Each semester, students enrolled in the Global Microloan Program will update this site with their weekly program logs. The spring 2013 student teams include Technology and Communications, Marketing and Fundraising, Enterprise Development, Program Impact Audits and Budgeting, and Finance and Risk Assessment.
Marketing and Fund Raising: Jessica Avenia-Gamba, Victoria Hackert, Joanna Michalski, Michael Morettoni*, Desiree Perez
Technology and Communications: Alisa Elsner-Young, Nicollette Lygeris*, Julian Naiken, Arianna Vargas, Sylvia Yu
Finance and Risk Assessment: Gina Frisa*, Jhanelle Gopie, Jamaris Harrell, Felipe Juan, Catherine Sims
Enterprise Development, Program Impact Audits and Budgeting: Emily Atkins, Melissa Kraus, Mina Salib*, Najwa Sobti
By: Mina Salib
When I first joined GLOBE I was unsure about what was required of me, but I was sure that it was something that I wanted to be a part of. What I did know is that GLOBE is a microfinance lending organization that works to help people actively get out of poverty and I knew I had to get involved.
In the summer of 2010 I served in Upper Egypt, which is home to some of the poorest people in the world. This experience allowed me to see first-hand how devastating poverty can be. After this trip I made myself a promise -- that I would do everything in my power to help those who are less fortunate than me. Then I heard about GLOBE and realized that is exactly what this organization has done and continues to do. It has only been a few weeks into the semester and I can already tell how impactful and life-changing this course will be. The amount I have learned about microfinance and the impact it has had in peoples’ lives is priceless, and the very fact that I have a direct hand in helping someone possibly raise themselves out of poverty is so rewarding.
This semester I have the honor of being the liaison for the Enterprise Development Team, which means I am in constant contact with my team and other teams to make sure everything is running smoothly. I also have the responsibility of making sure my team stays on task and meets all its deadlines, which I have found is not a problem because in GLOBE you work with such talented and responsible people. As the Enterprise Development and Budgeting Team it is our responsibility to keep track of our budgets and revenue while also developing new ways to expand GLOBE’s reach across the world. With this in mind, the semester started and we began to compile a list of the goals we wanted to reach by the end of the semester.
One of our major goals was figuring out how we should measure success as an organization. When we give out loans to entrepreneurs we want to evaluate if they were successful in the way they used the money we loaned them. Another major goal was to make business plans for potential entrepreneurs in some of the countries that we will be expanding into in the next year. We would like to give these entrepreneurs guidelines to make sure they are successful in their business ventures. These objectives are in addition to properly budgeting for GLOBE as a whole and translating our loan applications into Spanish, French, and Arabic.
As you can see even though the semester just began we are very busy at GLOBE and all this work is done because we love it. We love the impact and effect that this program has on people that are so worthy of it. Most people are not in poverty because they want to be, but it is because nobody has given them a chance to get out; GLOBE is that organization that gives them that chance and I am honored to be a part of it.
Log # 1
By: Felipe Juan
When I decided to become an economics major in high school, it was all rather random. My reasoning to leave engineering or medical school behind as options was because I saw that if I could possibly understand the way people exchange goods and services, maybe I could be influential. Maybe I could contribute to a cause that would help those in the most difficult of times, who aren’t able to live sustainably. My father thought it was absurd for me to do such and I told him that “I’d much rather serve as a doctor of society”. I have always believed that if you really believe in something, after seeing something fail, maybe after the 50th, the 90th, or the 150th time, your result can be different (of course with the smallest of adjustments each time). So I went against the tide and decided to break the criteria my parents had set for my college of choice and went far.
I remember the first time I was in St. John’s, which was also my first day in NY! I couldn’t help but to be adventurous and to take a leap of faith. Once I was settled and convocation passed, I stumbled across all the programs Tobin (among the other schools) had and what really peaked my interest was GLOBE. I had a little knowledge about microfinance due to a person I spoke with (whom I later worked with for an event) -- someone from ACCION International. ACCION is quite a well-known Microfinance Institution that originated in Venezuela and started among small shanty communities. As I remembered this, I picked up an information form from the desk, as I was too shy at the time to really engage and ask questions. Curiosity just led me to a path of social development through the experience with non-profit organizations and being altruistic as I matured. As time went along, I knew that opportunity would arise and sure enough, I would have my chance to really encompass what I have learned in work experience, class, and through compassion.
Being a part of GLOBE now has finally put me in a position where I could possibly see the different outcome after so many tries. I sometimes forget this is a class and just dive into the culture of places, just to try to have an understanding of what could possibly be done in a region or country. And I’m not a stranger to poverty, at least from the perspective of the U.S. As a child of immigrants, I’ve experienced the homelessness and the declines of loan applications because you’re too much of a risk to invest in. But we’ve never let that put us completely down. Persistence has been the key to the greatest of successes. And even though the success might seem small in one person’s eyes, it could be the success of a lifetime to another.
Log # 1
By: Joanna Michalski
Prior to GLOBE, my knowledge of microfinance was very minimal and consisted of articles and books that I had read in the past or briefly-covered material in my macro and microeconomics courses. Three weeks in and I feel like I have already absorbed a lot of valuable information; this leaves me excited to see where the rest of the semester is headed. Reading the textbooks and listening to lectures in class has been a very enlightening experience so far.
I have already been so inspired that the thought of becoming a social entrepreneur is something that I have started to take seriously. Reading about Muhammad Yunus and his many endeavors to improve the lives of many living in poverty in his home country of Bangladesh is not only enlightening, but motivational as well. His actions reveal that although one person cannot change the world, they definitely can make a big difference in the lives of many. Microfinance allows the money borrowed to be continually recycled so that even more individuals can receive help as time progresses.
Bornstein’s How to change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas also had a strong impact on me, especially the stories of social entrepreneurs in Poland. I have a special interest to those stories because of my own personal connection to the country; both of my parents immigrated from Poland and all of my immediate family still lives there. Having visited my relatives over the years, I have a strong love for the country where my roots are from but as I have grown older, I have also come to see and understand the poverty that still exists in Poland, especially in the countryside where my mom’s family lives. Reading about how social entrepreneurs have made impactful improvements in the lives of many Polish people really hit a soft spot inside of me. Because of my relationship to Poland, hearing about how “my” people are being helped was very touching and further inspired me to find a way to give back.
Life is so much bigger than what we are, or ever will be, and being reminded of this makes us more humble and allows us to be more generous of what we can and are capable of doing for others. The fact that majority of the world’s population lives on less than $2.00 a day is such an upsetting statistic that I cannot help but be moved to action to find a way to help alleviate this. I’m hoping as the semester continues, that I will continue to grow in my knowledge of microfinance and upon completion of the GLOBE course, be better equipped to address the poverty issue at hand.
Log # 1
By: Arianna Vargas
GLOBE has introduced me to the “real world” of microfinancing. What I mean by this, is that I now have a much broader understanding of what microfinance actually is and how it is done. Before joining this class, I thought microfinance was just lending someone money. Now I know that it is not a giveaway or a handout that takes away initiative and responsibility from people. Microfinance encourages self-help and self-confidence. A loan is given but money is not at all the only thing expected in return. Something that proves this is the fact that GLOBE is receiving less than 80-90% of the money loaned back, but we have not stopped loaning money to the less fortunate. The improvement of humankind is the objective. The fact that GLOBE lends money in countries with a high poverty rate shows the fearlessness, lack of personal interest, and motivation the members have toward genuinely helping those who want to but cannot better their situation. If I were to describe GLOBE in one word, it would be humble. I chose this word because GLOBE could lend money to anybody, but instead, the program helps those who lack the most benefits, resources and opportunities.
From the readings, I have learned more about what goes on outside of the classroom. Muhammad Yunus has been an important part of my learning experience as well. Through his book, I was introduced to the Grameen Companies in Bangladesh and now have a better understanding of microcredit. Grameen has accomplished much thus far, from the solar power lamps to the use of bio gas plants to convert common waste products into methane gas that can be used as a fuel for cooking and electricity. It keeps me motivated to know that Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in the world, is gradually being positively transformed. To put it in simple terms, there is a sign of hope for Bangladesh, which means that there is hope for all countries struggling to overcome poverty.
My team and I have very ambitious and clear objectives, which will be accomplished with great effort. I have faith in my team. Before this class, I never enjoyed group-work because I always found myself chasing my group members to hand in their parts on time. In contrast, my team is so united, enthusiastic, and focused, that my opinion of group-work has been completely altered. I feel that Dr. Sama was very wise when she put the teams together. GLOBE Spring class of 2013 has a bright future.
Log # 2
By: Emily Atkins
Last week, Dr. Sama had a guest speaker come in to work with us and perform a group “structured activity” which turned out to really be a game to test our capacity to work together as a whole. I realized after this exercise that it is the responsibility of the class to combine our efforts and work towards a common goal, despite our team designations. Though my team figured out very early on in the exercise that the point was to work together as part of the same company (giving us confidence that we were on the right track), we still had a moment of realization when it came to GLOBE- if one team doesn’t perform their duties, it will reflect poorly on the entire class as well as Dr. Sama and all the administrators that have made this program happen. For the next week, my goal is to push myself and my team to reach out to the other members of our class and get a sense of their progress as well as use what they have done to further our own goals. As the Enterprise Development, Auditing, and Budgeting Team, much of our progress depends on the work of the other teams; without constant communication and cooperation, our full potential cannot be reached.
Throughout my educational experience, I have always been the type to opt for individual assignments rather than group projects to avoid interdependent relationships that risk failure if one person doesn’t contribute. Today, I learned that this attitude could stem from the overall individualism present in the fabric of the society and culture in America, which I grew up in. Through the lecture and guest speaker Anthony Trujillo, I realized that this concept should be taken into account when organizing loans or analyzing possible strategies for every community we take into consideration for borrowing. In my reading, Muhammad Yunus stressed the importance and success of group loans in Bangladesh; however, this system would not be as successful in other countries such as Mongolia where people are untrusting of anyone outside their familial circle. While Mr. Trujillo maintained the idea that group processes were beneficial, he also explained that in individualistic societies such as Mongolia, it was easier to approach groups in family settings rather than trying to pair up strangers, who ultimately wouldn’t trust each other.
As I learn week by week to work in groups and as a class collectively, my team will begin developing our research paper this week. Today we met with the Finance Team to get a better idea of which regions we hope to deal with. Our goal is to formulate possible business strategies and plans that will work in each specified region at hand, in our case: The Middle East, Ghana, Nicaragua, Jamaica (Caribbean), and The Philippines. This week, we learned that it is important to pay vital attention to the culture and customs of the community we are dealing with, particularly when it comes to stressing group loans on people that may not be so willing to accept such an idea. While working together is an extremely important factor in success, it is even more important to respect the culture we are dealing with and learn to adapt to whatever standards necessary to make us more understanding and able to further our borrowers’ success.
Log # 2
By: Jhanelle Gopie
For the last week or so, the Finance group has been reading about country context and its importance when it comes to microfinancing. A country’s context is the different aspects that make the particular country unique from the rest of the world, such as governmental regulations, cultural impacts, economic mobility, and others. This past week, we read an article about Nigeria and the demand for microfinance institutions. At first, the article discussed the importance of Islam to poverty-stricken countries and it truly shocked me. Maybe it’s because I am not heavily involved in religion, but I never realized how much someone’s faith could alter his or her moneymaking decisions. One of the statistics in the article stated that most Muslim-practicing Nigerians would leave their current banks if there were a bank strictly based on Islam banking principles. Some Nigerians don’t even have a bank or an ability to borrow or invest because they are strictly against the interest laws placed on the banks at hand. That is amazing! It is amazing to know that there is something more important to people than money. You would think that living in such a culturally diverse society, people would find something that gives them passion and drive other than simply making money.
