Each semester, students enrolled in the Global Microloan Program will update this site with their weekly program logs. The Spring 2014 student teams include Technology and Communications; Marketing and Fundraising; Enterprise Development and Program Impact Audits; and Finance, Budgets and Risk Assessment.
By: Edmund Inorkpor
The chapter is centered on the need for innovation and how to effectively encourage innovation. Overall these are the key lessons that I have personally picked up; they can be classified as:The culture of fathering, coupled with the attitude of indulgence:
Yes, many social interventions are initiated with very good intentions, but sometimes the execution is not the best. Most social intervention programs are connoted with pity and so in trying to help, the initiators of these programs embark on with the attitude of “knowing it all”. They either in the attempt to help act like they have all the answers to the problems of the communities they are helping or as if they possess all the solutions. In the end they try to “father” people in these societies or even in some cases, impose ideas. This leads to the next lesson of avoiding lab solutions; rather work with the beneficiaries to develop workable solutions.Lab Solutions:
What works in the United States might not work in Kenya; what works in Kenya might not work in Nigeria; what worked in the town of Kisumi, Kenya might not even work in Nairobi, Kenya. This therefore, means that managers of different social intervention programs must make a conscious effort in either liaising with the locals or even conduct on the ground surveys so as to develop authentic and workable solutions that go directly into tackling the problems they are trying to surmount. This means that one must be open- minded; one must be ready to unlearn and relearn. Sometimes this so-called “impoverished people” do not lack the knowledge or the knowhow; sometimes all they need is a little sense of direction or just a little push.
The lesson here therefore is listen-- listen and learn-- that is the sure way to help. In respect to GLOBE and specifically the Enterprise Development and Impact Audits Team, this means that in our quest to develop enterprise solutions for our borrowers we always must be ready to listen to our borrowers and also learn to effectively design models and even conduct impact audits that are region-centered. We should never approach the borrowers with ta “savior who has all the answers” attitude.
Also one should not impose solutions developed from theories and impose them on beneficiaries nor just replicate solutions that have worked in a specific region onto another region. Solutions should be tailor-made and problem-oriented.
Conclusively, a submissive attitude coupled with partnership orientation is key to developing innovative solutions in any social intervention. Always be ready to learn.
Log # 1By: Nam Phan
On the first day of class, we started by giving our own experience on poverty. It was really interesting to me to learn other GLOBE Managers’ perspectives about this issue. Poverty to me seemed like something really unfamiliar because I have had the privilege to grow up in a nice and warm family. However, I did have one memorable experience of meeting and talking with homeless people during my midnight run last year. The experience was invaluable. The people I met that night were so friendly and happy to see us. Some of them were really knowledgeable about the economic situation. Indeed, the stories I heard in class really helped me have different perspectives about poverty.
The reason I joined GLOBE is to learn how the microfinance system works. Coming from a developing country, I can relate to the lives of those living under the “average” conditions. To them, a small loan is really something valuable that could literally change their lives. That is why I also decided to apply to become a Student Fellow to go on to a trip to Nicaragua and learn more about poverty there. I need to see how poverty is taking different forms in different countries.
Currently, our Finance and Risk Assessment Team has been assigned to read over the loan applications from Vietnamese borrowers. It is really interesting to me to see the actual application form and read the story of each applicant. Behind each loan they require is the story of how that loan can provide the capital they need to help them walk out of poverty. In addition, since most of the borrowers are women, the loan also helps them become financially independent. This will bring more power to women and help create more gender equality.
Even though each one of us has our own reasons to join GLOBE, I believe all of us want to eradicate poverty in the world. Although we cannot literally get rid of poverty at this moment, but one by one, we are making a contribution to that future. Even if we cannot immediately see the difference it brings to the world, it really makes a difference to us, making us more caring and loving people.
Log # 1By: Berenice Bryant
The meeting with Scott VanDeusen was very insightful. He was able to give us some inside knowledge on what techniques work within St. John’s and which ones are not as successful. This is important because this way we can avoid putting in so much time and energy into an ineffective campaign. Additionally, he had some good recommendations about turning the raffle offered into a 50/50 type raffle. This would eliminate the struggle of finding prize donations or raising additional funds in order to have prizes. Even more importantly, everyone will be happy with the money prize whereas a male receiving jewelry or a scarf is not as enticing.
Within the team we have not yet mastered communication. Although we have several platforms we can communicate through such as email and texting, not all the members are active in these discussions. I would like to discuss this today with the group because miscommunications and not having everyone on the same page can slow us down. Hopefully, we will be able to resolve this issue to increase our productivity. Otherwise, our team has been working together well in order to accomplish assigned tasks, brainstorm ideas, and set goals that are aggressive yet obtainable. It is important to set the bar high so that even if you do not accomplish your exact goal, you have made it close, which amounts to the best you could have done. We will be busy in the upcoming weeks; in order to set up the semester’s events and promotions, we need to plan them early to account for shipping, delays, venues filling up, and ensure we do not miss opportunities.
One thing I found to be interesting that we discussed in class previously was the idea that microfinance is not a new phenomenon. Eighteenth Century England had a similar system. Ireland also had loans in order to deal with the potato famine; they were even free. Microfinance was much less formal but still, the concept had been done before. In our texts, when referring to the development of microfinance, they are quick to reference Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank as well as other popular MFIs.
Another interesting concept we discussed was what being poor means. One thing mentioned by Dr. Sama was a discussion she had with an individual living in what we would consider to be a ‘poor’ area. This individual mentioned how she had never considered herself to be poor; she rich with culture, family and spirit. This just stressed the importance of not judging individuals based off of preconceived notions and to be conscious when discussing these matters as to not offend any groups. The ‘poor’ are resourceful and have just as much potential as anyone else, just no opportunity to use it. Referring to them more scientifically (i.e. those “below the line of poverty) is much more tactful and better explains whom you are referring to.
Log # 1By: Yemisi Aribo
I am somewhat surprised at the amount of peace and unity microcredit and finance can create. I automatically assumed that most borrowers simply looked out for themselves and for the lives of their families and occasionally cared about the complete well being of others. To learn that these women take into account how their loans and business ventures will affect their entire community, their neighbors, their extended families, etc. is very refreshing. I think I began the course automatically under the impression that these communities of borrowers would react to the loans they are similar to the way we Americans act when happen upon a sum money. Not in the sense that I assumed all cultures were identical. Rather, in the sense that I assumed human nature would take control and “every man would care for himself”. I thought each borrower would simply want to better their own lives and not do much for those immediately near them.
I interpret Muhammad Yunus’ description of poverty as an opportunity. An opportunity to unite those invested in it to be the source for change. As with any serious social issue, we will not know how to fix it until it breaks. The Bangladeshi economy, as well as many others, is broken. The only people who actually know the extent to which it is broken are those living in it. Yunus speaks of how he knew there were many poor people living in his hometown but did not understand the extremes of it until he immersed himself into their way of living. I believe the idea of solving poverty and making great changes towards its depletion is more intimidating than the actual act. In no way do I believe micro-loans are the end-all in solving this crisis but I strongly believe it makes great strides towards finding a solution. It moves beyond charity and donations. It creates lives and, more so, ways of thinking.
