do a better job communicating with the rest of the GLOBE managers and not just my team. Today we got a chance to share our progress, what our teams have been working on, and what we plan to do. It was great to hear all of the feedback and new ideas from our fellow GLOBE managers. As teams, when we focus on just our own goals and objectives, it may be easy to lose sight in the fact that when we all come together, we can truly help each other achieve our individual goals and objectives in a more efficient way. I thoroughly enjoyed today’s class because I finally got to see exactly what each team was doing and I saw how we all must come together to achieve everything we need before the semester is over. I have played sports throughout my whole life, so I really enjoy working as a team and coming together to achieve one common goal. For me, today’s class reiterated the fact that when you come together as a team you can achieve so much more. Whether it’s teams in a student-managed program like GLOBE, sports teams, or different departments in a company, teamwork is pivotal in achieving goals.
As a Risk Management major I was really interested in what the Finance and Risk Assessment team was doing. Today I was very excited to see what they were working on and exactly how they were analyzing and assessing all of the risks in giving loans to the borrowers. Because of their presentation today in class, I cannot wait until the meeting with the Steering Committee tomorrow. I am not only excited to present our objectives to them as the IT Team liaison, but also to hear the presentation from the Finance and Risk Assessment Team. Today’s class also reminded me of the great challenges that are standing before us. During these next few weeks as a class, we all need to be on the same page in order to execute everything that needs to be done. I have faith in us and I know all of the hard work will be worth it.
Log # 6
By: Jeff Martin
As I was sorting out the research I completed up to this point for the midterm presentation, I realized that it was very important to make a viable case for Haiti, since there are still several factors working against it, such as continued social instability, government corruption, and a lack of economic infrastructure for our borrowers to thrive in. Even though I’ve been told that Haiti would be a challenge, I still believe that now is the time for GLOBE to enter the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and do what billions of dollars in aid have not… fundamentally change lives.
I recently read an article in the New York Times that illustrated the dire conditions that Haitians faced, regardless of the outpouring of support that the country received in the aftermath of the 2010 Earthquake. Around $7.5 billion have been distributed so far; about half has gone toward emergency relief, while the other half has been split between infrastructure improvements and new programs. However, there has been little to no economic opportunities for Haitians, specifically in terms of entrepreneurial support, this is where GLOBE comes in.
By giving borrowers the chance to establish their own businesses through GLOBE loans, it will not only promote self-sufficiency but will also lead to stronger families, empowered women, and healthier communities. Small, locally-owned and operated businesses do make a difference in any scenario ranging from Appalachian America to Northern Haiti by infusing the local economy with goods and collectively raising the standard of living. If we do decide to commit to pursuing GLOBE involvement in the area around Cap Haitien (one of the most stable cities in the country with access to ports and tourism) then we will be forbearers of an economic revolution that is people focused and people driven, something that this country of constant foreign aid (and intervention) has never experienced before.
Log # 6
By: Moges Beyene
Last week, it was great to see the presentations from the different teams in GLOBE. It made me realize, that although we are working on different aspects, we have one main objective. All the teams overall goal is to enhance GLOBE so it can have a greater impact on borrowers and create awareness to students and the wider community. We work together so that GLOBE increases its capacity from year to year, so that it will contribute greatly in the fight to alleviate poverty around the world.
However, it should also be noted that one essential component of GLOBE is awareness and learning. As students in academia, we know the long-term benefits of awareness. Through the learning opportunities in GLOBE, we have the burden and responsibility to act on all the injustices that we witness all around the world. Although knowledge is considered as an asset, it is also a huge burden because it is associated with the responsibility to act and change something that is unjust. Therefore, I believe that through the synergy created among the different teams, we will be able to enhance the capacity of GLOBE, contribute to the alleviation of poverty and most of all increase our awareness of issues that need to be addressed.
There are many different approaches that can be used to address poverty. In GLOBE, we mostly focus on social businesses, specifically microloans. However, it is important to remember that microloans are just one aspect of social business. I was recently looking up literature in order to complete my Independent Study for the Ozanam Scholars Program. In my literature review, I came across an article that was a perfect example on what I wanted to do in life- run a social business in rural Ethiopia.
The article was about a cooperative in rural Kenya, called Honey Care Africa that has proven to be very successful. Honey Care Africa is a commercial honey social business started in 2000 by Kenyan entrepreneur Frank Jiwa and two investors. The company buys processes and sells high-quality honey for the East African domestic market and for export mainly to Europe. Through cost sharing or loan agreements, Honey Care provides hives and beekeeping equipment to improvised communities and individuals. They also provide training and technical assistance at no cost to the community. Honey Care then purchases the honey from the producers at above market prices. It then sells the honey to the local market or imports it to various countries across Europe generating enough revenue to cover its costs and earn profit. With the profit, it buys more beehives and distributes to the local community. This social business has helped reduce poverty in several poor communities by developing sustainable employment. Honey Care has also helped build communities and foster self-sufficiency through producing honey and bee products locally rather than importing them. In 2004, the World Bank invested additional capital to facilitate the expansion and replication of Honey Care’s business model to Tanzania, Uganda and other neighboring countries.
I was really happy to learn that a cooperative like Honey Care Africa are successful. This is something I want to implement in Ethiopia. I am often met with cynicism when I mention that this is something I want to do. People say it will never work. But now I can show them that they are wrong by through success of Honey Care Africa, GLOBE and other similar businesses.