This article and its statistics speak volumes as to what helping others can do for you. People like to believe that those who live in poverty solely want to be rich or accumulate some type of wealth. Privileged people assume that the less-fortunate are looking for “get-rich-quick schemes” and that nothing else matters. However, that is not the consensus of the entire poverty-stricken community. Yes, people living below the poverty line in Nigeria want wealth and want to be able to provide for their families to the best of their abilities; however, their love for Allah and faith in Islam is far more important than the value of a dollar. They know that if they do away with their religion to make a quick buck, that it could affect what happens to them in the afterlife. I’m so used to seeing and reading about people who are willing to step on anyone to get to the top that it was so extraordinarily refreshing to know that there are people who are different from this.
Log # 2
By: Michael Morettoni
This week was tough. Everyday I learn how important clear and constant communication with my team and the other managers truly is. All of the teams,
Marketing included, have big time goals for the semester and the only way that we can achieve them is to be clear about our needs from our fellow managers and teammates. The need for communication has become so very clear as we approach our first fundraiser of the semester, a bake sale. Bake sales tend to have modest fundraising association; but I like to imagine that a single bake sale’s revenue is enough to fund an entire GLOBE loan for one of our borrowers in Vietnam or the Democratic Republic of Congo. With that perspective, to our borrowers, our little bake sale is less modest and more major—hopefully a viable pathway out of poverty.
This week we had a guest speaker from the Peace Corps, Anthony Trujillo. His story was pretty remarkable, spending 27 months in Mongolia teaching schoolchildren English. Although his aim was recruitment, I took some important lessons away from his presentation. Cultures around the world can be vastly different from each other and as a result, care must be taken when brokering business deals. Furthermore, when dealing with businesspeople in other nations, it can take a long time to build trust. Building that trust, no matter how long it takes, is imperative to a successful relationship.
The Marketing Team is finally making some headway on its semester’s goals. Just in this past week we have finalized our print awareness campaign copywriting and created our survey to gauge the base level of on-campus GLOBE awareness. On a side note, in my explorations around campus to fulfill some of my GLOBE related tasks, I have been amazed at the kindness of those who do know about GLOBE. It is not uncommon to meet people who participate in similar clubs or organizations on campus, but it is different for those who have a shared stake in GLOBE. We all understand the hard work that goes into running this unique organization, and the incredible return that we all get from it.
Log # 2
By: Alisa Elsner-Young
Today's class lecture on Microfinance, Gender and Multiculturalism presented me with the controversial idea of Hofstede's Model of National Culture. Hofstede essentially says that a society can either be masculine or feminine based on certain attributes. I believe his idea is very controversial because often people tend to shy away from making such a gender distinction. I also believe that is where people can go wrong. Microfinance has found its place in the market precisely because, as an industry, such a distinction has been made.
I've been very interested in the concept of masculine and feminine qualities of society since I first came across the idea in a book by my favorite author Robert Anton Wilson, entitled Ishtar Rising. He actually refers to society as patrist or matrist. A patrist society typically has a restrictive attitude toward sex, sees women as inferior or sinful, is politically authoritarian, is conservative and resistant to change and maximizes sex differences. A matrist society on the other hand, enjoys freedom for women, grants women higher status, is democratic and progressive and minimizes gender differences. Strangely enough, Wilson says that a patrist society fears pleasure while a matrist one can be described as hedonistic. Using Japan as an example of a masculine culture, according to Hofstede, Wilson's description of a patrist society is consistent.
While the borrowers that our industry serves are not entire societies yet, they have the potential to change the status quo, at least for their children. It seems that a patrist or masculine environment would entirely hinder this said potential. I have heard people in New York say that Wall Street is "a man's world." There may be some truth to this simply because it’s mostly men who have the cash, the cold hard cash. Well, let's put money in the hands of women and watch a matrist marketplace flourish for the base of the pyramid.
The very nature of microfinance is feminine all around. It has granted many women and their families freedom and higher status. Microfinance is most importantly progressive, spontaneous and creative. When dealing with microloans, a masculine (Western) mindset is focused on high profit margins but a feminine mindset can innovate, planning for long term sustainability. Eventually, a certain country improved by microfinance would become accustomed to women living in financial autonomy and gender differences could be diminished, if not eradicated.
By: Najwa Sobti
The Peace Corps had always been in the back of my mind but even to this day, I have fear of joining from so many different directions. I feel that my family won’t approve of the idea that I should get into my career as soon as I graduate. In a sense, they are banking on me. Since I am extremely inspired to work in many underdeveloped countries, the Peace Corps could ultimately help me help the world. I have recently felt so pressured in some of the courses I have taken and programs I am in to describe something “interesting” about myself. I feel I haven’t found my calling or myself, therefore; I feel that I have only sustained thus far, rather then truly live! I feel I have worked hard but there is nothing interesting as of yet to show for it. I have gone about my day and don’t feel as though I am doing what I have to do but rather, merely meeting my basic level of survival.
This is how I feel very close to a lot of the women that we discuss in GLOBE. Many of them feel pressure from their families or fear they will not approved of if they take a loan from multiple microlending agencies. Although they see it as the best decision for themselves and could possibly benefit everyone involved, they still place their family on a pedestal as the deciding factor.
I also come from a Muslim background and it is very difficult to establish as a woman that you want to do something entirely for intrinsic value. Everything you do is essentially for your family; there is no self. But what I think GLOBE does, is it makes lending not entirely a self-virtuous step but more group-oriented with common goals.
I can only hope that I can make the right decision pertaining to participating in the Peace Corps, as the women in these poverty stricken communities have done while having to face a life-changing choice.
GLOBE has truly inspired me to believe that I must be bold enough to take the proper steps to ensure I make the right decisions pertaining to my future aspirations.
Log # 3
By: Catherine Sims
There is a program similar to GLOBE in Houston, TX at St. Thomas University called the Social Entrepreneurship Program (SEP). I am curious to learn about them because I had a hunch that seeing some of the challenges they faced, their solutions to those challenges, or even something as simple as their website would be useful to us. A few other members of the class saw the website and it inspired them to make changes to our own website which I find really exciting. Taking the material that we’re learning and finding ways to apply it to our challenges with our unique situation is only possible when we look outwards at what other successful MFIs are doing and even backwards to what past GLOBE managers accomplished in order to make progress.
The high expectation Dr. Sama had for our class will come to fruition. The ambitious objectives we all started with at the beginning of the semester are being tackled piece by piece. The Finance Team’s objectives of really building connections and figuring out an efficient way to track the loans are being met as we zero in on exactly what we want to communicate to the Daughters of Charity to ask for their help. While we have a lot of work to do on our end, we really could do more to help them do their jobs as well as possible.
Communication between all of the teams seems to have improved greatly as we are collaborating on projects to raise awareness through the survey created by the Marketing Team and utilizing the new Facebook page created strictly for communication among the teams by the IT Team. A number of us have even reached out to past GLOBE Managers for their input and ideas about our current ventures. The Finance Team is working with the Marketing Team to figure out the best way to acquire funds for the GLOBE Student Fellows Fund. We are making leaps forward and I really would like to continue the trend of making changes incrementally to address issues that have fallen by the wayside in years past.
Log # 3
By: Michael Morettoni
Our bake sale was a smashing success! We raised just over $300 by selling baked goodies donated by the GLOBE managers. In my last post I recognized how important, and sometimes difficult, communication among the different teams can be. Even though it was trying at times to reach the other team members, in the end, we all came together beautifully; I really was most pleased with the collaborative teamwork. Our table was overflowing with the donated baked goods and was always staffed with managers eager to spread GLOBE’s message. We even had managers hand-delivering the GLOBE message and baked goods throughout campus. I was impressed and reassured of the commitment that we all took together when we joined the class.
The Marketing Team has also begun serious research for our term paper, investigating the possible mission drift within the Microfinance industry due to the introduction of ‘for-profit’ MFIs. Our research is preliminary, but our findings so far are disturbing. Our mission in GLOBE is to alleviate poverty through the financial empowerment of entrepreneurs in the developing world. Introducing profit margins and stakeholders can certainly disrupt the social mission that many MFI’s, including GLOBE, hold dear.
This week we read a chapter of Muhammad Yunus’ book, “Banker to the Poor”, which detailed the efforts to bring microfinance outside of Bangladesh and into developed nations. Our time in class so far has been devoted to learning the concepts of microfinance and their applications in the countries that GLOBE has actual borrowers (Vietnam, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, etc.). So I was surprised to learn that the principles and methods of the Grameen bank could be so easily applied to the poverty stricken areas of the United States. Yunus visited with notable politicians and community leaders, like Bill Clinton, in Arkansas, Chicago, Harlem, and many other centers of poverty. While reluctant initially, the methods and ideology of the Grameen bank were adopted and eventually succeeded.
The most important lesson from this chapter was that poor do not deserve to be stereotyped or defined by their poorness, even though they may feel that way themselves. In every rural town and urban center Yunus visited he was met by creative, hardworking, and eager people who only needed opportunity to help better themselves. Negative characterizations about American individualism or American reliance on welfare are dangerous and shallow because, as Yunus and his associates proved over and over again, the poor are just as resourceful and have just as much humanity as anyone else with a degree or a full wallet in their pocket.
Log # 3
By: Nicollette Lygeris
From the classes we have had, I have learned that teamwork is very valuable. This is something that I have learned through experience and from presentations, guest speakers, and readings; it is very important, especially in this class.
This week I was excited to announce the new objectives I had for the week. The website will finally be updated along with the e-Portfolio. Since I have asked to be the new team liaison, I have noticed I have a lot more responsibilities and tasks, as a leader of the IT Team. One thing I learned about was time management. This is essential when dealing with a group. Since we have 5 members, it is hard to meet with everyone and get things settled. I've learned that you need to work with people’s schedules accordingly, as well as be prepared at meetings. This may come across to some people as a concept of common sense, however; the simplest things often tend to get overlooked. When organizing a meeting, you need to realize that it must accomplish the goal at hand. Communication is key. In order to effectively communicate, you just make your goal clear as well as come up with strategies to make that goal clear. I jotted down ideas and tried to make them concise and communicate them to our group. We all exchanged ideas and wrote them down. As far as successful teamwork, I think we've achieved success.
In class we spoke about the difference between wants and needs. Our starting point of discussion was about people that were considered 'lowered class' and what their monetary needs would go toward initially, as opposed to people that lived 'comfortably.' This is when critical thinking comes in… people who are using their every penny toward something useful would certainly use their money for the basics: food clothes and shelter. Family plays a role as well. People who work for needs as opposed to wants would work for food on the table, clothes and rent. Anyone who is working will tell you those are their goals. However, those who are middle class will say the same things, but it does not mean the same. This class has made me humble myself and realize that our ‘needs', when it comes down to it, are actually wants. In other words, the phrase ''I need shoes'' in middle class terms actually means “I need a NEW pair of shoes.'' Those who don't have any extra money do not buy new things because they don’t FEEL they need to buy new shoes; they buy new shoes because their shoes are torn and tattered. Middle class people do not live the luxurious life but they do have the luxury of buying shoes to feed their wants or just their monetary urges. This class has taught me to realize that there are differences between wants and needs.
In conclusion, this ties into my idea for our group paper. I have chosen the idea of technology and how it is used in developing countries. For us, technology is more of a want than a need. People in developing countries would need something like this. Access to technology can open so many more doors. With technology you can gain knowledge, connection with others, and so much more. I am excited to see what this week leads to, as I will be helping out the Finance Team as well.
Log # 4
By: Melissa Kraus
This past week in GLOBE has definitely been busier with events and tasks than the previous past couple of weeks. With research outlines, upcoming events, and work within our groups; I am starting to see how much effort and time goes into a program like this, and while challenging at times, I’m positive that all our hard work will pay off! My team, (Enterprise Development) is currently working on translating documents, auditing for the class and the field, keeping track of the budget, and trying to put together an event at the Hudson Station. Like I said, there is a lot to be done, but our team is great!