Ignoring the fact that I am a woman, I love the fact that so many of the impoverished women are being given opportunities to provide for their families. In so many cultures, especially those of developing countries, women are treated as property and not self-sufficient individuals. For them to finally be given an increasing number of platforms to better not just themselves but their status in their societies is amazing. When people think of modernizing a society they look to major advancements in technology and selling all of their goods, basically bringing the Western mentality and trying to impose it on other cultures. Microcredit offers a chance to modernize a society without trying to change its values to mimic ours. It offers a chance for them to grow and advance their economic, health, and social needs without completely changing their belief systems.
Log # 2By: Tianran Long
I have done many speeches in the last two years at this school, but my speech is still somewhat poor. I was trying to find a way to increase my speech skills in the past, but I could not find a good way. Now, I am glad that GLOBE provides me with this opportunity to increase my presentation skills. This week I paid great attention in listening to others' speeches in GLOBE. There were five speakers in each of the GLOBE classes. They were required to do summaries of one chapter of a textbook. I realized that even though the requirement was the same for everyone, people had different ways of interpreting the textbook. Some people told us the main idea of one chapter. For example, we learned from one speaker that one chapter of a book talks about the gender issues of microfinance. Women borrowers are generally more responsible than men borrowers. Some others told us about interesting things that they found out throughout the book. For instance, one speaker told us that we should not worry about rebuilding housing after a disaster in communities affected by poverty, rather, we should worry more about the consequent violence that it creates. Some speakers talked about the whole story of one chapter. Some speakers told us of their own reflections after reading that chapter. In fact, the method people use for their presentation does not matter; it only matters that they express their ideas clearly to the audience. The problem with my speech is that the audience does not understand idea I am trying to convey. Along with my accent, I have other problems. I was not aware of these problems until I listened to these speeches in GLOBE. These speakers always had confidence while speaking. I realized that all the speakers in GLOBE practiced a lot before their presentations. In addition, these speakers never presented with an article in their hand. Before a presentation, they always remembered their speeches.
I felt simultaneously happy and sad after listening my classmates’ presentations. I felt happy because I was impressed of their excellent presentations. I felt sad because I realized that I did not present like them.
It is my third week in GLOBE, and I learned something new: always be prepared to do things. Being prepared for everything is really important for everybody. We should be prepared for presentations, for classes, for internships, and for jobs. As an international student, I should also be prepared before speaking any words or writing any sentences. Preparation makes people perfect. After this week of GLOBE, I realized that I have many preparations to work on. Suddenly, my life has become really busy!
Log # 2
By: Radha Byagari
I found last week’s presentation on gender and multiculturalism very interesting. Prior to that class I had never heard of Hofstede’s Model of National Culture. While I do not really agree with his conclusions, they made me wonder more about gender and how certain societal constructs continue to impede the ambitions and goals of so many women of different socioeconomic levels.
When you asked the class which countries were the most feminine by Hofstede’s definition, I was surprised when someone thought it was the United States. While I certainly enjoy living in this nation and the many freedoms we are afforded, I am also very aware of the many inequalities that still exist between men and women. Unlike Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands where women and men appear to be on more equal footing, women in the United States are still paid less than men and women comprise only 4.4 percent of CEOS of Fortune 500 companies. I think it is important to realize that many people are not fully aware of these inequalities. Maybe that is due to the great strides women have made in the last 70 or so years, but it is also a dangerous trend. If women in developed nations are not still trying to secure totally equal footing with men, how can we try to change people’s views in nations where gender archetypes are much more oppressive?
As we have heard and read many times, microfinance has been most instrumental in assisting women better their lives and their children’s lives. But sometimes cultures preclude poverty alleviation because of perceptions of gender roles. I would love for everyone in the world, despite education and income level, to be equal, but depending on the location, certain cultures simply will not allow for women to conduct business and help support their families. In these situations, what can MFIs and pertinent NGOs do? How can women lift themselves up without “forsaking” their culture or religion and not face exclusion? How can organizations successfully function in places where they may be perceived as actively trying to change a culture and its centuries old constructs and customs? I think culture is undoubtedly one of the biggest obstacles to overcoming poverty. I am interested in researching if and where people have been able to overcome crippling social structure with microfinance while maintaining their place in their community.
Log # 2By: Kaela Landon
This week in GLOBE we focused a lot on the role that gender plays in microfinancing. Through our readings we discovered that women are more likely than men to become borrowers and are also make up the poorest of borrowers. I found some of the factors very interesting as to why that is. For instance, the female borrowers tend to have families and are therefore less likely to run off with the money; on the other hand, the men are often bachelors or need only provide for themselves. I noticed connections between family values and overall make up to this idea. Many societies are heavily populated with single parent households, particularly single mothers. That realization caused me to look at our borrowers slightly differently because single mothers exist both in the developing nations in which we lend and here on the home front. When I find similarities amongst our worlds I feel more of a connection to our borrowers as people and the notion that the geographic, economic, and social distance and differences between us are not reasons to remain uninvolved in alleviating the struggles of our planet.
The Marketing Team has been working hard to utilize the resources and support what we already have as well as exploring ways to make new connections. Our team objectives and semester goals are quite ambitious but we all agreed it best to aim high. I am noticing already that we all have different talents and visions, which makes for very creative brainstorming sessions. I appreciate that our team environment is turning out to be a place where everyone will get to show off their strengths and develop new ones.
The Marketing Team started doing the background work for all of our visions. We have been focusing the majority of our efforts this week on solidifying a venue for the 5th Anniversary Mixer. I feel like we are under a lot of pressure given that this is such a milestone for GLOBE but I do not see that as a negative thing. Instead I believe that this is just motivating us to work harder and more creatively to ensure that this is a memorable and productive semester.
Log # 2By: Lin Yue Wang
GLOBE is really a different experience from any other class. It gives a feeling of worthiness because I know what we do here is making a small difference. Yet this small difference might just mean the difference in the world for some others out there living in poverty. I like how we address ourselves as GLOBE Managers instead of students because it reminds us of the responsibilities we have, and I can see how this class truly connects with GLOBE Managers altogether. The meeting with the former GLOBE Managers last week was fantastic and sincerely helpful. I was very surprised that many of them showed up on a late Tuesday night just to talk with us, but that also proved their passion for GLOBE never stopped. I believe that is the reason why GLOBE is so much more than just a class. Besides the three credits it offers us academically, what it really means to do is to connect us with a whole different world out there. The world of poverty that we are accustomed to reading, hearing, and talking about is now in our hands and we are able to contribute in our efforts to alleviate it. Words mean something, but actions means so much more, which is why I think GLOBE is a great opportunity for a hands-on approach and to do our part no matter how insignificant it might initially seem.