Log # 6
By: Rosanna Chiu
This week in GLOBE marks the halfway point of our semester and I am very happy about the progress that our entire class has made as well as what I’ve learned from the endeavors of the Marketing Team. Our first fundraiser was highly successful due to the efforts of all the GLOBE managers in contributing baked goods and spreading awareness of our mission. I learned a lot about how to coordinate an event with my team and am really grateful that even our supporters so willingly pitched in! Next we have our luncheon and second bake sale coming up, which is really exciting—I am confident that they will go well as long as we continue along this momentum.
In our class discussions and lectures on the topic of social entrepreneurship, I have begun to reflect on how important the mission aspect is in a social business. Since social businesses do not operate for the sake of profit, the objective is likely to lean towards affecting systemic change. The key in sustaining a mission is to have a long-term goal in development where government and corporations may not be able to reach. Upon reading of social entrepreneurs’ dedication to their mission, I picture a burning flame in the hearts of those who commit themselves to this path. They work tirelessly not because they are self-ess, but as David Bornstein says, they are “self-more”: applying oneself to work towards the social good brings them the greatest satisfaction. Social businesses are very constructive in that those who work in the public sector are able to see through the improvements of the lives of others. It is about relationship-building and finding the best resources for those who need it the most. What isn’t there to love about this journey?
What was extremely fascinating was when our speaker Veena Jayadeva from Grameen America shared with us her story of working in both the private and public sector. I appreciate that she was very honest in her answers about the benefits and challenges of each. From her explanations, it seemed that working in either sector held great rewards, but the public sector was much more hands-on in dealing with the stakeholders. In a mission-based institution like Grameen, the rewards come in the form of having a hand in helping someone else out. It is what all human being strive for, and dedicating to a social business empowers one to dedicate all his/her energy to that effect. Whether we work in public or private sector, having conscientious values will bring greater good to the world.
Log # 6
By: Xandrea Lancaster
Week six of GLOBE was an exciting experience both while preparing and later presenting to the class. My team and I came together the weekend before class and put together a well thought-out Powerpoint that was later edited by my group member Tempest. Because we wanted the presentation to go smoothly, we decided to practice in front of people outside of GLOBE. We figured that it would be a great idea to not only practice in front of others for preparation but also to promote GLOBE.
Once we got to class we were ready to present first. However, the Marketing Team ended up going up to present first. Next up was our team and we were definitely ready to share what we had done thus far and, as we expected, the class responded well. After us, the Finance Team and Enterprise Development Team followed.
I felt so at ease listening to every group’s progress updates. I finally had some insight into what each group was doing. Knowing what each group is doing helps us make better conscious decisions regarding the content we post on our social media sites. Being apart of GLOBE really opens your eyes to different types of people in class. One classmate in particular, Brenna, caught my attention while she presented with the Enterprise and Development Team. She expressed the fact that using a scale to rate the effect of the loan on the borrower was a “cold” and impersonal attempt at measuring success. I would also have to agree with that point. I think there needs to be a more hands-on approach rather than just a scale. Another point brought up was the idea of video taping the borrowers as they conversed with the Daughters of Charity in order to get a better sense of the borrower. These videos would give loan officers a personal introduction to whom they are giving loans to. As a member of the IT Team, I completely agreed with that point. Videos can help provide a humane image that shows both personality and passion, which satisfies the ethos and pathos needed to persuade MFI’s on why they should provide the loan and what risks are associated with the borrower.
Log # 7
By: Brenna Beluk
This week in GLOBE is crazy as we are preparing for our Appreciation Luncheon. But what truly needs to be discussed is the amazing speaker who came to visit us in class. We had a visit from two members of the Grameen America team here in Queens. Our keynote speaker was amazingly inspiring! She had worked for everything from Grameen in India to the private sector to the World Bank. She had experience in everything from development to behind the scenes private work.
I was captivated by her undeniable connection to the women she works with in Grameen America and her hopes and aspirations to work in more and more cities. She was ready with many answers to a lot of our tough questions. She answered some of my many questions; one was specifically about the “group” method that Grameen has in and if there was any American stigma to not working for yourself. To my surprise she said that so far, even New Yorkers, were showing extremely positive signs from the group method and they had loan repayment rates of 98%, absolutely unheard of!
I was of course interested in Grameen’s work in the Enterprise Development and to see if I could put any of their tactics into play in GLOBE. She spoke about the idea of Grameen and “The Pond.” This was the idea that sometimes you can give someone a fishing pole and tell them to fish but if the laws in their community do not give them access to that pond then they cannot gain access to those natural resources. It makes me realize that when we are making recommendations to potential borrowers and Daughters of Charity as good businesses in their countries, we also need to see if we can look into local policy and if they can even utilize the lush resources in their area. It also lit a fire under Team Enterprise to think about expanding outside of our sole microcredit model into more encompassing microfinance mode, hopefully one day adding health services, educational opportunities, and financial development with the help of outside NGOs and non-profit organizations.
Log # 7
By: Chengxi Wang
With regard to the social ethics, Muhammad Yunus criticized many corporate leaders, who seek profits under the veil of well-intentioned behaviors, such as donations and hope village programs. His remarks leave us the impression that for socially responsible business like GLOBE, we should draw a clear line from those for-profit activities, which seem to drag us away from our purpose of improving social well being.
Nevertheless, on the contrary, I believe socially responsible business should leverage the power of for-profit activities to serve the poorest of the poor. In my opinion, there’s nothing inherently wrong with making a profit; the point is how to make a “good” one. Therefore, in order to promote social justice effectively, MFIs should engage both microloan borrowers and commercial organizations in good for-profit activities.