The reading that I was assigned this week was David Bornstein’s book, “How to Change the World”. Bornstein outlined a great point in Chapter 12 when he said, “Resources had to be placed in the hands of people who would really use them well.” In short, give resources directly to the people who will be doing the work instead of going through the distribution channels of foreign aid and government spending, which have proven to be problematic. I also read that entrepreneurs have found ways to put children and youths in charge of problem solving and decision-making. I think that putting some power into the hands of young people is so beneficial. Young people are open minded and more open to change than older people, who sometimes can get stuck in their ways. However, the idea was that the young people in the villages could teach the new ideas and methods to everyone else.
Also, I think my favorite section of the book so far had to be the tips on how to be a successful social entrepreneur. It is not only useful information to know for GLOBE but for future career paths as well. Bornstein talks about how self-correction is a very important element of being a social entrepreneur. It’s okay to admit you made a mistake and move forward. Bornstein said all successful entrepreneurs do this. I also learned that you should always give credit where credit is due. It made sense to me because if you compliment and motivate your fellow workers, it creates a sense of camaraderie. Another important lesson I read about was that it’s also okay to work quietly. Some people work for years advancing their work and organizing their ideas, in relative obscurity. It is only after much hard work that someone is recognized for his or her efforts.
Log # 4
By: Jamaris Harrell
Today Sister CJ from the Sisters of Charity was the guest speaker for our class. She gave an interesting presentation on how “a living loan of a cow can be the start of helping a family out of poverty.” The families were trained and had to prepare their homes before actually receiving the cow. Then once they received the cow and the calf was born, they raised it for nine months. After those nine months, they gave the calf to another family to care for. I thought that it was great how the people in the town were learning both responsibility and sustainability by just taking care of a cow.
It was amazing to see how beneficial just one cow was to a family. Because of a cow, children were able to go to school since they no longer had to walk extremely far just to get wood. Because of a cow, the entire town had electricity since they used the cow’s manure for biofuel. Because of a cow, poor families finally had a steady income. This really made me realize how any little thing can help.
Sister CJ also made another great point when she said, “Microcredit invests in people so they can advance themselves and the generations that will follow them.” People often want to make a change in their lives and don’t always know how to go about it. “People have the right, the will, and the capacity to direct their own future.” Many people often have the misconception that just throwing money at others will help them, however this is not the case. In order for there to be a change, we have to provide people with the proper training and tools to transform their own lives. Without these tools, people won’t know what to do with the resources and help that they are provided with and will end up back where they started.
I think that it was a great suggestion for us to get to really know our current borrowers so that we can see what is working and what isn’t. This way we can find ways to improve whatever isn’t working. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks.” We are constantly going to have new ideas and some may be more successful than others. However, we have to stay on track and focus on the big picture no matter how many mistakes we make. It takes a long time and a lot of trial and error to get things right. I think that once we do get it right, we will have a great feeling of accomplishment.
Log # 4
By: Joanna Michalski
There were a few key moments for me during Nicholas Kristof’s and Sheryl WuDunn’s “Half the Sky” presentation. The first one was when Nicholas Kristof described his experience of purchasing two young women out of prostitution. Describing how he paid for two women and received legitimate, physical receipts stating his purchase of the two women was nothing short of disturbing. He stated that he was shocked that something so profoundly wrong still occurs in the 21st century but it is a testament and a call for change.
Another moment that stuck with me was when Nicholas Kristof shared the story of a young girl who was married off to a sixty-year-old man at the age of 12 and became pregnant. Given her young age, she had complications during birth and as a result suffered from chorioamnionitis. Her village banished her and left her to fall prey to the hyenas. In her awful state she managed to fend off the hyenas at night and for the next two days crawled 30 miles to an American ministry where she was able to get help for condition. Upon healing, the ministry recognized her talents and intelligence and took her on as an employee of the hospital where she eventually became a nurse.
Hearing such stories is astonishing and eye opening; it reveals how sheltered of a world we live in. Kristof and WuDunn’s presentation made me to agree with their statement that women’s rights and health initiatives are left out of world news and go by largely un-noticed. This allows for injustices to continue occurring against women worldwide. The main reason ifor this is that there is a lack of interest in such subjects, which just leads to another disturbing revelation about human nature and behavior: individuals do not want to be disturbed from their “perfect” lives to reflect and be affected by the injustices being done to others worldwide because they do not want such revelations or acknowledgments to affect their own happiness. Selfishness and concern for one’s own happiness (or their definition of supposed happiness) leads a majority of individuals to ignore major issues at hand due to the frame of thought that if they do not acknowledge and think about the issues, then it is easier for them to believe that these injustices do not exist and thus allow themselves to go through their lives guiltless about not contributing their help in some way.
When Sheryl WuDunn reflected that all of us sitting in the presentation room were presented with the “lottery of life” and the “good fortune” and that is was our duty to help those who were not as fortunate, this really struck me hard because it was indeed the truth. How can an individual truly be happy, knowing that they have far more than someone else and not help him or her if they are able to do so? I was raised to put on my plate only what I can eat and not be wasteful because there are too many good people in this world that go hungry, and even die due to hunger each day. As human beings, our primary duty should be to care for those who are less fortunate than us, to help them get up on their feet so that they in turn can help out another less fortunate individual. It’s a cycle of life that should be a primary focus for everyone, but only a select number of individuals actually take it into consideration. With so many resources spread across the world, and so many brilliant and talented individuals who have many great and strategic ideas, there is no reason why poverty should exist. No one should go to bed hungry. No one should die of hunger.
Log # 4
By: Sylvia Yu
The ideals behind GLOBE continue to touch into multiple aspects of my life. Just before our GLOBE class, I had the pleasure of attending the “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” event with the speakers Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Nicholas told many touching stories about the endless possibilities that stem from empowering women. He reinforced the notion that just giving monetary aid is not enough, there has to be continuous monitoring of the process and the support given. He stressed that education can be a way to empower women to provide for themselves and their communities.
When Nicholas spoke about brothels and how at times women were the ones that continued the oppression of women, I was deeply saddened. As a woman myself, I would hope that no one (male or female) willingly oppressed women but the fact that a woman is willing to sell another woman is just unspeakable. I wonder if the brothel owner has ever thought of the fact that the she could be the one being sold. I can’t say that I was completely surprised of such events, because even in the 21st century, there is still inequality in the world. What I have resolved to do is to be someone who makes a difference in women’s lives around the world and not negatively impact women, or anyone else for that matter. Sheryl WuDunn, Nicholas’ wife, also spoke at these occurrences and she highlighted the fact that education and microfinance are two ways to fix some of the injustices around the world. Providing someone with education will give them a new outlook on life and microfinance will be the source of capital that they once were not able to receive. This ties in beautifully with GLOBE, we seek to educate others about people in the developing countries and provide potential entrepreneurs with the capital that they would otherwise not be able to obtain.
During class Caroline Willie, a Sister of Charity, came to speak to GLOBE. She spoke of the organization that she runs that provides a pregnant cow to families in Uganda. The organization provided training for the families to take care of the cow and required work before the cows were distributed. The village would be responsible of taking care of the cow and eventually every family in the village will have one. Due to the great care the cows received, they were able to provide plenty of milk to the families; the extra milk was sold. This created a profitable business environment for the village and thus it continues to be self-sufficient. This is a great story and GLOBE should seek to reach this a goal for the future. Changing lives one loan at a time.
By: Najwa Sobti
Last week was very interesting in terms of my relationship with microfinance. Unfortunately, I had to defend it to many individuals critiquing it and its impact. After listening to the Half the Sky lecture with Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof on campus, many of my professors were frustrated by the message the book was expressing. Many of the critiques pertained to the hindrances of microfinance. Not only was that an issue, but also the fact that many people wanted more of an international pressure than a grassroots relief effort. What I had to express was that though these were issues worth considering, the grassroots approach was alleviating poverty in some of the various forgotten villages. Then I was asked to write a paper choosing one of the grassroots projects noted in Half the Sky. I chose The Grameen Bank, in hopes of not only writing the paper, but also reinforcing the information I learned in GLOBE. One thing I found for certain is that microfinance, unlike many grassroots projects, is a system in which needs to be studied extensively. That’s what I think makes it so different and so important. One issue that really stumped me and I feel needs to be addressed is the concern of domestic violence between spouses and the group-lending model. I also wanted to find out if any of our borrowers have had to experience such a situation. These questions are extremely vital and necessary if we aim to accomplish growth in this field. Women who fear such violence would not want to borrow and would not leave their husband. After these discoveries it became knowledgeable that microfinance is webbed into systems of knots and tangles and we have to make sure we don’t just place the loan in such a web but actually aim at untangling it.
Then I realized that money might not be the best form of loan. This was something I did not think of right away. Our visitor Dr. Caroljean Willie and her presentation “A Bishop, A Cow and a Way Out of Poverty” left a lasting impression on me. What that program did was create a systematic and extremely thought out way out of poverty. I was surprised at what a flawless program it was. What I found very profound was the statement: “People have the right, the will, and the capacity to direct their own future.” I also thought that the donation system was beautiful. Giving people solid choices and something to correlate with their donation, such as a $10 ear, is something we should think about; this donation may not be literal but on Microdonation Day we could have cards that state: $5 –Pride, $10- Hope, and so on. I think this model can definitely express what we are aiming at accomplishing while also displaying important messages. Donors feel better when they can match their donation with something relevant to the cause.
I began thinking in terms of expansion to the Middle East and how this system is probably the best for some of the agricultural areas. I also found that the Moroccan government proposed microfinance in one area of Morocco. All of this information is necessary and expansion is a very complicated task; being the best informed rather than thinking in terms of execution of tasks is essential. I began to discuss this with a family friend who works with an exchange program in conjunction with Iona College, which is also a Catholic university. Finding that Morocco has invested very much in microfinance, I felt the need to ask if my friend who organizes the program knew about microfinance. Surprisingly enough, he had never heard of it. We determined that we would speak about it more thoroughly at a later time. But out of this brief conversation, I learned there is not a saturated “market” in terms of the presence of microfinance institutions. I also learned that the objective of expanding to the Middle East is probably the most difficult for us to address, but with diligence and hard work, it is quite achievable. Microfinance and the work we accomplish in GLOBE is not something we can do over-night. With a clear head and the right goals in mind, while also staying academically informed, we can accomplish these large tasks.
Log # 5
By: Gina Frisa
It is really hard to believe we have already reached the middle of the semester. Something that took us time to grasp was sorting and having a good understanding of all the data we have. It was a challenge to navigate through all the files. In the remainder of the semester it is really important that we better organize all the files in our possession so that it will be both easier for us and for future semesters to find specific files.
What we have done thus far in the semester includes: establishing connections, loan tracking, and working with all GLOBE teams. Establishing connections was an extremely important goal for us because by being able to communicate directly with the Daughters, we can better aid our borrowers and respond as quickly as possible to any issues that may emerge.
This weekend, communication with Sister Pascale in Vietnam was initiated. I drafted an email and included a Loan Update Questionnaire. We have an Evaluation Form created by last semester’s Finance Team, however; that form is only applicable when repayment of a loan has been completed and thus would not be applicable to Vietnam. We look forward to hearing how our borrowers in Vietnam are doing.
This week communication with Sister Barbara in the Congo will commence. I will create another Loan Update Questionnaire specific to the Congo to it send to her. We will also be communicating with Sister Deborah in Kenya and Sister Fidelia in Nigeria and send them both country-specific questionnaires and evaluation forms.