One of the articles I read this week was “Here’s a Woman Fighting Terrorism with Microloans”. The title immediately caught my attention and I thought to myself, “How does someone fight terrorism with money?” Roshaneh Zafar proved it could be done. She killed the roots of terrorism by educating and creating jobs for the poverty-stricken. The picture is then easily put together; an educated person with a decent job is much less likely to become a terrorist! As of today, she has helped nearly 300,000 million families. That number did not just happen overnight and it sure was not easy. It took almost 20 years and she had to overcome many struggles. Nevertheless, she never gave up; she stood by what she believed in. “Charity is limited, but capitalism isn’t,” Roshaneh said. “If you want to change the world, you need market-based solutions.” The concept is simple, but it is hard to enforce and there is no doubt about that. In the article, “Microfinance is Down, But Not Out.” The author pointed out microcredit may be used for other activities rather than improving livelihoods. I believe it is true and it is definitely an issue that needs to be worked on.
Nothing is perfect to begin with, but it could be improved. Microfinance is fairly a new concept that we have to preach to the poor; it is our job to help them to understand how microfinance will truly benefits themselves and the society as a whole. People are normally afraid of changes; therefore, giving them a loan without helping them truly understand the benefits of it could result in a worse situation. Changes are to be made, improvements are to be made, but none of these will be implemented unless there is action first. The most important thing is to take the first step in believing in microfinance and then we will be able to look into the flaws and make transformations.
Enterprise Development and Program Impact Audits
By: Daren Workeman
Last week, we had the opportunity to attend the Microfinance Club of New York sponsored event that had a theme of India and impact investing. The panel of guests consisted of two experts in the field of investing in India and a representative from Acumen—a global not-for-profit venture investment fund. These distinguished guests provided a diversified stream of knowledge in relation to the main theme of the event.
The representative from Caspian Advisors, Viswanatha Prasad, showed that he was extremely knowledgeable in his side of the equation in the flow of capital to Indian people. I understand that the matter of investing in a less established capital market, such as India, probably comes with a significant need for careful measurement. His philosophy seemed to be “measure twice and cut once” as he was able to deliver quantitative information at an advanced level. From what I was able to gather, his biggest concern in evaluating less-developed markets is the political climate. Most countries have their own political climate regarding investment into poorer people in these countries. Namely, political leaders look to impose policies that will regulate the inflow of capital, which can ultimately be negative and positive. These policies may be designed with the intention of staving off predators who may have wrongful ideas that can be exploitative to the people. At other times, leaders can simply be playing politics, impeding the banking of people through microfinance initiatives.
Another point that was brought up was about the risk with there being a concentration of activity in a few firms. The uncertainty revolving around this factor involves questionable practices that can be found with the consolidation of institutional power to provide services in the market. Industry enthusiasts do not want these few firms to begin taking advantage of the market because of few players and the lack of friction that comes with competition.
In other GLOBE experiences, we have been exposed to a thriving ‘microfinance’ organization that extends its activities beyond simply providing loans to people. Jamii Bora not only provides loans to help small business owners, it also provides a school to train and assist these people with job training. Their group also employs these people to help them sustain themselves after the initial help. It keeps their business focused on providing more investment into the task of poverty alleviation. To further its sustainability focus, Jamii Bora works with alcoholics, drug abusers, and unhealthy people to implement management for these inhibiting complications to their ability to completely lift themselves out of poverty.
Similar to Jamii Bora, I learned that Muhammad Yunus studied his potential clients and learned from them what products they needed to ensure success. He was unsure of how to approach ‘banking to the poor’; therefore he looked for ways around the conventional techniques of larger banks. This is important for me, as a manager in the Enterprise Development Team, because I can always take inspiration that Yunus found successful techniques that worked for him, as oppose to sticking to the society’s boundaries of what should be.
Finance, Budgets and Risk Assessment TeamLog # 3
By: Anna Ren
This week, I started to learn more details about two specific problems that microfinance companies face. I used to see the terms “foreign exchange risk” and “credit risk” merely as some business concepts that can incur losses and reduce profits. We should expect higher returns if we take on higher risks. “Smart” people should consider the odds and try to keep the risk exposure within a limit to avoid business failures. It seems that microfinance is going against the flow. What I did see was the exciting impacts that these loans have created; what I did not notice was the tragic stories behind every default.
We received a loan scheme report from Nigeria. Since three of our borrowers cannot be located, we needed to make a recommendation on whether these loans should be written off. One borrower, Elizabeth Osaro, has been ill for some months with chronic leg ulcer, but she promised to pay back the loan even though she is not able to continue the business. I believe every borrower, especially from such communities, wants to pay back their loans.
I stared at the cells that marked those ones who “cannot be located,” and thought to myself what could have happened to them. I realized that this is what we have to face every now and then if we are dealing with people in poverty. So many of them suffer from diseases and live in dangerous environments, we cannot even be sure if they will still be alive till the end of the loan term. The same issue applies to the foreign exchange risk; currencies are highly unstable and politics are highly unstable. FX risk exposures can be so severe for microfinance businesses. However, I am glad that people do not run away. Instead, creative talents have come up with solutions to problems, such as Jamii Bora’s disaster insurance and life insurance designed for borrowers’ specific situations. As GLOBE Managers, we should learn from them and take the initiative to come up with new strategies to deal with the problems our borrowers face.
Marketing and Fundraising TeamLog # 3
By: Raquel Paul
This week class was a little different because we did not actually meet in our classroom; we attended a Microfinance club of New York (MFCNY) event, “What’s Happening in India?” At this event we were planning on learning about the trends and highlights in microfinance and impact investing. The event was very interesting; however, I felt a bit lost in regards to the speakers. I was able to get most of my notes from the first speaker because he used a visual aid that was very beneficial to me. I think it was helpful to me because most of the speakers used microfinance jargon that I really did not know. The first speaker, Viswanatha Prasad, was from Caspian Advisors and I wrote down a few points from his presentation. The points included the new developments after the Andhra Praden crisis of 2010, that the Indian Microfinance Sector is back on the positive side, and there is an overall equity increase by 70%. Unfortunately, I could not hear most of what the second speaker, Ashwin Mahabaleswara, said but the third and final speaker, Sean Moore of Acumen, had some interesting points. The points were that Acumen has 6 centers of focus, early stage equity funds, and they were involved in new markers with high risk. Overall it was a great event that the GLOBE class was able to attend. I actually enjoyed the travel to and from Manhattan. It turned into somewhat of a bonding experience for me and some of the members of the class. I was able to get to know them better and this makes GLOBE that much more of a great experience.
We had our first meeting with Dr. Sama, Lina, Anastasia, and the Marketing Team. Four out of five of us were able to attend the meeting. I felt that we got a lot accomplished with the meeting. We were able to get the Marketing Team back on track and organized. I very much appreciated that meeting because I work best with structure and I felt that as a team we were a bit all over the place. After the meeting I was hoping to continue our inertia but to no avail. The Marketing Team has a lot on their plate and I am starting to feel that it is becoming overwhelming for members. I hope that we can get it together because there is so much to do and I do not want the work to fall on two or three out of five members on the team. As the research paper outline is approaching I am hoping that we can all come together and produce quality work. I do not want it come off as sloppy work as we are more than capable of doing excellent work. Communication is such a key aspect and that is definitely one skill that I feel every one in the class is gaining. We have the potential of greatness and that is so exciting to me!