First of all, on the borrowers’ side, MFIs need to encourage borrowers to make big profits, rather than just making both ends meet. According to a case study of Bangladesh by Salina H. Kassim and Md. Mahfuzur Rahman, one major block to the success of microfinance is borrower’s lack of motivation to make profits. Unlike our mindset, the poor and illiterate generally have no incentive to give the best to ensure the success of a business project, since their major concern is on meeting the daily needs. For example, a borrower with five children was more concerned about making ends meet by setting a roadside stall than further improving the business with thoughtful ideas. In this case, even with MFIs’ financial assistance, the poor can hardly break the vicious cycle of poverty. However, the idea of making profits can serve as a catalyst for creative business ideas and greatly improve the poor’s living conditions. Moreover, when MFIs stress the importance of making profits, borrowers can develop independence in the real market, rather than relying on MFIs as a charitable resort. In this way, borrowers can better understand their responsibilities and are likely to reduce the default rate.
Second, on the side of commercial organizations like companies, which put profits at the top of their missions, MFIs can still utilize their positive economic impact to serve social justice better. For instance, in order to build up goodwill, lots of companies donate their products to poor villages or sponsor programs like village schools, and publicize their good deeds as a strategy to delight potential customers. Although mainly driven by selfish profits, what those companies actually do can make a long-term positive difference in the poor area. On the one hand, new technology and ideas are introduced in the isolated, backward areas, which will inspire many creative business ideas. On the other hand, exposure to media attracts people’s attention to the local poverty. As a result, assistance will come from all directions. Therefore, even with different interests, MFIs and for-profit organizations can reach a win-win situation. And the caveat is that MFIs should stick to their mission of social justice and use for-profit activity as an instrument, not an end.
We live in a real world of free markets, where profit-driven activities prevail. As a socially responsible business, GLOBE cannot sever itself from reality and stay in the utopia of good intention. If for-profit activity is a fierce lion, which threatens to destroy the original mission; instead of running away, MFIs like GLOBE needs to learn how to tame it with wisdom.
Log # 7
By: Matthew Larkins
Planning the last couple of weeks for our Donor Appreciation Luncheon has made me realize how important communication is. Transitioning between events and planning took a lot more time then I had initially realized. In the end, I believe we have a great event coming up that will be just as successful as our others. Not only have we stepped up our game this past week but we focused on making sure we each had a job to do. The bake sale coming up on November 18th has had a great turn out thus far; we have a lot of people signed up to bake a different variety of baked goods.
We even received a volunteer who is an aspiring member for GLOBE in future semesters helping out with baked goods. Dr. Sama was nice enough to direct her to me to get more information since she could not yet join. She was very enthusiastic to help out and to help spread the word about GLOBE, it made me realize that our goal of student interaction has been reached early on in this semester. With a great Treat for Change event and some very generous donations we have surpassed where we projected we would be at this time during the semester. There have been great turnouts at both information sessions and it has been a great year for GLOBE with so much more to be done still. My team and I have grown accustomed to taking on roles and ensuring that we communicate endlessly during our planning process.
Dr. Sama has been great in allowing us to work with Scott Van Deusen, who provided us with our very own GLOBE notebooks and pens. In such little time he has been able to provide us with a lot of insight about how to engage our donors in a creative way. Not only will we be able to find out how to communicate with them in a more effective manner, but we will also try to reach out to our other GLOBE supporters.
Log # 7
By: Xandrea Lancaster
Week seven of GLOBE was one of the most intriguing and inspiring classes thus far. This time around, our guest speaker was Veena Jayadeva, a representative who currently works with the Grameen America branch in Jackson Heights, Queens. Along with Veena Jayadeya was a fellow Alumni of both GLOBE and St. John’s University, Hadia Sheerazi.
As we all sat attentively and listened to Hadia reminisce about her time in the GLOBE 2010 class, I could not help but feel inspired. Not only did Hadia become the first Government and Politics majors to take part in GLOBE, she was also one of the first alumni members to work for Grameen America. The same Grameen America started by Muhammad Yunus in Bangladesh that we as GLOBE use as the model for our mission to help those in developing countries. Soon after Hadia’s introduction, Veena Jayadeya began to further explain who she was and her role in the microfinance industry. While she spoke about her goals and desire to give back to others, I realized we had a few things in common. I resonated with the idea that after she finished school her plan was to work in a corporate setting, to gain experience, and then later use that experience to work with a non-profit. She reminded me of why I was initially interested in microfinance.
Coming from a Guyanese family, I want to make it my duty to help those in need. Guyana is a developing country in South America, which is home to other countries such as Brazil and Bolivia- countries GLOBE is very acquainted with. From what I have noticed, Guyana is a small country that I believe can be helped through the efforts of GLOBE. Currently the microfinance sector in Guyana is very small and that is not enough to make a real change. Joining GLOBE has been a means for me to fully understand microfinance and use the information to hopefully, as Hadia, work for a Grameen America that puts forth their efforts in my family’s native country.
Log # 8
By: Christella Dolmo
There is never a moment when you are not learning in GLOBE and although I have learned so much from this class already, these past two weeks have become especially insightful. What I found most insightful is learning about people and their view of the microfinance industry and the direction it is going.
The past two weeks we have had many speakers offer their take on the microfinance industry, the first of them being the speaker from Grameen America. What captured me about her experience was that she was someone who had experienced working in both the non-profit and the for-profit sides of microfinance. What I gathered from her understanding was that she was able to use both to aid in her roles at Grameen. I think what deepened my understanding about microfinance was the fact that currently; the microfinance industry is debating the approach that best suits the industry’s needs. For me, to get the opportunity to listen to someone who sees the value of both was priceless and a good lesson that both approaches could work.