Another objective we have been working on is loan tracking. In collaboration with the IT Team, we created an interactive map so we can better visualize the locations of our Daughters and borrowers. In addition, I updated our loan tracking spreadsheet. Firstly, I removed borrowers who have repaid their loans and the loans that have been written off—this way we can focus on our current borrowers. To help see when loans are coming due I applied conditional formatting to our loans: loans past due are red, loans due this year are green and loans due in 2014 are purple. With this visual tool we can flag loans that seem to be problematic.
We have done a really good job so far this semester in communicating within our own team and with the other teams as well. We have matched up with the Enterprise Development Team in our research projects to produce a collaborative effort. As stated above, we previously collaborated with the IT Team to create an interactive map. Lastly, we collaborated with the Marketing Team and met with Anne Marie to discuss the feasibility of a GLOBE Student Fellows Fund.
The meeting with the Marketing Team and Anne Marie was extremely successful. We had questions, such as how to keep such a fund sustainable and how to address donors about using GLOBE funds for field visits. Field visits are extremely important because they give students a better understanding of the poverty our borrowers undergo and therefore, allow them to better able to aid our borrowers. Every field visit that has been conducted thus far has resulted in further loans. Michael made a valid point of GLOBE being two pronged: for our borrowers and for student experience. Donations for the GLOBE Student Fellows Fund would “support the learning experience of students through field work”. We also discussed the effect GLOBE has had on alumni. We plan on taking advantage of the event at the Hudson Station to ask alumni what they are currently doing in their field, how GLOBE has affected them, and how/if they are continuing to make a difference.
We have done a lot but we still have more to do. One thing we still need to accomplish is creating our borrower and country risk profiles. Once we set up all the profiles, I would like to create a database using Microsoft Access. Looking at the information we have, we will assess the success of our borrowers and their regions. Another assignment that is currently in progress is our research paper. For our research project we will be conducting research in several countries (Nicaragua, Ghana, Morocco, Jamaica, and the Philippines) to determine whether microfinance (specifically for GLOBE) can succeed. In addition, we still need to research leaders in the field. Based on that research, we will have a good understanding why those MFIs succeeded, what they can improve on, and if there is anything we can apply to GLOBE.
Log # 5
By: Jessica Avenia-Gamba
This week my team focused on the main issue affecting GLOBE: the lack of knowledge about microfinance on campus. We launched the poster campaign and we are hoping it will have a lasting impact on the students who see them. Every week the posters will change and evoke a different message about microfinance. I strongly believe this campaign will be a success, especially with all the feedback we’ve already been getting. I must reiterate the fact that without these crucial steps GLOBE will not reach its highest potential. Raising awareness on campus is a local start that will create a support system leading to an effective global outcome.
The poster campaign is another great accomplishment for GLOBE this year. However, there is much more that can be done in order for GLOBE to gain recognition and support from our fellow students. Our Microdonation Day will be our way of pushing GLOBE expansion. If GLOBE members show their presence all around campus, it will be difficult for the program to be ignored any longer. In addition, we have been presented with a great opportunity to reach the student body. Common, a well-known and respected rapper, will speak at the university about getting involved in the community and his experiences with volunteer work. It is not directly connected to the mission of GLOBE and microfinance, but it will help students be more open to learn about it. I saw this as the perfect moment to grab students’ attention and hand out information about GLOBE as they wait for the event to begin.
If we, as college students, can create change and begin to think globally we can have an immense impact in the future. This program is allowing us to open our eyes and view the world in an entirely different way. We are being given the tools to make a difference in people’s lives just as our borrowers can be given the tools to succeed in their businesses and provide for their families. Eventually, I would like to see GLOBE provide training and possibly send students to these countries to teach them how to manage their money and businesses, increasing our loan repayment rate in the long run.
Log # 5
By: Alisa Elsner-Young
Midterm week, yikes! During busy times like these, it is easy to lose sight of our priorities. Luckily, I am part of the deeply committed IT team, led by our tireless leader, Nicollette. I am proud to say that despite all of our hectic schedules, we managed to meet in real space last Friday (we normally meet in virtual space) and have kept in constant contact regarding our midterm presentation, our regular social media duties, and upcoming projects such as the final video. Over the past few weeks our group has bonded and learned how to communicate with one another. We all have our different talents: Sylvia is a computer genius, Nicollette is a terrific correspondent, Julian is a number cruncher, and Arianna is super creative when making up posts. Regardless of our talents, we have all done our best to attend GLOBE events. The information session yesterday proved to be success and we had three representatives from the IT team there!
While the midterm presentation required a bit of preparation, I found it to be a helpful measure of our progress. I especially enjoyed hearing what the other teams have been doing since up until this point I was really only sure of what the Marketing Team does. It is truly exciting to hear how much our class has already accomplished. The midterm assessment was also a useful tool for gauging how thorough my understanding of microfinance is. I surprised myself at times with how much I have retained. Still, my knowledge is limited and I am finding out how many layers there are to microfinance. For example, in preparing for the midterm I read the article “Microfinance in Nigeria and the prospects of introducing its Islamic version there in the light of selected Muslim countries’ experience.” I did not realize that cultural differences could be so important, and that something like an interest rate is not possible in certain regions. But this is what microfinance is all about: supplying credit to those that cannot otherwise procure it. So while certain MFIs have to figure out how to reach scale in a rural region, other MFIs have to find ways to maintain a sustainable credit institution without charging interest. Talk about thinking outside the box! As well, I read that IMFIs (Islamic microfinance institutions) do not favor female borrowers but offer equal treatment to men and women. Considering the patriarchal Islamic status quo, this is a significant improvement. However, the concept of supplying microloans to men as much as to women strays from the original mission of microcredit. These are all practical concerns that microfinanciers have to consider as the industry evolves.
Log # 6
By: Emily Atkins
The time is quickly approaching to make more substantial efforts towards the development of my research paper about possible business plans in Nicaragua. Speaking with Felipe today, whom I plan to collaborate with for more in-depth research, I realized that it is more difficult for me to find credible sources to gain an inside perspective because everything is in the native language of the country. From an outsider’s analysis, it is difficult to weigh the real needs of the rural impoverished in the country. As GLOBE has taught me, it is imperative to listen to the people of the community in order to devise the best possible solutions for their problems and make a considerable impact. The Student Fellows Program that our class is strategizing toward would be a great way to gain exposure to the real needs of these communities, as opposed to the needs depicted by larger entities or possibly biased institutions and governments.
Though I have barriers to my research in the ways of proximity and language, the poverty mapping software introduced to our class today by Dr. Brenton could prove to be an extremely useful tool in not only my research, but also in my team’s initiatives and in the goals of GLOBE as a whole. The maps will enable me to look at numerous characteristics of the poorest regions in Nicaragua and figure out the deficiencies of the land and infrastructure. In turn, I will more properly be able to propose businesses that will remain sensitive to the bigger problems of the region and avoid possible roadblocks in the future. Combined with the risk analysis of the Finance Team, this mapping tool will be an invaluable resource for knowledge about the region despite the thousands of miles of separation. While it is valuable, it does worry me that the software does not contain up-to-date statistics and I will be particularly wary of this when relying on the data provided on the maps. Aside from my own research initiative, the concept of participatory mapping would be beneficial to our goals in enterprise development. If inhabitants can cohesively understand the framework of their own community, entrepreneurs will be more capable to build successful businesses and benefit a multitude of people. The Daughters of Charity could even implement this concept as an exercise for potential borrowers as well as common citizens to gain a sense of belonging and motivation towards progress for the community they call home. Another entity of the software was a map called “Where did my money go?” which I think could be particularly useful in marketing efforts to raise awareness and gain donor support. People will be much more willing to help, or even become repeat donors if they can see with their own eyes exactly where their money is going. In our cause, this map includes arrows signifying the trail of money from donor pockets to budding businesses and at that point, from the pockets of borrowers into other vendors of the community. While there are obvious deterrents in this software because of delays in census and statistical gathering, the potential is abundant. If the UN can figure out a way to keep these maps updated more consistently, they could be an extremely helpful tool in general research and analysis, as well as an overall understanding of the needs of our world’s most impoverished regions.
Log # 6
By: Felipe Juan
When the class was taking the assessment last week, I think we all could have written books and turned them in if we were allowed to. Tonight, class lecture let out early, but you know what? The majority of the class stayed. What was beautiful about this was that everyone wanted to stay. Even before our class ended, during our break, all of this remained on my mind as I discussed with Catherine the idea of participatory mapping. Mapping has always been something that has fascinated me. It’s a way for someone to find a place, a thing, and a person. Maps allow for connection and connections allow for interactions, for communication, and for knowledge. However, it’s a bit surprising that these maps haven’t been used but hey! It’s never too late to get started.
Whenever I’m doing extensive work or some kind of project, nothing ever seems to be in place. Maybe because of the hectic nature and sophistication of what is really going on (especially if it’s more than one person working on the project). It’s an interesting puzzle, where everyone holds their piece, looks at it and initially thinks: “What am I supposed to do with this?” I have to admit however; I’ve been through too many group activities to think this way, and each time I’m blown away by how wonderful the end result is. But again, we can’t just rush and be overconfident, thinking that everything will magically get done. This really makes me think back to a video I watched about a sustainability project in Los Angeles, where the person who started a garden was asking people why they were ashamed of asking for the veggies, and instead just stealing them. The contribution we make is to one another and not to be hidden!
We all must be aware of where we stand amongst our peers in terms of dedication and passion about this class. GLOBE really does bring out the best in you because this is a class where one must be the subject. You participate in this system and accomplishing goals is much easier if everyone is close, without borders that can inhibit progress. Despite the magnitude of work, this seems like fun rather than work. Everyone has a long day on Tuesdays and I recall spending this class smiling at the interactions we have because not only are they entertaining, but they are actual progress. Finance is really coming together with Enterprise Development to create a comprehensive analysis of certain areas of the world and it seems like Marketing and IT are also with the same concept of aiding one another. I honestly can’t wait until everything sizzles together.
Log # 6
By: Victoria Hackert
Today’s class was highly informative. We were fortunate enough to host guest speaker Dr. Barry Brenton, who is an expert on poverty mapping. I was always vaguely familiar with poverty mapping, knowing it as a methodology to provide a description of the distribution of poverty and social inequality. However, this lecture described this concept in far more detail. Dr. Brenton explained to us the concept of ‘Feature Classes,’ which is a collection of similar objects with the same attributes stored as a single unit. Stored as spatial features with a table of associated attributes for each feature, because all features must share the same table, all must have the same attributes. Feature classes may contain one type of geometry. We also learned that poverty maps are related and that information on these maps can come from many sources. He showed us examples of actual poverty maps and how the information translates to the general public. What I found most interesting however, was the fact that this concept can be used in a sociological aspect as well, defining not only poverty but also other phenomena in society.
I find that this can truly influence microfinance because it can map out not only poverty stricken areas, but it can also determine the areas that are devastated by crime, bad weather, illiteracy and other factors that can be considered a risk in microfinance. It can also define how women are viewed in that area and how prominent female dedication to the household is. It will be very interesting to see how much this concept evolves over the years, and how useful it will prove to be in the field of microlending. I also liked that poverty maps are interactive because this means that lenders and borrowers can collaborate in developing loans and repaying them; this allows a mutual exchange of information and data that preserves the integrity of the loan.
On another note, in this week’s article Social Entrepreneurship: The Case for Definition I came to realize that there is not yet a solid definition for a social entrepreneur and that the status of the business owner does not change whether or not this person is in fact a social entrepreneur. However, evidence does point to the idea that lending to individuals who are willing to start businesses is the way to alleviate poverty. This is due to the fact that this money can either lead to a small business that sustains the owner, or can evolve into a booming enterprise. All of this is based on the generosity of a microloan.
Tying the two concepts together, I feel that it would be very productive if an interactive map were made that can define where businesses that began with microloans are located, who the owners are, what the company is about, and how much progress the businesses have made. This will be a very encouraging way to invite people to microfinance.