Technology and Communications TeamLog # 3
By: Lin Yue Wang
What is the one thing that everybody desires? I believe it is world peace. World peace is a very broad topic; it could be discussed considering various issues. I would like to address two of them today that really struck to me during my readings this week. First is terrorism and the second is global warming.
The article I read, “Dozens of Students Killed in Nigerian School”, talked about suspect militants killing dozens of students on a college property. Some of the students were shot down, some were burned to death, and some had their throats cut open. An estimate of 40 students died. Officials suspect the attack by perpetrated by a terrorist network called Boko Haram. Nothing would ever justify what they did. It does not matter what kind of twisted beliefs they had or what kind of power they have, what they did should never happen in a world searching for peace. This unfortunate event also led to what I discussed about last week- how microloans and microfinance is closely related to education and people’s livelihood. If these militants had a chance to experience education themselves in the early age, I think their beliefs of no Western education would change; or at least, it is unlikely they would have joined a terrorist network and killed innocent children who were only trying to better themselves and most likely to benefit society! I believe terrorism is caused by ignorance on a certain level. Many terrorists are often lured by the wrong beliefs and they do not have the access to immediate and rightful information. That is why microfinance and microloans should be embedded on a deeper and international level to help them get access to these things. It may not be the absolute solution to terrorism but it definitely worth a try.
Another issue I want to raise attention to is how global warming is closely associated to the economy as well. In the book “Creating a World without Poverty,” Dr. Yunus illustrated how global warming is putting Bangladesh in danger of disappearing. This is truly a serious issue and it is urgent that people are aware of the situation globally. This really caused me to think because the same issue was raised last year when I took my science class. We imitated the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference and each student represented a country. I was representing Russia and my job was to make sure that the protocol did not happen. This is because if the protocol is established, it will hurt Russia’s economy and prevent maximum profits. However, this was just my obligation inside the class. My true desire goes to countries like Bangladesh, Vietnam, Guyana, and many more. These countries will be the first in line to face the seriousness of the sea level rising, but that does not mean it does not concern us. If one of these countries goes below the sea level, it will affect the world economy tremendously.
More importantly, we are not only talking about economy here, we are talking about these people’s lives! If every country and every organization counties follow the PMB strategy, it will put the entire world in danger in no time. I understand that developing countries like China and India are claiming that they have only begun to catch up with developed countries and it is not fair that they have to give it up now. Yet, nothing is fair. Would it be fair to the people in Bangladesh if their home goes under the water because of what we do? Would it be fair to our children if we used up all of our resources and left them in despair? If we do not slow the pace of global warming and reduce pollution by large scale, it is likely more and more people will be harmed. For example, many cities in China are plagued by severe fog and haze everyday. The visibility is really low. This phenomenon harms people physically on a huge scale, and it is not a hard question as what caused this phenomenon.
In conclusion, many of the significant issues we have today are tightly related to the economy. We should examine these issues on global scales and figure out what works the best for all of us. If people come to the understanding of how social business works just as well as PMB’s to gain profits, but also promote social welfare, we will move along on the way to stop global warming and terrorism from increasing.
Enterprise Development and Program Impact AuditsLog # 4
By: Kailah Cotton
As the program continues to progress, I can't help but notice an assortment of things that would help us as managers to make a genuine impact. If our work were limited to five villages (or even less) we could focus on the issues that plague communities and are at the root of poverty such as lack of education, alcoholism, health and safety etc. By limiting our scope we would be able to better track progress and make distinct connections with the people we aim to assist. Focusing more on the lack of education, integrity and accountability within the business field will better equip people with skills not only to maintain a business, but also to help it grow.
My group has been working tirelessly to write a research paper that will give insight to future impact auditors and the entire GLOBE managing team. We have decided to write on how political instability and structure within government affects borrowers’ sustained success. This is a great way of incorporating all of the issues we wanted to address initially, however we now have concrete evidence to fully back up our claim. I can already tell I have made lifelong friends through this program. The countless hours we spend doing work with one another has led to team dinners and study groups for other subjects. The work ethic of the Impact Auditing Team has astounded me. The cohesiveness and pure knowledge we have for laying out the foundational documents needed to carry out this responsibility is nothing short of excellent.
Lately, I have been keeping up with news with regard to the economy. I see this as a huge growth for me, because coming into this program I was very intimidated by the field of microfinance. By teaching myself the terminology and forcing myself to stay up-to-date on current events, I have been able to better contribute to group discussions and ideas we are constantly adding to our objectives. Spring Break has been the time my group and I needed to hone in on all the challenges we will face for the remainder of this program. I am excited to see how successful the other mangers have been, and I am more than ready to start documenting and holding them just as accountable.
Finance, Budgets and Risk Assessment TeamLog # 4
By: Joseph Miller
The workload and excitement for GLOBE have continued to pick up over the last two weeks. During that time, there have been several event and benchmarks that have been completed or planned. In the past week, I have attended an informational session for next semester as well as completed the loan recommendation for Pham Thi Men. The Finance Team has also been working hard on expanding the research paper outline and making it more detailed.
Although the informational session had a small turnout, I was glad to see that all 4 GLOBE teams were represented, and we were also able to answer all the questions that the prospective students had for us. However, it is definitely imperative that we get a bigger turnout for the next informational session. In addition, planning has also continued for the St. Patrick’s Day themed bake sale. Hopefully we are able raise funds for more loans while also increasing awareness for GLOBE among the student body!
Our main task that we have been working on throughout the last 2 weeks has been the loan recommendations. More specifically, I have been working on the loan for Pham Thi Men. After reviewing the loan, I see no reason why Pham should not be able to afford a monthly loan payment of $6.86 if her estimate of making $10.80 is close to being accurate. Recently, I have begun to further look into the vending industry in poorer countries, and have also found information that specifically relates to Vietnam. I will include the updated information in the revisions and final draft of the loan recommendation.
Today in class, one of the things that I found especially inspiring was the YouTube video on Marcela and the help that she received from Accion US. The short movie especially highlighted the difference in microfinance in the U.S. compared to third-world countries. Although Marcela had a job making $8 an hour at a hotel, no American banks would extend a business loan to start a business, and instead would only extend a loan to a year-old existing business. Thankfully, there are microfinance institutions such as Accion to help those less fortunate in this country who wish to start a business. In the next week, we plan on further fine-tuning our recommendations and also prepare for our midterm presentation.
Marketing and Fundraising TeamLog # 4
By: Berenice Bryant
Since the last log we have accomplished several key things. We have put together a letter and mailed it to former GLOBE managers in hopes of having a team ‘captain’ sort of arrangement from each class in order to raise attendance for the mixer. Along the same lines, we have completed the flyer for the April 11th mixer so that we are able to start getting that to circulate. We have reached out to Scott regarding the promotional items in hopes to have them in time for this mixer; unfortunately, we have yet to hear back from him on the status of these goods. If we do not hear from him by the end of this week, we will have to consider an alternate method of getting these promotional goods. Perhaps we will have to find a manufacturer ourselves and hope we can get a good rate.