Another person who I gained a lot of insight from was one of our donors during the luncheon. From this donor I learned about what they would like to see from the GLOBE program. They shared with me that they support the GLOBE program because it was a holistic way for students to learn about poverty and the lives of those who live in poverty. Which I agree with, because it was at the GLOBE program that I learned about the daily issues faced by those living in poverty and that in order to offset these social issue, there are somewhat complex ways of managing financial portfolios. I also learned from this donor that to improve GLOBE, we should collaborate with student organizations to spread our knowledge. Although GLOBE has definitely been engaging our students, more of this should continue to be done.
Log # 8
By: Neil Torres
This week has been particular eventful. As a class, had our Appreciation Luncheon. I believe it went well. Every team contributed and had the chance to personally sit with the people who make GLOBE possible. Furthermore, we also had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Morduch. He is a Professor of Public Policy and Economics at NYU. It was very interesting to learn that he is co-author of Portfolios of the Poor: How the World’s Poor live on $2 a Day and the Economics of Microfinance. Since I am part of the Risk and Finance Team, this was truly intriguing because most of class readings are geared to understanding the structures and inner mechanisms of microfinance.
Dr. Morduch discussed some themes that still astonish me. He stated the poor are active money managers. Through my experience I have began to see this through all of borrowers. The misconception is the poor are not adequate enough to handle fiscal responsibility. The poor’s incomes are small, irregular and uncertain; thus, they must always be conscious of their money. Subsequently, the next point was the poor can and do save.
The key to their livelihood and prosperity is through saving and proper money management. They normally save up or take loans- “All loans are advances against future savings.” In addition, another point was that being poor is not just about low incomes; $2 a day is just an average. It is amazing to realize the scale of poverty and how many impoverished function with minimal resources. Lastly, there are presently more risks, yet fewer financial tools. The main idea is that the poor simply do not have the access to financial tools, which is a major detrimental factor. Most of them can barely stay healthy and solving health problems requires solving financial problems.
The health issue is very prevalent in many of the countries GLOBE is currently involved in and where we want to expand. Brendan from the Auditing Team has conceptualized possible health coverage in addition to the loans to the borrowers.
Logically, a healthy borrower would have less risk of defaulting. The concept is still pending and could possibly be a future initiative within MFIs to explore. I look forward to the final stretch and the future success of our program.
Log # 8
By: Gabriella Guzman
This was another stressful, yet fulfilling week of GLOBE. I would say every week I am growing in this class, but as of late it seems to be that I am gaining more knowledge almost everyday. It is hard to believe to that this past week was merely a week because so much was accomplished. On Wednesday we held our Annual Appreciation Luncheon for our donors, as well as a bake sale that took place yesterday in DAC. It was certainly difficult to juggle these two events, which were not small feats, and keep up with class readings, assignments, and working on our team research paper. Meanwhile keeping in mind that we do have the Final Presentation approaching sooner than we may realize, and the raffle, which is our team’s responsibility to plan and make a great success. Yet I do believe that despite all these various factors and tasks to complete, thus far we have had a handle on all our assignments and managed our time.
As I said previously, on Wednesday we had our Appreciation Luncheon and thankfully it went extremely smooth, coming together better than we expected. However, I will be honest and admit that the day before as well as the day of the Luncheon, I was completely stressing out. In my head I was thinking of all the things that could go wrong, from the decorations, to the food, and I even asked myself if anyone would show up. Of course all my worries vanished as soon as I got to campus and saw all my classmates ready and willing to help set up. Our decorations worked out so well and the whole room looked great! Thankfully the food was delivered on time, and tasted absolutely amazing, and luckily we had an overabundance of food. I was so grateful that my classmates contributed a lot to this too by making homemade appetizers, buying refreshments, and being there to clean and set up. Everyone stayed involved all throughout the Luncheon by engaging our guests and especially having fun during the Jeopardy game. I truly can contribute the success of the Appreciation Luncheon to everyone in the class, along with Dr. Sama and Lina.
Also, I mentioned our bake sale that took place Monday, November 18 in DAC from 11AM-3PM. While we were truly excited for this bake sale, we hid a bit of a roadblock. Unfortunately, we discovered that having a bake sale table in DAC is not exactly the most ideal location. Another negative factor was that there was a Diversity Fair going on upstairs, which took away a lot of foot traffic and there were tables of free food being given away. The bake sale was not a completely failure for we did fundraise about $170 and any amount is still significant in my eyes. Although this amount worried me because I am concerned with making our goal, I know that we will be able to pull through and are well on our way to fundraising $2250 for GLOBE.
Log # 8
By: Jabari Bradley
Over the past week in GLOBE, we had a successful Appreciation Luncheon, and a somewhat successful bake sale. Looking back on the Appreciation Luncheon, even though things were done last minute, I think everyone had a great time. I really enjoyed the conversation we had with the Deans at our table specifically. This semester, the deans have been doing a great job at telling students about GLOBE. Our conversation was about the different ways to pitch GLOBE to students and what ways were successful and what ways did not really work well with students. It was great hearing their perspectives on recruiting students for GLOBE. We also had a bake sale that was successful, though not as successful as the Treat for Change bake sale, but was still a great learning experience. We were still able to spread the word about GLOBE and raise a decent amount of money.
I believe our whole class learned a lot from the Appreciation Luncheon and the bake sale. I am sure we will use everything we learned in preparing for our final presentations. We have a lot on our plate right now; rehearsals for our final presentations are in just two weeks. We have big plans for our final presentations and we cannot wait to showcase everything we have done throughout the semester.