Log # 6
By: Arianna Vargas
‘Pockets of Poverty’ was the focus of the reading for this week. Our class read a symposium of three articles that presented different methods of identifying pockets of poverty in developing countries. The methods call for using all available information, even though it may be limited, in order to map the spatial distribution of poverty. There are pockets of poverty in both urban and rural areas. Wealthier and better-educated individuals are less restricted in their ability to migrate and as they leave poor areas, the standard of living in those areas declines even further. The low quality of public services, particularly in education and health, further impedes the accumulation of human capital and thus, earning capacity. The poor condition of rural infrastructure limits trade and retards local investment and growth. The low level of social capital in poor communities slows the diffusion and adoption of new farm technologies, thus reducing farmers’ earning capacity. The distance from urban centers inhibits trade, specialization in production, and access to credit. As a result, households in poor areas are less likely to escape the individual and community predicaments that keep them poor.
A section of the article focused on why some geographic areas become pockets of poverty, while others have become islands of prosperity. This common event can be found in all countries and is caused by a wide range of factors. A major influential factor is the distance to a sea outlet and centers of commerce. The geographic conditions and the available natural resources are another set of affecting variables. Studies of income inequality and poverty generally take the approach of the individualistic, human capital model, which explains differences in income and consumption between people by looking at differences in individual and household characteristics. However, differences in standards of living between regions and communities are often far too large to be explained by differences in individual or household characteristics alone. Disparities in living standards may persist because of obstacles to internal migration, which in some countries are the result of deliberate government policies and in all countries are the result of economic, demographic, and cultural factors.
Geographical targeting of welfare programs is common in developing countries and is often used in conjunction with additional targeting criteria to narrow the beneficiary population and thus, reduce costs. For example in Mexico, the government gave food subsidies only in selected regions and only for tortillas and milk- the main staples of the poor. In Honduras, the government restricted a food stamp program to selected areas and required means testing to determine eligibility. In many Sub-Saharan African countries, governments targeted the construction of new health and education facilities to relatively poor areas, and the services provided in these facilities primarily benefited the poor.
We had the privilege of having Dr. Barrett Brenton come speak to our class. He is the Associate Director of the Center for Global Development at St. John's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, a Faculty Coordinator for Academic Service-Learning and Community-Based Research, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Vincentian Center for Church and Society and Associate Professor of Anthropology. He spoke about Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which are a system of computer software, hardware and data, and personnel to help manipulate, analyze and present information that is tied to a spatial location. It is a method to visualize, manipulate, analyze and display special data. We learned how mapping is not as simple as it looks. A map is made up of point, line, and polygon features. I learned about the different features of class. States are in the polygon feature class. Rivers are in the line feature class. Capitals are in the point feature class. GIS is also known as Poverty Mapping, the spatial representation and analysis of indicators. GIS provides an effective base for targeting where investments in infrastructure and services could have the greatest impact. He also showed us how Google Earth works. There is a large range of demographics that can be shown on these maps, for instance- the infant mortality ratio, underweight children, and maternal mortality ratio. Finally, Dr. Brenton informed us about participatory mapping, a product that represents the agenda of the community, which I found very important because the Finance Team might adopt it as one of their tools.
By: Mina Salib
Our readings this past week allowed us to measure the true impact of microfinance. We found that is difficult to measure the impact because we are unable to measure how life would be for the borrowers without microfinance. When it comes to earned income, profits, or goods produced, we can easily measure success but to try measuring the absence of a microloan program is very difficult. Since there is no monetary way of measuring success, analysts look at things like age, education, and income to measure how the microfinance program is doing. What we found cannot be measured are entrepreneurial skills.
Another interesting aspect of the reading was the focus on wealthy families and the access they have to better credit. It is difficult to see if microfinance really helped or if their power and money made them wealthier. What I learned from all this is that because it is difficult to measure success we must hold our borrowers to a standard and at least expect repayment for the loans we give out. Since we do not expect a lot of interest in return, we must look at success as trying to make systemic change in the areas we work in. The purpose of social entrepreneurship is ultimately achieving systemic change and making a social impact.
It is also interesting to see how similar social entrepreneurship is to general entrepreneurship. They share many similar characteristics; among these are: innovation, persistence, determination, and bravery. People in both fields most likely possess most of these characteristics.
Log # 7
By: Jhanelle Gopie
This week in GLOBE, the Finance Team was asked to read about Joanna Ledgerwood’s view on performance management in regards to microfinance institutions. Ironically, today’s lecture was also based on risk and performance. Reading through this chapter and listening to the lecture, I realized that there are a lot of things that can be fixed when it comes to the Finance and Risk Assessment aspect of GLOBE. Ledgerwood focuses heavily on the significance of delinquency loans and how they can serve as a downfall to microfinance institutions. A delinquency loan is a loan that is past due by up to sixty days with no signs of repayment.
When loans are not paid on time, the company expenses and revenue takes a major hit. It also deteriorates any ability to gain profit because microfinance institutions are already not-for-profit organizations. Ledgerwood offered solutions such as refinancing or rescheduling loans so that they are better suited for borrowers who are not paying back their share. She then goes into six elements and also fifteen steps in handling delinquency loans. At first I thought this would be great; we could use Ledgerwood’s elements and apply them to meet our goals. However, it would be rather difficult to put these steps into motion.
Sometimes I get frustrated with the entire loan process. How can we stress to the borrowers that without their repayments, we cannot give them our loans? One of the main problems is the lack of communication that goes on between GLOBE, the Daughters, and the borrowers. Ledgerwood suggests having a follow-up procedure in which microfinance management keeps tabs on their clients by making sure that the purpose of the loan is being satisfied and a payment plan is set up and upheld. The issue with following up on loans is that as the Finance Team, we have no fast and direct communication with the people we give money to. Therefore, if the borrowers do not talk to the Daughters, then they are not on our radar. That is frustrating to a team trying to achieve efficiency and productivity.
Although communication is key, the real underlying problem is simply that there are no consequences for unpaid loans. That, over everything, frustrates me! I understand the delicate tone taken with the borrowers and the loving and caring spirit shown by GLOBE. I understand the pertinent need to not act like any other typical capitalistic business, driven by greed. However, I also understand that we, as an institution, need our funds as well. Sometimes I wish I could be a temporary Daughter so I could go to the borrowers and see what is going on. But, then I have a moment of clarity. It dawns on me that these borrowers are not missing payment deadlines due to malicious intent. Sometimes things do not go as planned and the businesses do not work out. Maybe our interest rates are too high for them to sustain and GLOBE should look into a refinancing option. Paying back loans is never more important than feeding and clothing a family. It is a complicated relationship I have with GLOBE, but love-driven nonetheless.
Log # 7
By: Jessica Avenia-Gamba
GLOBE may not be at the level of success we would like it to be, but that does not mean it is not making progress. Although our repayment rate is not as great as it could be and our borrowers are difficult to keep track of, I sincerely believe the organization is making an impact, both locally and globally. We are raising awareness in our community, recognizing our mistakes, and proposing solutions just as social entrepreneurs should be doing.
Our discussion in class made me realize that we cannot expect people who have never had the responsibility or capacity to build credit to know the meaning of repayment. We are aware that they are a major risk, but as a social action-driven organization, we are willing to take that chance. We fail to understand that our borrowers also know they are a risk for us and as a result they lack the confidence to manage their own business successfully. For this reason I suggested that it is crucial for GLOBE to focus on finding a way to educate the people we seek and provide them with the proper tools to succeed in their businesses and educate them on the importance of credit.
The article on social entrepreneurship was also very helpful in understanding the world of microfinance and microloans. It is essential that we differentiate the work we are doing with GLOBE from the work of other social action organizations that do not promote entrepreneurship. For example, although social activists are motivated by change, their methods are less direct. These types of groups are working with social systems already in place and pushing for modifications to improve them. Social entrepreneurs are innovative thinkers seeking to create an entirely new system that will change society as a whole. This does not mean that social entrepreneurs sometimes do not use the same tactics as social activists and traditional nonprofit organizations. It simply means that we set boundaries and understand differences; otherwise, it gives the public the opportunity to find flaws in the organization and ultimately ignore the cause altogether.
Log # 7
By: Julian Naiken
As I began to write my research paper, I wanted to find additional resources to solidify some of my points. I came across an article in the New York Times, which spoke about women stepping up in the world, and becoming the strong figure in the household. The article suggests that new entrants in the workforce are mostly men, meaning that women have increased their duties pertaining to household work and farms. I do not know where the New York Times acquires this type of statistic or information, but this is quite an assumption. The author suggests that gender stereotypes have prevented women from entering the workforce and thus, deterred women’s rise out of poverty and hunger. The author continues on by stating that discrimination denies small-scale female farmers the same access men have to credit, union memberships, and technical assistance. This means that the potential productivity that women have in the economy is hindered, not to mention the amount of labor provided by women on a daily basis decreases. The article also gave a very interesting, yet telling piece of statistic. As sole or principal caregivers, women and girls often face a heavy burden of household chores like cooking, cleaning, fetching water, collecting firewood, and caring for the young and the elderly.
These uncompensated activities are equivalent to as much as 63 percent of gross domestic product in India and Tanzania. But they result in lost opportunities for women, who do not have the time to attend classes, travel to markets to sell produce, or do other activities to improve their economic prospects. This is very important as this shows exactly how much potential is lost as a result of women providing daily household labor. This statistic can be applied to practically anywhere in the world. This article brought to light some very important ideas that many people do not think about on a daily basis. We ourselves participate in many uncompensated activities that would ultimately improve our economic well-being. However, it comes down to doing the things that would truly make a difference in society. These are the things that have some type of value in them. What I mean by this, is that the things that most people do on a normal day, such as cooking, cleaning, taking care of the sick or elderly, are in fact activities that most individuals are commonly participating in on a daily basis. They may have value to yourself and to those around you, but do not have any true or significant value to society or to the economy. I hope to touch on these topics much more extensively in the future.
Log # 8
By: Emily Atkins
In class when crowd funding was referenced in one of the articles, I realized that this could be an excellent way for GLOBE to extend to a larger audience and personalize donor interactions. For another project I am working on with a start-up technology company, we are utilizing a site called Indie GoGo to tap a network of individuals willing to contribute financially to projects that peak their interest. I went into the website and when I typed in microfinance, I got a multitude of results including charity organizations trying to raise money for small entrepreneurs across the world. KIVA had many different projects on the site, not only for domestic projects but also in developing regions. If GLOBE could create a page to raise awareness with one borrower in the spotlight, it would personalize our efforts for the people who want to donate. The way the site works is that certain monetary goals are set with a specific deadline in mind. If the funds are raised and reach the goal by the deadline, then that is the only time the site will take any commission. It is great for GLOBE in particular because non-profit organizations get a discounted rate.
On a separate note, the completion of the bulk of my research about Nicaragua led me to many conclusions regarding the cause of the extreme poverty experienced there as well as the lack of improvements. Government regulations and aid institutions contribute to the growing income disparity between the rich population in the urban areas and the mostly rural poor. The article that I read about China also showcased the issue of government corruption and oppression by monopolistic corporations and big banks. In China, the biggest state-owned businesses receive funding while the small business sector receives almost nothing in terms of bank loans. Though claims are made that these banks are helping the small business sector, many of the microloans are faked and falsely documented with hidden costs, high interest rates, and high collateral requirements to even receive any type of loan. This article about government corruption makes me wonder about all the corrupt governments across the world in these impoverished countries and how many of them are reasons or possible roadblocks to poverty reduction and elimination. I know this is a major problem in Africa, but I’d like to know how much progress could really be made if these governments were put to justice and people had a fair chance at a better life. In addition, the bad reputation of hidden costs and lack of transparency gives microfinance a bad name in general. This could be damaging to our program because if people have these views about lending, they will be more reluctant to accept any loans by any organization, including ours. This idea should be kept in mind for future semesters, with the goal of a clean reputation for our program and emphasis of evidence of fair business dealings with our current and previous entrepreneurs.