The bake sale planning is going well. So far we have a good number of people baking and everyone who cannot bake is working the table at one point. In class today I will remind and confirm with everyone that they are able to follow through with their commitment. As long as everyone who says they can bake bakes a reasonable amount of treats, we should be in good shape. There have been a lot of bake sales going on around campus but they did not have any themes so hopefully ours will be more notable and successful. I am a bit worried that people will not be there when they said they would be, but seeing as we have several people during every time slot, we should have the table filled at all times. The flyers for the bake sale are really cute too, so that should draw in more of a crowd! I am interested about what kind of profit we will make from this bake sale. Hopefully, we will make hundred dollars in order to put a dent in our $3250 goal.
As far as the Marketing and Fundraising Team goes, we are doing well. We have been communicating effectively with one another and have been doing a better job separating work amongst our members. We have done work over break as well so that we are in good shape coming into this week. As long as we continue this way I have high hopes for our team!
Technology and Communications TeamLog # 4
By: Hannah Wang
Today was the first Info Session of Spring 2014. While there was a small turn out, I could not help but remember when I was in those students’ position. It really does not seem long ago that I was sitting among my competition and future colleagues, being introduced to a lot of unfamiliar information for a French major. Really, it has not been very long at all, but it is interesting to see how those who seemed like seasoned GLOBE managers last semester had really only been in the program for half a semester. Maybe that is all it takes to make a “seasoned” manager, but most of all, it showed me that we really only have so much time left this semester.
I keep thinking about how fast one month has gone by, and how we only have two more months in this semester left. While I am really looking forward to next semester, which I will be spending in Paris, I know that it only leaves a very limited time for current GLOBE managers to make a difference for borrowers. As part of the IT team, it is my responsibility to help spread the word so that other students at St. John’s will continue to make GLOBE what it is. While GLOBE managers return to “pass the torch” to incoming managers, we really are not going to be in such a close-knit atmosphere with our colleagues anymore. It really counts right now and it will continue to really count until we can pass this on to the next group successfully and it will continue to matter for them.
In other news, for my IB course, I am going to research Acumen, which we learned about at the MFCNY event we attended earlier last month. I am looking forward to learning more about the firm. Additionally, I think that Chapter 7 in the Ledgerwood text is going to be very useful to my team.
While we have been talking about delegating social media tasks, there are a lot of ways that we can keep organized as a team and as a class. Ledgerwood talks about buying software for accounting services and report writing for firms, but I think that what is important to grasp is that GLOBE should have a well organized system not just for communication but streamlined access to resources.
I want to propose a couple things to the class like a Facebook group for general announcements, and a joint Google account, perhaps by using an existing one and using Google Drive to share documents. These were ideas brought up by past managers and we are thinking of a way to make the process less bulky. Are other teams doing this amongst themselves already? Are there documents groups might NOT want to share with others? This might be a good way for the Enterprise and Development Team to do internal audits. I think this will make accessing each other easier, especially for IT to reach the Marketing Team. If they already have flyers on a shared Drive account, they can be shared through the Facebook page very quickly. Emails can be hard to look through for files because sometimes they pile up, but with a cloud service, we would all be able to access flyers, documents, PowerPoints, etc., more easily.
Ledgerwood attributes “poorly performing management information systems [to] a lack of clarity on the part of users and systems designers about precisely what needs to be tracked and reported,” so this is something we should work together on. Problems seem to stem particularly from “ poor identification of information needs, poor communication between management and systems personnel, [and] unrealistic expectations about information technology.” (170) This is a work in progress, but I think this will help us streamline a lot of what we can do.
Enterprise Development and Program Impact AuditsLog #5
By: Fabian Mendoza
This week was extremely productive for my team. We have finally started to shape our healthcare training modules and we already have the necessary information for the internal audits. Communication has been constantly improving and we are planning on working with the Marketing Team for one of our projects. We have started to work on a weekly agenda that addresses what we have to cover before each one of our meetings. We have also started working on the research paper and we divided the work in an equal manner and I am sure we will be able to finish it quickly if we all do our workload on time. Progress has also been made on starting the loan process in Honduras, which really makes me feel happy, I really hope that this idea materializes and that I can leave a legacy on the program.
I found last week’s lecture extremely interesting, especially the part about microcredit programs in developed nations. I really had not considered how different it was from developing countries, and it truly is amazing how you can do so much more with the money in poor countries. I definitely believe that even though it iss more cost efficient to invest in developing countries, microcredit programs could have a better impact on developed countries. The reason why I say this is because of all the access to resources and facilities that there are in a developed country can make a business venture a lot more effective. I am starting to see new aspects of microfinance that I had never thought about before and this is making my classroom experience a lot more interesting.
I really enjoyed working on the event last Thursday and I hope I can keep representing GLOBE in a good way at the upcoming events. It is really amazing to see how people react positively to the program and how encouraging they are when asked for support. I am proud to be part of the class and I am looking forward to what will come in the next weeks and to finalize some of the projects my team is working on in the near future.
Finance, Budgets and Risk Assessment TeamLog # 5
By: Radha Byagari
This past weekend I read a poignant and resounding article in The New York Times titled “Low-Wage Workers Are Finding Poverty Harder to Escape”. The article detailed the plight of low-wage workers in the United States. While I was already familiar with the general trends and statistics of the egregious income inequalities in this nation, the way Greenhouse, the author, spoke of them were just as disturbing as the first time I learned about them as a sophomore in high school. One of the most startling statistics spoke of the composition and compensation of low wage workers today, “[they] are older and more educated than 10 or 20 years ago, and they’re making wages below where they were 10 or 20 years ago after inflation”. The article also detailed the trials and tribulations of a 40 year old, single mother from Chattanooga who struggles every day to support her two children as a medical assistant at an assisted living facility.
She barely earns over $19,000 a year, receives $400 of food stamps each month and is on Medicaid along with her children and still cannot make it. She relies upon a nonprofit for help with her utility bills and worries endlessly about how she will support her son even if he lands a full scholarship to college. While many are wont to write off this hard working woman’s life as representative of a minuscule portion of this nation’s population, that simply not true. There are currently almost “25 million workers in the United States earning less than $10.10 an hour – the amount to which President Obama supports increasing the minimum wage”. Of those workers, 3.5 million make the $7.25 federal minimum wage or less. It undeniable, both statistically and logically, that surpassing the poverty line has become increasingly difficult in recent decades.
I think this reality is difficult for many outsiders, those who do not know the struggles of the single mother from Chattanooga, to reconcile with their image of the illustrious American dream and adage that if you work hard you can achieve anything in this nation. As sad as it is to say, for some people that age old phrase will never ring true.