Not only do we have these, but we also have our research papers coming up. I have been researching how technology is affecting Kenya, and so far I have been learning a lot through my research. Before my research, I did not know Kenya was so advanced with their technology. I learned that technology is affecting Kenya in many different ways and they are using their technology to better the country as a whole. Even though we have a lot of things to prepare for, I am confident our class will come through and impress at our final presentations and with our research papers.
Log # 9
By: Brendan Latimer
I read an article recently by Zadie Smith in the New York Review of Books. She ruminated on seeing a sketch by a famous Italian artist; it was a picture of a strong man—naked, muscles rippling, back turned toward the audience-- with a corpse slung over one shoulder. Smith could easily identify with the man, vibrant and taut and full of life. Yet the corpse was something else. It gave her an emotion, but no feeling.
The trouble with empathy is disconnection. A higher intellect knows it as a virtue, yet it is hard to realize the actual thing itself. Inevitably, she too will become a corpse, as we all will. Smith tried empathizing with the corpse, but she could not. Something so fundamentally human as the acknowledgment on and discourse of death became a frightening display on the inability to articulate what she could not feel.
Yet she succeeded in conveying the imperative of trying. That is at the heart of GLOBE: having the courage to think the unthinkable, do the undoable. Everything in my life I take for granted-- the water I drink and shoes I walk in. I have the luxury of luxury-- the ability to drink wine and eat good food and ice skate with friends. Our borrowers do not know of these things yet many of them continue to live a life of “luxury”, of fulfillment and culture and love of family.
This Thanksgiving I will host a table full of individuals with the intent of this same kind of joy. By sheer immersion I have come closer to empathizing with our borrowers and with their situation. My conversation, I’m sure, will be full of “Did you know…”, and “That reminds me of…”.
Because even if I will never know the hardship of a weave maker in Nigeria, or a fisherman in India, I will ll be one step closer to knowing what Zadie Smith and the rest of us must always pursue in understanding the higher things; especially those that matter most.
Log # 9
By: Chengxi Wang
In class, we talked about global poverty mapping and MFIs’ role in poverty alleviation; after class, I also participated in the 8th Biennial Vincentian Chair of Social Justice Conference, which highlighted the importance of reducing poverty and social immobility. Apparently, poverty has become a widespread concern, which we are busy finding solutions to. However, in order to have a proper approach to poverty, we need, first and foremost, to have a clear understanding of what poverty is.
Is poverty an absolutely bad thing? According to my working experience in the Hope Village Program and GLOBE, I believe that poverty is not just a negative epidemic to eliminate, but can be a positive asset utilized to benefit the whole human race. In this sense, dealing with poverty is not only about social justice for the suffering poor, but a creative global enterprise that cements the entire human race together.
From a positive perspective, poverty creates two solutions to improve our natural and social environments, respectively. With regard to the natural environment, poverty inspires technological innovation, which helps us use limited natural resources more efficiently. In the areas where poverty persists, the natural environment is usually hostile. In particular, resources like clean water are extremely scarce and limited. In order to survive with limited resources, the poor are forced to think outside the box and come up with ideas how to use the resources more efficiently, which we would never think of with clean water available just out of tap. And it is those ideas under severe circumstances that can motivate many technological innovations, once combined with a scientific approach. For instance, in Africa where limited, muddy water is available during dry season, the poor use a straw tube to suck water in the ground. Inspired by their method, the scientists invented a special straw with a filter inside to separate clean water from mud and toxic chemicals. And this device turned out not only to benefit the poor, but also be widely used among outdoor explorers, who travel in extreme conditions.
Besides natural environment, poverty can inspire improvement of our social environment. Because of limited resources available for each family, the poor usually live in a close-knit community, where they share resources together. And this community-based approach can shed light on teamwork in our modern society. With technological advances, especially in the Internet and social media, people in prosperous areas tend to have less direct personal approach to each other. With abundant resources at hand, it seems that everyone can live independently from each other. However, teamwork still remains an efficient way of working out problems and solving social conflict. In this case, the poor’s teamwork mechanism can help us rebuild a close-knit community in the new social environment.
Therefore, from a fresh perspective, poverty can be a positive asset to improve the entire society. With this new idea, MFIs can create a win-win situation between the poor and the better off, and make a bigger social impact.
Log # 9
By: Gabriella Guzman
In an assignment for class that was due last week, we had to find a relevant article pertaining to microfinance, which has been published within the last year. I found an article online that was apart of a journal/magazine dedicated purely to microfinance that is called Microfinance Barometer 2013. The name of the article I chose to discuss in class was entitled, “The Impact of Microfinance: What Do We Know?” Not only did I find that the article I chose was a great read, but also I enjoyed skimming over the entire journal and doing general research on microfinance. It was encouraging to find so many recent articles, even scholarly journals, have been written and dedicated to the topic of microfinance. This just proves to me that the interest and need for it is increasing all around the world. I was certainly surprised to receive that much feedback when researching microfinance, but it was a great surprise. One can only hope that this means microfinance is becoming more prevalent and hopefully making a truly positive impact on its borrowers, donors, and changing how the world looks at social businesses.
Specifically in the article that I read, the author chose to discuss the impact of microfinance. This may sound rather confusing, because clearly it does have a significant impact, but out of all industries it is extremely difficult to measure if microfinance actually works. The article broke down into three parts exactly how one can look at the impacts of microfinancing. Firstly, the impact of microfinance may differ depending on the target population. Secondly, impact also varies depending on the particular context of operations: microfinance tends to have positive effects in areas with financial access shortage. Eventually, the impact of microfinance also seems to depend on the type of services offered. This article taught me while there may not be a conclusive answer, there are impact studies being done to help figure it out.