Log # 8
By: Catherine Sims
A very close friend of mine from Senegal told me about his experience with microfinance in his country and how it was a negative experience. Both of his parents were diplomats, so he and his family lived in the United States, but every summer they would visit Senegal. There was a river and a lake near his village where everyone would swim and gather water. One summer he came home to find that he and his siblings were not allowed to go near the water because it had become contaminated. The eyesight of a number of people in the village was affected by the contamination.
A German university had a program where microfinance was coupled with health services to be provided in this village in Senegal. The university sent “doctors” to examine, prescribe, and in some cases even operate on those affected by the water. Many of them, who were victims of the experimentation done by the eighteen- and nineteen-year-old medical students, lost their eyesight. The reason the people agreed to be test dummies was because it was the only way they could receive a loan. My friend expressed that basically, the university caused more harm than good in hopes of finding a cure.
This example is so important for GLOBE because it demonstrates why so many people would be skeptical about accepting a loan without knowing the intentions of our institution. That particular instance took place in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s but the message of tragedy depicted definitely resonates with me now. My friend went on to explain to me that prior to this, his parents did not understand the concept of credit and were completely opposed to the notion of borrowing something they did not have; their mentality was to simply work for what they desired and that it would come to them. The idea of credit was introduced to them when they came to the United States to further their education. Eventually they accepted the concept of credit and my friend’s mother actually started a MFI in Senegal named AWOMI (African Women’s Millennium Initiative). Stories like this really show that while an area may have a negative experience with microfinance, there is still hope that an ethical and open MFI, such as GLOBE, could still function there despite the skepticism.
Log # 8
By: Joanna Michalski
When assigned to find an article for class discussion, I chose the piece, “Berkeley Microfinance Aids Bay Area entrepreneurs” from The Daily Californian. I found this piece to be interesting because it covered Berkeley students forming a student microfinance group that partnered with Kiva Zip in finding borrowers and providing recommendations. It was interesting to learn of another student group, similar to our GLOBE program, work with microfinance, and see the similarities and differences between the two programs. The main distinguishing factor was the fact that Berkeley Microfinance does not raise their own funds to lend out to borrowers but instead focuses solely on “identifying potential borrowers, evaluating borrowers’ ability to repay the loan and endorsing the borrowers on Kiva Zip.” The concept that I found that was the most successful to them and also the most related to our class was the statement the students made on how they decide which borrowers to lend to stating that: “loans do not depend on the client’s credit score but rather on trust between the client and the lending institution established through the endorsement process”. It was really interesting seeing how microfinance can work on a more domestic scale and how local U.S. businesses are thriving as a result.
Furthermore, I believe that GLOBE will continue to succeed. Maybe partnering with or closely examining how other student microfinance groups function and evaluating their successes and failures will help us perform better as a team because we will be able to learn from others’ mistakes and others can learn from our mistakes as well. GLOBE is centered on a first-hand learning experience and forming this connection with other students across the United States, and maybe even the world, would open up many more opportunities and valuable resources.
Log # 8
By: Arianna Vargas
We are all super excited about the upcoming events. The time has come to prove our true commitment to GLOBE. The semester is coming to an end so we are all starting to feel the burden of all the work accumulating, but we still manage to give it our all. Preparing for these events have been a major part of our semester but all of the important dates are right around the corner. It is too late to give up now; our class has to finish with the same enthusiasm and focus we started with. Dr. Sama has done a great job at keeping us intrigued and keeping the spark going. Not once has there been a dull moment in the class. There is always so much to learn and get done. Things were slightly switched up today because we had to bring in article instead of presenting our weekly readings. Everyone acquired important information that can maybe even help GLOBE in the future.
Today our first draft of the research paper was due. While writing my part of the research paper I came across common difficulties that have come with technology. One of them being that at times people underestimate time and cost. With underestimating time comes the postponing of a project. By underestimating cost, the budget might not cover the project. Both circumstances are detrimental to the process of helping a developing country. It is vital for managers to be realistic about upfront and on-going costs because the conditions under which people in under-developed countries are living in have to be worked upon without delay. Systems that will support an MFI over the long term can be expensive. The purchase price of hardware and software usually accounts for only fifteen percent of the total cost of implementation. The majority of information system expenses are incurred in staff time, training, and adapting operations to the new system. Technology will also be an on-going expense as an MFI’s operations respond to changing client needs and regulatory and economic environments. An annual budget for information technology maintenance should not exceed 12−15 percent of an MFI’s revenues.
One of the most significant findings in the last 50 years is that a large share of economic growth, more than one-third, is driven by technological advance. Capital and labor accounted for less than two-thirds of growth. The remainder was technology. The reason computers and software had such a powerful influence was that their effect was not limited to a single industry. Information technology (IT) could generate substantial spillover effects into other sectors. Examples include local area networks, computer-aided design (CAD-CAM), electronic banking, Internet retailing, statistical quality control, computerized inventory control, and faster communication of ideas. Industrial firms could use computers to reduce cycle times, achieve fewer defects, control inventory, and do specialized production runs tailoring manufacturing to demand.
The relationship between technology and microfinance evolves continuously. Throughout the years, the new devices do basically the same things; these are: capturing and analyzing data. This means that the actual technologies are not a major innovation, but what is innovative is what these technologies have done in the underdeveloped world. For example, smart cards, credit cards and debit cards are popular now in the microfinance world. Some institutions are even using them to process microloans. The networking of branches is quickly becoming a requirement in the industry. The difficulty with this delivery channel is the cash part of the operation and being able to get beyond simple financial transactions.
By: Emily Atkins
The video that we watched in class today about microfinance teaming up with health services really left a lasting impression on me. It reminded me of another program we heard of in a previous lecture in which borrowers were required to purchase health insurance before being qualified for a loan of $12 a year for the entire family. This program left me with the same feeling and I really think there is something to this cross-sectional partnership that can make a distinguishing impact. Health issues including disease epidemics and malnutrition, and a lack of information, especially of women’s health, are some of the main contributors to poverty and are barriers to the fight against it. In addition, health concerns are a major threat to microfinance as a collective industry and the most common reason for delinquency. In GLOBE alone, many of our borrowers have “fallen off the map” or defaulted because of AIDS and other health-related issues.
Today we learned about a few different organizations that work together in a combined effort towards microfinance and health initiatives for prevention, control, and treatment. Freedom from Hunger is one of the organizations doing extremely inspiring work in combining these fields. They give out health loans to people who already have entrepreneurial loans with their organization in an effort to protect resources and ensure higher repayment rates. According to the video, so far they have a 100% success rate in repayment for these types of loans. I think this is definitely an idea that can be incorporated into our GLOBE program given that our borrowers have a tendency to default because of health concerns. I would recommend that next semester look into this possibility given the perceived benefits not only to our default rate but also to the overall well being of our borrowers. I think our best bet would be to partner with an organization to promote health education and treatment that already has a foothold in developing regions, particularly resources such as human capital. Because one of the main setbacks for GLOBE is the inability to reach borrowers due to proximity constraints and lack of people in the field, teaming up with an organization that already has these resources in place and a desire for expansion would be extremely beneficial for us as well as the people we are trying to reach.
Banhan, an organization in India and partner with Freedom from Hunger, is one extraordinary example of a successful combination of health education and microfinance. They give loans to women only, creating a source of empowerment for women and spreading knowledge about prenatal and preventative health that will be passed from generation to generation. This program is particularly beneficial given the patriarchal culture that does not traditionally allow for female support, particularly in reproductive health services. Bandhan is helping to break the barriers of gender inequalities through health knowledge and small entrepreneurial funding combined.
One of the criticisms to the microfinance industry is that it lacks the ability to solve the bigger causes and enabling factors of poverty. Health is among these concerns but with a cross-sectional strategy, microfinance can put down this criticism while simultaneously expanding its impact exponentially. I believe that the services compliment each other in the most practical and best way possible. The benefits extend not only to the health and well being of the borrowers but also financially for every person involved throughout the countries of interest and the microfinance industries administering the loans. By dissolving boundaries between sectors we can create a larger impact and get closer to ending the cycle of poverty across the world.
Log # 9
By: Jamaris Harrell
We got a new loan application! This is so exciting because we didn’t think we’d get one this semester. My team has been working on our recommendations for the loan to present to the Steering Committee. The potential borrower is recovering from leprosy. She has had experience with a loan in the past but ended up using the money for her treatments since she became ill. We are worried that this may become an issue again and would cause a problem for loan repayment. We have had problems in the past with delinquent loans due to health issues. However, we believe that everyone deserves a second chance and that this borrower seems like she is really determined to become successful this time. We decided that a good alternative would be to offer a health loan if a situation arises in which she would need money for treatment. In order to do this, we believe it would be a good idea to keep in contact with the Daughter on the field so that we can keep track of the borrower’s health condition.
I thought it was great that today in class we spoke about exactly what my team was discussing last night. The possibility of some kind of health loan in GLOBE would be an ideal opportunity. We learned how microfinance institutions are developing innovative ways to combine both microfinance and health services. We watched a video by Freedom from Hunger, which partnered with Bandhan, a microfinance institution in India, in order to provide health services for their clients. Health is something that is very important within microfinance. Like Dr. Sama mentioned, “A healthy borrower is a successful borrower.” If a borrower becomes ill, it would be difficult for them to continue working while also receiving treatment. A health loan gives the borrower the opportunity to get medical treatment without having to shut down their business or having to sell any of their income-generating assets. The great thing about the health services that were being offered in India was that they were educating the people on how to care for themselves. This way they know what to do and won’t have to rely on them for certain things. For example, they educated women on how they should breast feed their babies if they are less than 6 months old.
Kofi Annan said, "Microfinance recognizes that poor people are remarkable reservoirs of energy and knowledge. And while the lack of financial services is a sign of poverty, today it is also understood as an untapped opportunity to create markets, bring people in from the margins and give them the tools with which to help themselves." This quote embodies the purpose of microfinance and our mission in GLOBE. We see the opportunity and the desire for change within poverty and decide to do something about it. This is what is so great about microfinance. Microfinance provides the poor with the proper tools so that they can help lift themselves out of poverty.
Log # 9
By: Michael Morettoni
What an amazing week for GLOBE. It began last Wednesday with a formal meeting with one our donors. It was an absolute pleasure meeting with such an intelligent and compassionate person. Our conversation broached many topics, but the one that resonated with me the most was the emphasis on student learning that GLOBE aspired to. It is not always easy to observe how well something is affecting you, while you are actively in process with it; however, our conversation allowed me to reflect on the effect GLOBE has already had on me. Frankly, I am embarrassed of my understanding of world poverty before taking the class. Since joining GLOBE I have learned about the trials of women in the developing world, the grave importance of education at any level, and the potential that competent microfinance institutions have to change the lives of their borrowers. But as the saying goes, the more I learn about poverty and microfinance in the developing world, the less I know: there is still much to learn about providing ethical, comprehensive, microfinance products for those in poverty.
The day after that lunch was our Friends of GLOBE Mixer at Hudson Station. The Mixer was planned as an opportunity for current and former GLOBE managers, in addition to donors and other stakeholders, to come together and celebrate the spirit of GLOBE. By charging $10 at the door for entry to the event and food, we were able to raise a substantial amount of funds for the program. The night was characterized by nostalgia, advice, and laughter. It was truly the highlight event for the Marketing Team this semester.
The Monday following the Friends of GLOBE Mixer was our Microdonation Day. In the continuing effort to raise GLOBE’s on-campus awareness, GLOBE managers mobilized themselves in front of St. Augustine Hall to explain microfinance, the work that GLOBE does, and the many benefits of joining the class. At the same time, we hosted a bake sale in Marillac that raised over $200. Raising the money is obviously wonderful, but what I was most proud of was handing out over 100 informational flyers to students. GLOBE is a remarkable program at St. John's University and the student body deserves to know about it.