I was lucky enough to grow up a diverse, semi-affluent award winning school district. As a result I had a great, substantive education and some wonderful teachers, the sort that try with great zeal to make their students really think. One of those teachers was my AP World History teacher. One day he gave a small lesson about economic thought and wealth distribution in the U.S., while it was not essential in an AP World class, he wanted to confront us with some startling realities. I suppose you could say he thought most of the students were over-privileged adolescents who did not really care about anything beyond acing the SAT, building their extracurricular resumes, and socializing. When he relayed statistics similar to the ones in the articles and then criticized most of the classes’ complete ignorance, many students bordered on flabbergasted and irked. I think that was one of the first times I realized how distorted wealth distribution is in the U.S., how polarized this nation is, and how unaffected people can be by the plight of others. Another eye-opening experience was reading the book Nickeled and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich. Ehrenreich didn’t just pen an exposé about the lives of American low-wage workers and their struggles; she became a low-wage worker and experienced how inescapable poverty can be. I wish this book was required reading for all high-schoolers. Perhaps then, we’d have a more informed youth and populace who cared about solving these problems.
The article and my recollections brought me back to last weeks’ presentation on microfinance in the United States. As we learned there are a number of MFIs in the U.S. but just as everywhere else, microfinance, even in the United States, cannot completely break the cycle of poverty. While the poor of the United States do not face as many barriers to improving standard of living as the poor of developing nations, there are still numerous obstacles that remain. I wonder if we’ll ever be able to achieve a better distribution of wealth if these trends continue and the majority of people continue with their Machiavellian thoughts on income and concern for their fellow man. Perhaps we could have a debate in class about wealth distribution in the U.S., its causes and solutions. It would probably cause quite a stir!
Marketing and Fundraising TeamLog # 5
By: Seema Rani
Last week I feel like we finally accomplished an objective we had. The bake sale turned out to be great, since we were able to make almost $400. It was a fun experience for me, because I had never been part of a bake sale on campus. I felt like I was a part of something while setting up the bake sale, speaking to people about the organization, and getting people to fill out applications. The only thing I felt that was hard for me was getting people to buy the raffle tickets. I feel that most people were getting excited about the raffle tickets and prizes, but when they were told that they would find out about it in May, they were less willing to buy them. It is just a little too far away, so I think that it would be a better idea to sell them closer to May.
In our previous GLOBE class, I remembered we discussed the differences between poverty in developing countries in comparison to poverty stricken people in the developed countries. This was really interesting to me, because I always wondered why we cater to people in developing countries when we have poverty here in America. I learned how people in developed countries that live in poverty are more educated in comparison to people in developing countries. They also seem to be more aware of opportunities and help that are around them, and if they are not aware of it, they will be in some way or some form. In developed countries, they will be more informed of help and ways they can get them because there are people around them that are educated and more willing to get help for them. This is not the same as the situation for people living in poverty in the poorer countries. A lot of people are uneducated and not literate, which limits them from such information, and so are many people around them. There is also a limited amount of help available in the first place. These places do not have food stamps or such programs which work to alleviate poverty. I am glad I got the answer to something I always wondered about, and as Dr. Sama suggested, I will make sure I explain this to people who wonder why GLOBE caters to people in developing countries while there is poverty in America.
Technology and Communications TeamLog # 5
By: Yemisi Aribo
This week I was inspired to write this blog as if it were a sort “progress report” of what I learned in GLOBE thus far, in the spirit of midterm week. The class has really given me a new perspective on how I look at whom we give loans to and the lives they lead. I was inspired to look at who they are beyond what they are hoping to accomplish in terms of their business goals.
Women in Nicaragua, for instance, are largely in charge of tasks heavily involved in manual labor. Caring for children, carrying water, and collecting fuel wood are typically expected of a wife. Gender equality is an extreme issue for these women. They go day-to-day facing major health care issues such as maternal mortality rates and malaria, which are both very high in Nicaragua. Fifty percent of its 5.5 million people are living below the poverty line making it increasingly difficult to better their lives. Though microfinance has issues of its own, it aims to encourage hope in these people so that they may not give up on the dream of a more self-sustainable future.
Women in Kenya do most of the physical labor needed for their community. Yet they receive a fraction of the income generated from the work they produce. Nearly 40% of the households of the poor are run by women. However, because of their low income, these households are in extreme poverty. Women are continuously educated at an inferior rate compared to their male spouses. It is very difficult to imagine being a single mom and having to care for multiple children whom you know you will most likely not be able to bring out of poverty. GLOBE and other similar organizations have increased hope and motivated many to rid themselves of that fear.
These women are a testament to power. They are not strong for women; they are simply strong. When I put myself in their shoes and imagine myself going through their day-to-day activities, I do not know if could do it. I might have given up already. It is incredibly inspiring and humbling to be a part of an effort to reward these women for what they are doing for themselves and their families.
Enterprise Development and Program Impact AuditsLog # 6
By: Edmund Inorkpor
The Steering Committee Meeting was very revealing, interesting and informative. It gave me a new perspective that I personally think other GLOBE members might not have. It gave me a snippet of the boardroom experience.
Generally in life, you have to make do with what you have; it sometimes offers you very limited opportunities and you are suppose to ride on the wings of these opportunities to build yourself. The irony is that these opportunities do not present themselves glaringly, so for most part, people miss out because they are waiting for this well-packaged opportunity that comes honking at them to take advantage of. Many have lived their life in this manner and few have taken advantage of the unannounced or disguised opportunities to build a life deserving emulation. One can either see GLOBE as just a course requirement or one of those school programs that you get the opportunity to be part of, or you can also see it as a business entity of which you are in fact an actual manager as you might be in a corporate environment. You can see it as a living organism that needs to be cultivated and nurtured and takes a conscious effort.
GLOBE is a one-of-a-kind program that gives you the opportunity to discover yourself through the process of continuous creativity and innovation. The Steering Committee Meeting gives a complete perspective on how business is conducted in general- a situation where managers go to board meetings to make decisions that directly or indirectly affect the business. The decisions must be well thought-out, well researched and well coordinated so as to avoid any opposition. Your ability to get new decisions or new policies approved is directly related to how well you can sell your ideas, or how well you can prove that your ideas are doable, which I personally think gives you a corporate experience that most of us as students aspire to be a part of. I also think that the Finance and Risk Assessment Team did a fantastic job in presenting and defending their ideas. You could see on the faces of the Steering Committee members that they were impressed and there was an aura of satisfaction when the Finance Team was done with their presentations. The ease with which they got the loans approved makes you wonder if it was usually that simple, but a few comments from the committee members reveals that it is now always smooth.
The lesson I have taken from this is that our attitude in life determines how far we can go. When you are given a small responsibility, put all the effort you can into it and make it the best; that is the only way you can prove to be capable of taking on bigger and more demanding responsibilities.
The GLOBE Program can serve as an excellent platform of preparing you not only for the job market, but also empowering you to be able to start your own enterprise. It all depends on you; you get out of it what you invest.