In my personal opinion and from statistics, I can truly see the significant and positive impact that microfinance has. In addition to this I know there has been much enthusiasm generated by Muhammad Yunus’ Nobel Prize in 2006; affirmative answers on impact may have been more broadly commented. Furthermore, I believe that GLOBE will continue to succeed, just as microfinance has in many different countries. I believe this because GLOBE is centered on a first-hand learning experience amongst students, and if we keep up this mission and continue to expand, great things can happen. And I know GLOBE can have this same significant impact on the countries we choose to operate in.
Log # 9
By: Xandrea Lancaster
Week 9 of GLOBE focused on microfinance-based articles. As we all presented our articles on microfinance, I noticed a common tone. Unfortunately, the tone of everyone’s articles was negative. Some of the points brought up were on the increase in child labor, microfinance losing its mission, high interest rates (considered the red zone by Muhammad Yunus), and the exploitation of the poor.
I found each point quite interesting. Muhammad Yunus, the founder of microfinance, implemented the concept of the red zone. The red zone measures the interest amount that is suitable for a loan. In my article microfinance institutions received negative backlash because of the high interest rates charged to microloans. From day one in GLOBE, I have always had a problem with the additional interest rate charge. Why charge someone who earns a below average income interest on a loan? I understand the idea is to teach entrepreneurs how to be financially responsible. However, the fact that we give them a loan seems to already be enough of an obligation for the borrowers.
The increase in child labor was a complete shock for me. The microfinance mission has always been to help the head of the family, parents or grandparents, become financially able to launch a start-up business. In GLOBE, we discussed that often the borrowers need money to send their children to school. Enabling parents to become financially stable encourages parents to send their children to school. Learning that child labor has increased as a result of microfinance is alarming. Although it contradicts the purpose, I do not believe microfinance is the blame. However, as a management function, there should be someone available to monitor the progress of the loan.
As far as microfinance losing its mission and exploiting the poor, overall I would have to disagree. I think microfinance is misunderstood. The concept of microfinance is actually genius. But like anything, microfinance is not perfect. Microfinance does not set out to be perfect either. If anything, it is a constant changing industry that tries to better serve its borrowers. One issue brought up in class was, “how do we measure the success of a loan?”
Currently as a method to measure success, microfinance institutions use a number scale to measure happiness. For me, a happiness scale is not the best indicator of success. A happiness scale just seems lack luster and impersonal. Rather than a happiness scale, what about face-to-face interaction with the borrower? Borrowers should be contacted during and after the loan is paid off. The borrower should become an everlasting client that MFIs stay in contact with. A scale would work well in a developed country, especially since people become less social in a technology-crazed society. In a developing country, there should be more interaction on a personal level. When someone comes from an impoverished situation, having a personal interaction with someone who cares is a better indication of success.
Log # 10
By: Ariyo Ojagbamila
In the past few months, I have come to discover something very important in my mission of fighting global poverty. GLOBE has provided me with some important tools, such as poverty mapping, which is the spatial representation and analysis of indicators of human well-being and poverty within a region. Poverty mapping gives a lucid picture of the differing rates of poverty across the different parts of the world. It also helps to know how to target development aid and the varying levels of chronic poverty in different countries to support equitable distribution of resources. The lecture by Dr. Bretton of the Center for Global Development and Social Justice was by far the best guest lecture for me in the semester. The poverty map struck my interest for more knowledge on the varying degrees of poverty and during my research I stumbled across “The Bottom Billion”, in which Paul Collier revealed the fifty failed states home to the poorest one billion people on earth. His analysis revealed that these states have been left further behind in endless poverty and this has generated more concern for solutions in development circles. Even though the war against global poverty remains an issue very dear to my heart, using poverty mapping by scholars such as Collier to analyze global poverty gave me an in depth connection between what I have learnt in GLOBE and my personal research.
Poverty maps not only reveal the areas of extreme poverty in the world, it also shows economic and social marginalization of people and groups even in countries that are prospering economically. More importantly, rather than the traditional methods of using the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the National Income (NI), Poverty mapping uses the Human Development Index (HDI) in its methodology for data acquisition which captures the different components of development, such as life expectancy, literacy rate, and infant mortality rate, in its analysis. GLOBE’s expansion in the future will find poverty mapping a very useful tool to penetrate and operate in more areas of lingering poverty.
Log # 10
By: Moges Beyene
This is our last class before our rehearsal presentation. It is crazy how time goes by so quickly. Although my GLOBE experience is coming to an end, I am glad to say that it was such an exciting and eye-opening journey. It has undoubtedly broadened my horizon sand showed me that not everything is as it seems. What I appreciated the most about this class is the fact that it is action-oriented. It is based on experiential learning. This is in contrast to many of my classes that are purely theoretical. After graduation I have no doubt that I will use the skills I have learned in GLOBE in the real world.
In our previous class, we learned about the importance of risk pooling through micro-health insurance alongside microcredit. Through the video, we saw all the advantages a client of an MFI might obtain by also signing up for health insurance. We also saw in the video that it is can be hard to convince the poor to sign up for these plans. This is because the poor might consider the premium as costs and might not foresee the long-term benefit. In fact, microinsurance might be considered as a sunken cost if the client does not face any accidents in the near future. If a client has any reason to believe that this is the case, it might be wise if he/she sign up for microsavings instead. This allows the clients to collect the money any time they please and prevents them from paying a premium.
The choice of whether to chose from microsavings or microinsurance depends on the client. It is not easy to say one is better than the other since it depends on the case and the situation of the client. Overall, I found the video to be extremely interesting especially since it highlights the challenges one might face in promoting microinsurance.