Log # 9
By: Alisa Elsner-Young
Today's discussion regarding health loans was very enlightening. Every week our understanding of microfinance becomes more layered and complex. After learning about microloans, microcredit, microinsurance and other products, health loans seem like a natural progression for the industry. It should be so obvious that people in good health are more likely to pay back their loans. People who cannot keep up with their medical expenses often default on their loans.
I predict that health loans will become a key ingredient in the microfinance industry. Social entrepreneurialism is targeted towards helping develop people and communities that lack a formal market and infrastructure, be it technological or financial. In many of the areas where MFIs offer loans, necessities such as good quality, affordable healthcare are unavailable. It is essential for MFIs to be a part of the community's development process. Without sufficient training, borrowers cannot make the most of their loans in order to build their community's infrastructure, often starting with very little to work with. The video about Bandhan had a great example of supplying borrowers with the tools to take charge of their health. Women came together and sat in front of a woman from their village who was trained in sex and family education. She delivered simple lessons using a lot of visual instruction.
This is an important debate for MFIs, especially those who are working with the poorest of the poor. In the vain of social entrepreneurial values, supplying health loans must be accomplished without compromising either the social aspect or the entrepreneurial aspect. So, an MFI must consider whether they supply health loans or not and if so, if these come with or without an interest rate. Another option to consider would be to collaborate with a third party who is more geared toward health loans. The issue of health care is certainly a complex and delicate one; however, there is definitely such a thing as being too business-oriented or too charitable. I definitely think that GLOBE should consider health loans in the future. Bandhan gave out health loans that averaged $80. With a slightly lower interest rate, GLOBE could offer health loans along with our usual loans and maintain sustainability.
Log # 10
By: Melissa Kraus
In last week’s lecture, we talked about health insurance along with microloans. The topic of whether taking out health insurance along with a loan should be mandatory came up the other night. After all, a healthy borrower is more likely to be a successful borrower. There have been some cases in the past when borrowers failed to pay back their loans because they or their children fell ill. Health conditions are not always the best in impoverished countries. There are illnesses that would be considered minor in the United States that could kill someone in another country. It would be a good idea to add health insurance to a loan for an extra cost or perhaps even make it mandatory to provide health insurance with every potential loan.
Our final presentation is approaching quickly, and I want to reflect back on this past semester and what I have learned throughout my GLOBE experience. Of course, there is so much I could say. One of the main things I am really going to take away from GLOBE is how much can be accomplished with teamwork. This wasn’t the case in just in my team, but for the whole class. Events like the Hudson Station Mixer and the bake sales take a lot of work to organize and publicize. Working with other people can sometimes be challenging, but I think the good outweighs the bad.
Being in GLOBE this semester has opened my eyes to social entrepreneurship and microfinance. I was really inspired when we had the guest speaker from the Peace Corps because he introduced a different option for after graduation. I don’t know if I will end up doing the Peace Corps or not, but just the fact that I am now aware of it has broadened my options. Not only that, but now I am considering applying for a microfinance organization when I graduate next year and am looking for jobs.
GLOBE has shown me the poverty that people live in and the hardships that they face. When I first saw some of the conditions that people were living in during class, I wondered how we could be able to help them. But by hearing various people speak about issues like these throughout the semester, I learned that if we are able to help even just one person, it could make a huge difference in his or her life.
Log # 10
By: Jhanelle Gopie
College is supposed to expand your horizons to new experiences and concepts that would otherwise never have crossed your mind before. Whether it’s new cultures or new academic theories, you are supposed to learn some of the most interesting things in college. I truly believe I have learned some of the most interesting concepts these past few weeks that have really changed my view on some things.
The Finance Team received a loan from a woman in Nigeria looking to start a food trading business within her small community. Unfortunately she has leprosy, making it difficult for her to pay back loans and help her family. After much review from our team, the topic of microinsurance and health loans slowly took over our conversation. At first, I didn’t know what microinsurance was. I barely knew what microfinance was before I got into the class. After some research, I have come to see that microinsurance is actually really beneficial to helping the microfinance industry. Microinsurance is the protection of low-income people against specific dangers in exchange for regular premium payment, somewhat proportionate to the likelihood and cost of all risks involved. This premise is exactly the same as regular insurance except for the clear target market of low-income people.
In class we watched a video clip on Freedom from Hunger, a nonprofit, international developmental organization looking to end world hunger. Freedom from Hunger believes that a world without hunger is absolutely possible through the practices of self-help, innovation, and sustainability. Similar to most microfinance institutions, Freedom’s clientele are mainly women due to the fact that they are the primary caretakers of young children, who are the most vulnerable to malnourishment. Freedom from Hunger currently works in 24 countries throughout Africa, Central America, South America, and Southeast Asia. In 2006, Freedom from Hunger created an initiative to design, build and sustain health protection services that complement microfinance services and protect clients from the shocks of major health expenses. This initiative (Microfinance and Health Protection) offers financial products and other programs that improve access to health goods and services. Women who participate in these programs come together every week or two to deal with their current loans and savings, but also to engage in workshops on topics such as breastfeeding, child health and nutrition, family planning, women's health and business/household management.
This concept is absolutely amazing and GLOBE needs to get on this! If we worked closely with the Enterprise Development Team with their business plan objective, we could also come up with ways to incorporate healthcare information within this plan. How can we expect a borrower to be able to run a sustainable, profit-maximizing business if they are not capable of taking care of themselves? Happy wife means a happy life; if the wife isn’t happy, these businesses won’t flourish. Our business plan could include proper hygiene guidelines and preventions to different diseases. Who knows? Maybe they can even open a gateway to creating a business! Freedom from Hunger has really struck gold with this initiative. Not only are they giving loans, but they also come back into the communities every so often and really connect with the borrowers on a level deeper than strictly business. One of our biggest objectives is to create some type of follow up with the borrowers and what better way than to make sure they, themselves, are doing good. This is such a beautiful way to empower our borrowers through entrepreneurship.
Sometimes we read all these articles about different MFIs or poverty-alleviating initiatives and most, if not all of us, want to put these in motion for GLOBE. Maybe we are being a bit overzealous and biting off more than we can chew, especially this late in the semester, but I truly believe this is why our class is at a caliber above the rest. We want to utilize every possible way to make life easier for our borrowers, the Daughters, and for ourselves, and we won’t stop until we see this happen. I think the next class has a lot on its plate and they haven’t even started yet. Speaking for the Finance Team, we have a lot of different ideas that we want them to develop and hopefully put into effect. Fall 2013 has some really big shoes to fill. I hope they are ready.
Log # 10
By: Joanna Michalski
Today’s class consisted of several interesting topics. Dr. Sama presented on the topics of microinsurance and microsaving. While watching the videos that presented both these concepts, I was curious to see how they would work in real life. Upon observation (at least from what was portrayed in the videos) both concepts proved to be effective and beneficial to the individuals who invested in them. This was the first time I have had the opportunity to learn about microinsurance and microsaving and I was intrigued to see how they worked. Based on my first introduction to these topics, I believe more strongly in microsaving because I believe this method allows individuals to learn to better prepare on their own and decide for themselves how they wish to spend the money in the long-term, giving them more responsibility and control over their own lives; this will in turn help them build more confidence to continue building a better life.
Another interesting part of tonight’s lesson was when the Finance Team presented on a potential borrower from Vietnam. The borrower in question was a 21-year-old girl from Vietnam who is looking to borrow $800 to buy a motor scooter that she could ride to and from her job at a factory. She is looking to buy the scooter so that she can ensure she is able to get to work easier. The young girl noted that both of her parents were elderly, had medical problems and were no longer able to work so they depended on her to pay for their medical bills, making it crucial for her to have a dependable way to get to and from work each day. Her story was touching, and even more so when she added that having a scooter would help her “get a scooter for life” revealing how important this investment could be to her future.
The conflict is whether GLOBE can help her. The question is not whether or not we as a class want to help her; I can say wholeheartedly that the entire class jumped at the chance of being able to help this young girl. The question is whether GLOBE as an organization can help her because our principle is that we lend money to borrowers so that they can start up businesses. In the case of this young female, she is looking to borrow money so that she can purchase a scooter; she is not investing in starting up her own business. Our argument for her case is that the scooter will still help her become more confident and as a result may help encourage her to start up her own business in the future. One of the recommendations was that in addition to providing the girl with the money to lend for her scooter, we would also include information about microsaving as well as what GLOBE is. By doing this, not only are we still helping this young female achieve her dreams, but we’re also sticking by our mission of helping entrepreneurs build up their businesses. As GLOBE continues to grow with each passing semester, there are questions such as these that will be presented and as a class, the group will need to decide what decisions should be made.
Log # 10
By: Julian Naiken
This is our final class before our mock presentations. I just cannot believe where the time has gone. It is truly unbelievable how quickly this semester has gone by. I am very happy that we were able to successfully complete all of team goals except for our Facebook “likes” quota, which we are extremely close to meeting. I am pleased to know that our efforts have paid off, as we were able to accomplish many things this semester. We received a loan applicant, which to me is the best accomplishment possible, aside from the extremely successful GLOBE Mixer event during which we were able to raise $1,000! From a personal standpoint, I really feel as if I could have done a lot more to raise the awareness of the GLOBE program here on campus. It’s actually funny because I have nothing but seniors in all of my classes, except for GLOBE. As a class I feel we did a really good job at raising on-campus awareness at all of our events this semester. We promoted our bake sales really well and GLOBE generally with our amazing posters. We had an outstanding showing at our GLOBE Mixer event, which was quite evident from the number of past GLOBE managers that were able to make it. We were really fortunate to have our event on a night where so many people could come out!
I’ve learned quite a few life lessons from this class. Surely they are lessons that will follow me throughout the entirety of my life. Most of the things that I have learned in this class are things that you cannot learn just anywhere else. People can go through many life experiences and waste many years before they learn some of the very simple aspects of life that I learned in one semester. I’ve learned one very important thing: that every little effort that you put into what you do can make such a significant difference. I really enjoyed this class, and truly wish I could have made more of a significant impact; however, I am satisfied with myself and of what I was able to accomplish as a student in this class. I hope that the remainder of this semester is something special that we can all take away from. We are much more than a class; we have evolved into a family. I think this became entirely apparent to us after the GLOBE Mixer. I feel that many of us were astonished at the showing that we received because of our efforts as a class. I feel that the success of the GLOBE Mixer is the summary of all the effort that we have put into class to promote our events and display our passion for the GLOBE.
By: Mina Salib
If I had to sum up my GLOBE experience in one word, I would use the word “fulfilled”. I believe the word “fulfilled” speaks on so many levels, and truly captures how I feel at the culmination of this semester. I came into this semester knowing I was ready to put in the work and the time to make sure our GLOBE class was the most successful class ever and I believe we have accomplished this task. From the beginning I saw a passion and zeal from each of my fellow GLOBE managers and I knew right away that we were going to be special.