Finance, Budgets and Risk Assessment TeamLog # 6
By: Anna Ren
Our focus this week was on risk and performance management. Prior to this week, I thought that the biggest risk microfinance institutions face was credit risk since our borrowers live in less safe environments that often lead to health issues. I also thought that foreign exchange risk shared top importance due to the scope of political or economic problems in those countries. To my surprise, the greatest risk microfinance institutions face is actually management of weakness. Actually, like regular banking institutions and corporations, poor management can be the biggest factor that leads to company failure. Luckily, unlike outside risks, this type of risk is controllable. From other business classes, I learned that greater attention should be given to preventative actions because corrective actions cost much more. This led me to think about what we can do to benefit GLOBE.
One of the responsibilities of our team is to analyze and recommend loans to the Steering Committee. In the very beginning we were not even clear if we needed a PowerPoint or written documents. Dr. Sama had to send us samples from previous managers, and we were scratching our heads trying to come up with points that would make realistic and comprehensive recommendations. We see the need to have a formal guideline created for future GLOBE managers so that the process can be easier and less time-consuming. The guideline should not only include sample recommendations, but also areas they should consider, such as borrowers need, credibility, capacity, etc. It might also be helpful to have guidelines categorized by borrower types. Examples include entrepreneurs with existing businesses, entrepreneurs starting new businesses, and workers requesting equipment. We could also give some record of good questions from the Steering Committee so they can be more prepared for the presentations. Hopefully, by doing so our future loan recommendation process can be more efficient so that borrowers can receive our money sooner.
Marketing and Fundraising TeamLog # 6
By: Raquel Paul
I thoroughly enjoyed last class because I got to learn about what the other teams have been doing up to this mid-way point. I somewhat forgot about the fact that we have three other intricate teams that have large responsibilities that keep GLOBE going. In that regard I learned so much from last class. I especially enjoyed the Finance Team and the IT Team. The Finance Team has always been a type of mystery because I never knew what went into vetting the loans and gaining more information about potential borrowers. The Finance Team presented aspects of the loan process that were very intriguing. For example, when they talked about researching a scooter for the young lady to go to work safely. I found it interesting that they looked up local prices for the scooter and researched what it would cost to repair, should it break down. That was interesting because for such a little amount of money, we are improving her working life and safety by a lot. That truly means great things as far as GLOBE’s impact. As a marketing major, social media is becoming more and more integrated into the job description. Furthermore, I enjoyed each of the IT members break down of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter so analytically. I learned so much about GLOBE last class because I was able to learn from my peers and what exactly they do that fits into the success of GLOBE.
This past Monday was very exciting because I was able to take part in the GLOBE Information Session. I know that my team member Berenice had mentioned that at the last GLOBE Information Session there was a lack of attendance. It was my goal to get the word out about the last one! I got copies of the flyer from Lina and placed them around my dorm building and slid them under doors. I spoke to my classmates and coworkers about the class as well. I also tweeted about it because social media is so large for college students and more specifically St. John’s University students. It was great seeing people I knew attend the information session because I felt like I was able to get the word out. Even wearing my t-shirt on Monday was a great free way of advertising the class. A couple of people asked me about my shirt so I was able to give some information on what we do. I also liked how the informational was set up because we were able to talk one on one with people that were interested and answer their questions about what the class entailed from a student perspective. It is exciting and I hope that next semester’s class can pick up where we leave off and take GLOBE to the next level!
I am very excited about moving onto our next bake sale since the results from our first bake sale were so good. Hopefully, we can do even better! It is so great getting the marketing and fundraising experience as a marketing major. The Marketing Team as a whole is excited to move forward with the USBs and hopefully get them by the mixer. We are hoping to sell 3/4ths of the USBs, if not all of them by end of the semester. I think we are at point that it would not be a loss by selling them at a price of $10. College students can afford it and they are 2 GB, which is a lot of storage space. There is much to be accomplished within the last few weeks of the semester but I think we will accomplish everything that we set out to do from the start.
Technology and Communications TeamLog # 6
By: Emma Lara
Today in class we discussed risk management of microfinance organizations. They obviously face more external risks being that they deal with people living in developing countries. One interesting risk that was brought up was whether the exchange rate can work against the borrower. If the exchange rate changes unfavorably toward the borrower they will bear the weight of the increase when making repayments or when receiving their loan.
I remember in my reading from a few weeks ago about how climate change affects the poor in developing countries rather than people in developed countries. The monsoons in parts of India and Bangladesh destroy entire villages and kill hundreds a year make it nearly impossible for these people to lift themselves out of poverty. People are struggling to just maintain a lifestyle, let alone be able to find stable work. The environment ruins the landscape, which is a major source of their potential income.
I am really glad with the GLOBE video and how technology is being used to reach new potential members. We are really pushing GLOBE on all social media to reach students and potential donors. This week I really want to get more Twitter followers so I will be posting at least twice a day so it stays on people minds. I have gotten the run-through by Hannah on how to fully utilize the Google Drive and we want every group to be posting on the Drive. It is so easily accessible to people and hopefully our ultimate goal to make this transferable to future GLOBE classes so they have a more steady starting basis when they join the class, are not starting from scratch, and have more room to grow.
Enterprise Development and Program Impact Audits
By: Daren Workeman
The Enterprise Development Team has begun a new course, and it is something that I’m happy to have been a part of. We have marked the completion of two internal audits, which means that now there is a potential system of management in the direction of the overall program from an intra-program standpoint. During this time, I am in charge of the Finance and Risk Assessment Team, and essentially I have developed a series of auditing questions that attempt to illustrate the progress of the group’s work.
Some of the things that create the focus for the group, are questions like rate your progress, add comments on this progress, and give a sense on what direction has so far been taken by the Finance and Risk Team. I enjoy working with the team and really feel like I am becoming part of the family there! I would like to improve the system, and hope that it improves as time moves on into the future of the program. My main concern for this type of system is to provide a direct relationship between the Enterprise Development Team and the other teams within GLOBE. The problem with developing a system is mostly coming down to how to make things fair, while also ensuring that it can be results driven.
My vision is that GLOBE can be developed so that it has a systematic set of boundaries or inputs that come at the hands of each team ran by GLOBE managers. This is a vision that can lead to a sustainable program long even after Dr. Sama has moved on to other things. It also will allow for a more efficient student-ran program. More efficiency will allow the students to utilize their time for gaining more knowledge and creating more ideas of tackling the challenges GLOBE is faced with. But this vision requires extensive thinking as to what standards can and should be met. If all managers met standards first, as immediate work requirements, and these standards were designed so that they could all be met in a Henry Ford scientific management manner, which will give potential fresh ideas privilege. This is speeding up the process of the more tedious needs that keep the program running, so that all hands can be freed up to be put to use for things that will lead to the next step for GLOBE.
But the point is that I am excited for GLOBE and the potential growth for the program. I am glad that my progress has form—the progress report went well—and also that we are here still able to add more to the program.