As Dr. Sama mentioned it last week, this is crunch time. We have our final presentation next week while simultaneously juggling with finals from our other classes. I hope the reminder of the semester is going to be another learning experience where I can gain additional life lessons. I also hope that I get to enjoy the remaining few days as a GLOBE manager with my fellow classmates since we have now become very close friends. I have no doubt that we will all do great in the final presentation and keep on contributing to GLOBE even after we leave the program.
Log # 10
By: Alyssa Jones
While writing this final log, all I could think was- where did the time go! It has been a quick, eventful and educational semester with GLOBE and I cannot believe that it is coming to an end. Throughout the process, I can say that I have definitely learned a lot about event preparation, communication and most importantly, teamwork. This past week was our Thanksgiving Break and the team had to deal with ensuring our final presentation was ready for our mock presentations when we came back. It meant communicating via email for me, since I traveled home, to keep on top of the delegation of tasks and maintaining details so that we can really wow the donors, family, friends, past and most importantly, future managers of GLOBE. The team and I worked really hard to meet our objectives and we are looking forward to seeing the Spring 2014 class carry forward some of our initiatives as well. Most recently, we have implemented our newest fundraising initiative to put out our donation jars around the DAC, Marillac and the Multicultural Office. The idea here was to attract people to give to a good cause, being that Christmas is just around the corner. We believe that sticking to our goal to empower change through bridging the gap between St. John’s students and our borrowers, we can evoke emotion and hopefully gain small amounts of money. It is a way to market the program, as well as raise funds.
We are so close to our objective of raising $2,250! We learned today that we are currently at $2,036, but with the money still coming in from the raffle sales and further matching of donations we should be well over our objective! Seeing the numbers grow is something that really motivates us as a team because we know that we have been able to raise the funds to change the lives of people who truly deserve it. I hope that in our final presentation this really comes across as the main concern to the future managers. If anything, it is important to remember that even though things may get tough throughout the semester, and the deadlines come a lot sooner than you expect, everything you are working towards is for the greater good of a family. It means changing communities, beliefs and the even the world, no matter how small. If I have learned anything from being a GLOBE Manager it is that I know I have the power to change the world. If you believe in something enough and you have the support of such a strong team like I do, you can achieve anything! I will miss being able to work with such a dedicated and reliable team, but I am so excited to learn about how far this program can go!
Log # 10
By: Tempest Francis
Coming to an end is always a bittersweet topic. It saddens me that I do not have the time to execute all the plans that I have hoped for just because it would take time to implement those aspects. Nevertheless, I am proud of what I have accomplished this semester and the fact that I was able to have an impact in the world with the skills that I have and the knowledge I have gained. This experience has helped me gain insight not only on current events, but also on my future endeavors. I have realized through being a part of this program that I do not have to work hands-on with the impoverished to help them; I can empower change in my own way, which I feel is important and where my skills would be most useful. In the beginning of this experience I hoped to make a change in the world, empower women and help those in poverty. Although during the semester, with other life activities going on, my hopes of this had faltered due to the stresses of keeping up. Now being able to remember what I have done this past semester, I feel as I have accomplished my personal goals and more. I have grown as a person to be more compassionate and aware of the people around me.
GLOBE hopes to empower change. This may be viewed simply as in the countries that we have worked in but I can confidently say that it has empowered a change within the students that have had a chance to be in this program.
By: Anneysa Andrews
The GLOBE Microloan Program has been most influential in my life. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn not only about microfinance and its ability to graciously help people out of poverty but also the necessary skills required to run a social business. There are many young individuals who passionately search for ways to make a difference in this world and I am no different. I joined organizations on campus and participated in community service during my years at St. John’s. Although participation in these activities was rewarding, I still yearned to be a part of something more sustainable and fulfilling. This is what GLOBE offered to me. It was this once in a lifetime opportunity to directly and positively impact someone’s life in a way that I could have never done before. It still takes me aback when I think about the fact that a group of students was able to come together and bring about a positive, sustainable change to international communities. GLOBE was not merely a learning experience; it was hands-on participation like I had never experienced it before.
At St. John’s University, it is instilled in us that we should one day apply what we have learned in class in ways that can assist the poor. This Vincentian Spirit is alive in GLOBE. The program not only asks that we recall the useful business skills that we have learned but also serves to teach us about business in a different light. Being a member of the Marketing and Fundraising Team was like no marketing course I had ever taken. Surveying our target population, understanding our environment and its limitations, making use of budgets and finding new and innovative ways to keep costs low and revenues high was just the beginning of the multifaceted responsibilities we faced. GLOBE has definitely sophisticated my skills as a businesswoman.
GLOBE has also taught me about the vast world of microfinance including its origins in Bangladesh, its growth and expansion in both developed and developing countries, and also limitations and setbacks including mission drift.
GLOBE has also challenged me. If I want to help others as I say I do, then I must also be willing to sacrifice the time and energy to be committed and give 100% in my efforts. GLOBE has opened up my mind to think like an entrepreneur when it comes to helping people, not just simply thinking compassionately with emotion, but also logically and creatively. In the future, maybe I will end up in the field of microfinance, or perhaps some other industry that aids people in some way. Regardless, my experience with GLOBE has introduced me to the hybrid that I seek in a career- one that is sustainable, profitable and most importantly, inspires social change.