To work with some of the brightest students St. John’s has to offer was truly a blessing and that is a secret ingredient of GLOBE. This amazing program attracts dedicated and hardworking individuals who are not okay with doing the bare minimum. It was also very obvious that each of us knew what the true mission of GLOBE is, which is to help our borrowers raise themselves out of poverty, and we knew we had to dedicate time and effort to make a dent this semester. One of the most beautiful things about GLOBE is the way it is taught. Dr. Sama does not ask you take a million tests or make sure we are doing a couple of essays a day but rather she asks you to love the cause and then become part of the effort. I must say I did sacrifice this semester for this program, but I feel fulfilled. This feeling of fulfillment was especially evident after the presentation this past Tuesday, in which we saw the work that all of the managers put in and the awe in our audience’s faces as we spoke. We gave them a quick glimpse of the work that is being done and it was amazing to see their appreciation for our efforts.
|Lastly I must say that GLOBE helped me become a better leader. In the beginning of the semester I was chosen to be my team’s liaison and I knew this would come with added responsibility, but I was up for the challenge. My team clicked from the onset but the pressure did get to us by the end of the semester. We had a lot of deadlines to meet and we had to get our work done. At first I was very stressed because all of these deadlines were coming at one time, but I realized stress would not solve anything. I decided to rally my team and make sure that everyone was working on his or her assignments. I am never one to pressure people but I realized that at this time it was up to me to make sure people were working with integrity; meaning that each person was going to finish his or her work and presentations so not only my team would succeed but also GLOBE as a whole. Then I realized that this is also what Dr. Sama does; at times it seems like we are being asked to do a lot but that is what it takes when you are trying to raise people out of poverty. It takes a lot of work and great leadership.
In closing, I would like to thank Dr. Sama, Lina, and my new GLOBE family for this opportunity. I have grown a lot and have made new long lasting friendships that I am very grateful for. I believe that we have done great work this year and I am sure that GLOBE will continue to change the world for semesters to come. I will make sure that I am a dedicated GLOBE alumni and I am happy to say I will be part of the GLOBE family forever.
By: Gina Frisa
I remember I first heard about GLOBE at my student convocation as a freshman. Ever since then I knew that GLOBE was something I wanted to be a part of while at St. John’s. I always want to do more than just give a donation- I want to utilize my skills and help make a difference in others lives.
As a freshman I took a self-directed search (SDS), which is a type of career test. The results of the search gave one answer: the area for me to enter would be something of social nature. It also gave examples of possible careers, such as a judge, lobbyist, or Foreign Service officer. The first two were definitely not of interest to me. As for the third, being an ambassador was something I could see myself being. However, in entering Foreign Service out of college it is not likely for one to become an ambassador straight away.
I always knew that my calling would be helping others. Unfortunately, helping others can be very costly, and it could therefore be rough to spend so much and make so little. For now I will enter the business world, and try to make as much money as possible. Unfortunately, money does make the world go ‘round and with money comes power. Along the line I plan to become an ambassador, and hopefully with the income I am able to make I will have more of an ability to help others. As an ambassador I would want to be the voice for the people that do not have the power or the ability to speak for themselves. I want to shout at the top of my lungs for the people that are screaming for help, but can barely get out a whisper due to their circumstance. At my final speech class, I remember my professor saying, “Remember- you have the power of your voice, use it.” I have full intent on doing so.
“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.
This quote really encompasses what microfinance is about. We’re not just giving a handout— we’re helping people break the cycle of poverty by helping them support themselves and their families. Although poverty itself will never completely go away, the goal of eradicating extreme poverty within a generation can most definitely be achieved.
I never thought that business could be mixed with the idea of bringing about social change. It seems like a contradictory concept. However, many MFIs have made it work. When the goal is the benefit of society, everyone wins. A common question in my Theology of the Marketplace class was whether a company could be profitable while still having the interests of others in mind. We came to the conclusion that it is absolutely possible. It may take a little extra work, but by working together to each other’s benefit, there can be great returns. This idea was also illustrated in an exercise we did in the beginning of the class.
A common theme in our GLOBE class is the empowerment of women. Women make better borrowers. Women are more likely to repay their loan because they are typically the ones that are the most invested in the family. Women are less likely to pick up and leave their family behind. When women have extra income, they use that extra income towards the betterment of the entire family. Women will use income to purchase food for the family, make improvements in the home and send the children to school. In this way they are able to have more say as a financial contributor in the household. In the Beyoncé documentary that appeared on HBO, there was something that Beyoncé said that stuck in my mind. “Money gives men the power to run the show.” Microfinance helps women earn money and therefore, they will have the power to run the show.
In class we learned about current trends in microfinance including microsaving, microinsurance, and mobile banking. Microinsurance is something that would be too complicated for GLOBE to do; however, providing our borrowers with health loans is something that we would be able to do. The following classes of GLOBE should definitely try working toward making microsaving a part of GLOBE.
This class really illustrated the importance of communication. By having the best communication, issues can be addressed and can be avoided as well. As for communication with the Daughters, by fostering good communication with them we can better aid our borrowers in times of need and therefore, have better rates of repayment. Our relationship with the Daughters is crucial since they are our link to the field.
My team was absolutely wonderful to work with, and the class would not have been the same without them. We had such great and innovative ideas, building upon those of managers past. Class ‘firsts’ for the spring 2013 semester include: communicating with the Daughters, the interactive map, health loans, sustainable borrowers and the start of the Student Fellows Fund. GLOBE is two pronged: it is for our borrowers and a learning experience for the students. Every visit to the field thus far has resulted in a loan. Fieldwork enhances the learning experience of students while helping us better aid our borrowers.
My views from the beginning of the semester to the end have definitely changed. At the beginning of the semester I had such a strict mindset of getting repayment on loans. My team thought a lot about the process in which we chose borrowers and that the borrowers we select should be those that would be most likely to repay the loan. But GLOBE is more than that. We try to reach the poorest of the poor; we try to reach those that would normally not be given the opportunity to have a loan. We learned that each of our borrowers is completely unique in every sense.
The class has been a reminder of how fortunate we all are. We will never be able to say that we know what it’s like to have to live from day to day. In America, we have a culture of buying in bulk and having things set and planned for the long term. So many people across the world are stuck in a cycle of poverty that they are unable to get out of. We will never know what it’s like to struggle to have food on the table, clothes on your back and a roof over our heads. People in America complain everyday about things like not being able to get the latest iPhone or not having as many ‘likes’ as they would have wanted on a photo. Remember how lucky you are. People are so fortunate that their only worries are silly things. There are people across the world that are struggling and in dire need of help.
We received two loans this semester in which we were able to apply new concepts and ideas. Some new concepts were providing health loans (Do we want to burden our borrower with more money to repay?) and sustainable borrowers (What if the borrower has a steady source of income and will be able to repay a loan? Should they be issued one, even though the purpose of the loan is not entrepreneurial?). We answered ‘yes’ in each of the cases. With the health loan, we decided that we would provide such a loan without any interest. By having a health loan, our borrower could borrow money for their medical expenses instead of depleting the funds that should be going toward their business. We decided to approve having a sustainable borrower because we try to reach anyone that would otherwise not have such an opportunity. How much damage could be done with a borrower that truly has the ability to repay their loan? Is it bad that they are earning an income without being an entrepreneur?
The final presentations were brilliant and our teams did a great job of engaging the audience by keeping the presentations as short and as straight to the point as possible. It was wonderful to see in the audience that the Philippines were chosen as a possible country for GLOBE to enter next. The culture of the Philippines helped shape the person who I am today. All the values my mother learned while being raised in the Philippines were bestowed upon me. The people of the Philippines welcome visitors to their home with open arms. They are a kind-hearted culture, and many people would try to help others no matter how little they may have. It would be such a great feeling to say that I was someone who was instrumental in obtaining loans in the Philippines if the dream of GLOBE entering the Philippines becomes a reality.
The story of the starfish illustrates how important a difference can make:
“A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.
She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”
The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied, “Well, I made a difference to that one!”
The old man looked at the girl inquisitively and thought about what she had done and said. Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved.”
Every little difference adds up and those little differences can have a tremendous ripple effect. It always feels good to make a difference no matter how small that difference may be. GLOBE has now been 9 semesters strong and will be going into its 10th semester in the fall. Just think of the ripple effect that was created due to each student spreading his or her knowledge to at least one person.
It’s hard to believe that the semester is now at its close. We have accomplished and done so much. GLOBE has been truly rewarding and has been my absolute favorite experience at St. John’s during the three years that I have been here. GLOBE truly encompasses the values of the university. None of GLOBE could be possible without Dr. Sama, the Daughters of Charity, and our donors.
By: Jessica Avenia-Gamba
GLOBE changed my perspective on the world and made me realize how little I knew about it. I learned about the struggles people go through in world, particularly women, and the significance a small loan can have on their lives. I believe this experience was like no other I ever had in a classroom. I will take the lessons I learned and apply them into my future plans and career. I can now say I accomplished something working in a team and made a difference in the world.
The Marketing Team is not directly involved in the loan process; however, it plays a vital role in the success of GLOBE and I am glad I was able to participate in this great effort. The fact that we were able to reach all of the goals we set at the beginning of the semester demonstrates the dedication this semester’s class put into the program. I could not have asked for a better experience. I learned more than I expected about teamwork and leadership. This class has given me the confidence and skills to go into the workforce knowing that I will be successful and will demand change in the world.
Based on the class lectures and our readings I am positive that microfinance is an effective tool to alleviate poverty. I will continue to learn about microfinance and hopefully be able to help other organizations reach their goals of helping those in need of an opportunity. Microloans help people rise above the poverty level by giving them the opportunity to be entrepreneurs, to manage a business and sustain a family. It gives them the tools necessary to be independent, financially responsible, and dependable. It does not just hand out money and lead them astray. As Muhammad Yunus said, “credit is a fundamental human right” and it is our responsibility to ensure that poorest of the poor are given this right.
GLOBE will forever be an experience I will cherish and take pride in. I am grateful that I had this opportunity to learn and grow as an individual. I will certainly recommend the program to other students and encourage people to learn more about the world of microlending.
By: Sylvia Yu
“All good things must come to an end” is a phrase that comes to mind when thinking about GLOBE. This may mark the end of the Spring 2013 GLOBE class but I can’t wait to see what new classes have to offer to GLOBE. Time and time again, many of my fellow GLOBE classmates remark how the things they have learned in the classroom are actually what s/he have used in the class. It is amazing to see such a diverse class of students come together to reach a goal and using a variety of different methods to do so. I am unbelievably proud of our class for reaching our initial objectives and also for overcoming any obstacles that came our way. I don’t wish for this to be the end but I know that I have the knowledge to continue to help people around the world and I can continue to make a difference in someone’s life.
Reflecting back, I actually had no clue what GLOBE was going to be like. I knew the second that I heard what the class was about that I had to sign up. Unlike many of my other classmates, no one directly pitched GLOBE to me and told me what an amazing program it is. I also never attended any of the information sessions. I didn’t know what to expect of the GLOBE program at all. It wasn’t until I attended last fall’s presentations that I had a taste of what GLOBE has to offer. During the presentations, I was intrigued at what the previous class presented and was already thinking that: 1- We should aim higher and 2- We would need to work better as a class and place less emphasis on individual team domination. Those were my two personal goals in coming into GLOBE. I am very proud to say that our class has achieved them.
Our class wanted to make big splashes whenever we organized events and we definitely made an impact wherever we where. During our Microdonation Day, we were able to a reach out to many different people. including many freshmen who all seemed interested in the course. During our bake sales, not only did we manage to raise money, but we also gave out information about GLOBE. All these things may seem small, but in the end it all added up to make a tremendous impact.
Walking into our weekly Tuesday night class just begins to scratch the surface on the topic of microfinance since microfinance is such a complex and growing field that there is learning to be done every day. My favorite method that we have learned of in GLOBE is microsaving; requiring individuals to have a certain amount of money saved up before s/he is given a microloan teaches the individual the perks of budgeting. I feel that microsaving allows for individuals to learn that someday in the future, s/he will be able to save enough money to purchase necessities without the need to borrow money in order to purchase them. The incredible feeling of giving someone hope that the future will be better is something I will never forget about GLOBE.
The experiences that I have taken away from GLOBE will be everlasting. Graduation is going to be bittersweet; I will proudly wear my GLOBE sash during the ceremony. I almost made the mistake of not applying to GLOBE; but in the end I did apply and I am glad I did.
To my spring 2013 GLOBE class- I am proud of all of our accomplishments!
To Dr. Sama- Thank you for this amazing opportunity!