By: Alyssa Jones
I can truly say that I cannot believe that this journey is over. I have learned so much about business, social change, people and most importantly: I made a difference. Just the other day I was listening to a record by Beyoncé, the song was entitled “I Was Here.” The song depicts Beyoncé’s desire to be known as someone who made a difference in something so much bigger than her and something that will remain even when she is gone. I found that in the second verse of this song, I could actually relate to the lyrics as she sings “…and know that I meant something in, somebody’s life.” This is what my experience with GLOBE has granted me- the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life; the opportunity to change the world, no matter how small. Because of GLOBE I have been able to work hard and selflessly to aid those who are living in extreme poverty- people that I may never meet, people who were not given a chance in their community, that may have faced inequalities and struggles since birth. To grant them the opportunity to change the lives of their families, friends, and communities with an amount of money that we consider so small is mind blowing to me.
What is even more exciting is that I understand the way that it works! From lectures to class presentations to meeting people who work in the field, this class has taught me much more than I expected. Meeting educated people who could have chosen a career that would make them a lot of money, but instead decided that helping others in the non-profit sector was more fulfilling was so rewarding. Most importantly, I was honored to be a part of an initiative to help women worldwide and break the cycle of traditional gender roles! I have done much more than I could have ever thought of upon applying for this course. Being able to work with a dedicated team, who set forth objectives that seemed unattainable mid-semester, but surprising ourselves by surpassing these objectives has made me so proud. Within such a short period of time my team has raised enough money to keep the mission of GLOBE alive, to keep changing lives all over the world.
The expansion of our program to Nicaragua this year means helping more families. I am so glad that I was able to see the way microfinance works first hand, and to be able to fund all three loans with the money that we raised this semester. At the start, it seemed like we had so much time, but time was never really on our side. We pushed ourselves and stayed up late texting one another in the middle of the night to make sure that we had ourselves in check for each event planned. It was a true test of teamwork, but I can really say that I could not have done it without the other four members of my team. Each of us equally put our time and effort toward reaching our objectives and staying on top of our academic work. Now that the presentation and paper are finished, we finally have the time to look back and be proud of our work. I think St. John’s needs more courses like GLOBE.
It is one thing to gain internship experience and to do academic service learning but it is a complete different thing to be a part of change and to hear and see real people tell real stories of hardship and struggle and know that you can be a part of bettering their lives. As rigorous and busy as the semester was, it was definitely worth it because in the end we are taking away much more than just a grade and something to put on our resumes; we mean something in somebody’s life.
By: Brenna Beluk
This semester in GLOBE has taught me a lot of things going into the future. It has shown me, above all else, a stronger connection and respect for systemic poverty alleviation. I have learned a lot about the inner workings of microfinance and the complexities that accompany businesses dealing with the market living in poverty.
Looking toward the future, I want to be a part of a movement like microfinance. I want to attempt to make a change in the system to change the course the world has chosen. I believe if there is going to be a change in America and abroad we need to start with the bigger picture: government programs, the financial system, and international programs. The changes made here can have a much larger and longer lasting impact. Microfinance is a tool in the toolbox for systemic change, working from the largest bottom division of people.
My desire to work in development in the not for profit or non-governmental organization setting has only grown stronger after being a part of GLOBE. Seeing now first hand, the faces and hearing the stories of the people that industries like those touch has solidified my passions for getting involved as well.
GLOBE has also taught me some of the most important lessons in my professional career (without ever leaving the classroom!) GLOBE is a business but GLOBE is also a class, making it one of the toughest classes to balance when to be a student and peer or when to stand out as a leader or specific project manager. Just as I know I will find in my first job and in my last job: every team member has their weaknesses and has their faults, including myself. Embracing what each person is good at and remembering to always delegate tasks and ask for help is something that only made the team stronger.
Overall, my team had its struggles and my team had its little victories. There are moments in this course that I can hold in high esteem for years to come and look back with nothing but pride. GLOBE has opened my eyes and shown me more possibilities for where I can go with my Psychology degree than many of my Psychology courses! I have truly learned a lot about myself this semester as a student, as a leader, and most importantly, as a businesswoman.
By: Xandrea Lancaster
Before being in GLOBE I would have never thought I could be a part of a global movement. I was always an introverted person who wanted to make a change but was unaware of how to execute it. Then I heard about GLOBE and its efforts to alleviate poverty in developing countries. I was instantly sold on the program. I would finally get to be a part of a cause with the resources needed to make an impact.
GLOBE changed my outlook on the world. I was surprised at how empowering microfinance is for women. Women are most likely to receive loans from a microfinance institution (MFI). This is due to the lower risks associated with them. Women usually use the money to provide basic needs for the survival of their families through starting small local businesses within their villages or towns. Knowing that information gave me even more reason to love being a part of GLOBE.
As managers on the Information Technology and Communications Team; we were not a direct part of the loan application process but we still had a major role in GLOBE. As part of the IT Team, were responsible for getting the word out about GLOBE to the St. John’s community as well as to people outside of GLOBE. We used social networking and we implemented videos as a means to showcase what we do in GLOBE. I especially enjoyed working with my team members. They were all supportive and helpful. I could not have asked for a better group of people to work with, it was probably one of the best group experiences I have had throughout my entire college career. Everyone worked with each other’s strengths and weaknesses, which played a huge part on our success as a group. At the end, we were able to fulfill most of our goals and recruit a lot of members for the spring 2014 GLOBE class.
In retrospect, I am glad to have had an experience such as GLOBE. GLOBE has helped me develop my public speaking, leadership, and teamwork skills. These are all essential skill sets that I will apply in the work force. From replying to multiple emails a day to the tough journal critiques, Dr. Sama assures that her GLOBE Managers are nothing less than the best. In a constantly changing economy, being nothing less than the best is the perspective needed to remain on top.