Finance, Budgets and Risk Assessment Team
Log # 7
By: Radha Byagari
I thought Dr. Brenton gave a very interesting and thought provoking lecture. While I had heard of GIS before, I found Dr. Brenton’s crash course in GIS and its many uses very informative; especially considering it’s something I wouldn’t learn about in my classes. He explained GIS, in the scheme of poverty mapping, are a set of research tools used for mapping and analyzing factors that can assist in global development and contribute to breaking the cycle of world poverty. Poverty mapping is the spatial representation and analysis of indicators of human wellbeing and poverty. Dr. Brenton communicated that community stakeholders and decision makers are increasingly employing GIS as a tool to generate poverty maps to help them identify community strengths and areas where development is needed. Unfortunately, the most sophisticated GIS are extremely costly and require extensive knowledge to optimize their capabilities. While there are a number of free GIS, they can’t be fully utilized because of the skills and training necessary.
We looked at a number of different charts that displayed the many uses of GIS. I personally was really interested by the plethora of purposes that GIS can be used for, i.e. tracking disease spread, soil quality, etc. GIS can make visual renderings of serious problems, which could have the potential to interest more people.
The entire lecture and the different examples of implementations of GIS actually reminded me of my high school MUN (Model United Nations) career. MUN tends to carry a dichotomized reputation, it’s a bunch of semi-pretentious adolescents who want to assume roles as different heads of states and stage crazy pseudo UN committees, but it’s also a bunch of kids who actually care, usually, about important issues and want to at least try to craft solutions for these issues. Personally, MUN was a great way to learn about and contemplate serious issues and events that we didn’t have time to learn about in AP US History and grow my analytical and critical thinking skills. I think the exposure to current events and real world issues that MUN affords students is wonderful and it would be great if more kids had the chance. I realize I’m quite lucky to have grown up where I did; unfortunately many schools cannot afford these type electives and programs.
In the same vein, I think learning about current events and the like should be an integral
element of social studies curriculum in secondary schools. Social studies was one of my favorite subjects and still is; I realized most 12-year-olds don’t think of reading Marie Antoinette’s biography as great fun, though I’d beg to differ then and now. Unfortunately, I’ve found that many people don’t like history. Maybe it’s because they cannot contextualize the importance of learning about history and applying that knowledge to current problems and issues of different varieties, which is where current events comes in. I’m not well informed on education reform, so that could be a bit of a pipe dream but I think shaping better informed, global citizens is a admirable endeavor nonetheless.
In sum, I would like to continue to learn about GIS, on my own and experiment with evaluating different issues. I think using GIS in GLOBE beyond the borrower map, maybe for risk assessment in future semesters would be really interesting. I realize the logistical and technical barriers but it’s worth considering. Historic default rates and preventable disease incidences could be mapped for example and could be used to see if there is a relationship and serious risk to consider. It’s learning about things like GIS and then using that information that makes GLOBE such a unique and useful class.
Marketing and Fundraising Team
Log # 7
By: Kaela Landon
St. John’s University has a host of social cause organizations, in addition to its many academic and fraternal societies. I had the pleasure of attending the “Justice Games”, an event hosted by the Student’s For Global Justice. Hannah (from IT) and I represented GLOBE. All of the organizations had created interactive games that informed individuals of various social injustices happening around the world and awarded winners, tickets for a raffle.
Our game was a spin off of the famous TV Show, “The Price is Right”. We asked players to guess the cost of various commodities that college students buy, like Chinese food or electronic items. We revealed the actual costs and took that as an opportunity to talk about the loans that we administer to our borrowers. It was intended to get people thinking about how they use their money and how they could do so more efficiently. For example, the new Xbox One game console has a fair market value of $500, which is the same amount Maria del Socorro Robleto Madriz of Nicaragua borrowed to start her school and crafts supply tore.
Growing up I had an Xbox game system and an older PlayStation system that I played Grand Theft Auto and Crash Bandicoot on, respectively. These games were merely for my entertainment and did not serve any purpose other than that. It is interesting that in our society an amount spent on entertainment could be used to fund a business in another country – as a kid I never thought of that as a possibility, as I’m sure most kids don’t. It should be noted that $1 US is approximately 25 Nicaraguan Córdoba, which would value Maria’s loan at about 12,500 Nicaraguan Córdoba. The foreign exchange rate system is a complex one as currency quotes are constantly changing due to economic, social, and political events. It should be noted that since the value of the US dollar is high in comparison to that of developing nations, American MFIs like GLOBE, have the opportunity to make a substantial impact on poverty alleviation!
Last week, the GLOBE managers met with members of the Steering Committee to get loans approved in Vietnam and deliver team objectives and progress. The Committee members approved the loans and offered some suggestions to close out the semester. It was apparent to see the commitment to GLOBE and the university as a whole, in that the committee members set time out of their schedule and two of our in-field members from the Daughter’s of Charity were present via conference call.
The Marketing Team has placed an order for this semester’s promotional item, now we wait on its delivery. Our efforts are still heavily centered on the 5th Year Mixer, just around the corner, but we have also found time to discuss our research paper. The Marketing Team will be examining the aid microfinancing gives to impoverished women in East Asia, where gender roles are heavily segregated. That was quite a mouthful but a relevant and interesting topic as well. Women represent the poorest and majority of our borrowers. We intend to explore the assistance that becoming self-sufficient has financially, socially, and even politically. Our research should provide useful information to future GLOBE managers and impact the operating activities of the program.
Technology and Communications Team
Log # 7
By: Hannah Wang
I just returned home from the Justice Games event. I had planned on going to a French culture event but luckily it was rescheduled. I am glad I came to represent GLOBE with Kaela at the Justice Games for a number of reasons. The event was enriching, many people came to represent issues in social justice as well as to learn. It was a way to gauge interest in GLOBE from students who were interested in social justice but also a small inter-team bonding activity. Kaela and I were able to share about GLOBE to students and other tables and although we tried to make an interactive game to attract visitors; I think that GLOBE spoke for itself in a lot of ways. We distributed most of the applications that Lina gave to us after informing qualifying juniors and seniors who showed interest. We hope that they do apply and were not just being nice...
Brenna asking GLOBE to be represented at her club’s event showed me that GLOBE does not end with GLOBE. Every manager has a way to spread GLOBE’s message through being resourceful, but also generous. I had a chance to speak with her momentarily and she was very glad that we came. Not only does GLOBE have a lasting effect and relationship with its managers, it also can make lasting relationships with other organizations. We have been invited back to next semester’s event and to other events that the Global Social Justice Club is holding and I think that is wonderful.
Enterprise Development and Program Impact Audits
Log # 8
By: Kailah Cotton
This past weekend several GLOBE Managers and I attended the Tobin College of Business Plan Competition. I was certainly in awe at some of the amazing ideas students presented. I particularly enjoyed speaking with them about how their creative entrepreneurial skills would be an asset to our program. Collaborations are a great way to spread our mission. At our table display we sold several raffle tickets and promoted this week's mixer at Hudson Station.
I am happy to report that my team and I are in the final stages of finishing our healthcare modules for the Nicaraguan borrowers. The hardest part for me has been finding locations to refer them to for free medical care. In America, we certainly take advantage of all the health organizations and institutions that are able to provide pro bono treatments. Perhaps as GLOBE continues to progress, access to a full-fledged health clinic can be a benefit offered to borrowers that successfully pay back their loans.
Throughout the semester I have educated myself as much as possible in all areas of microfinance. Recently I found out that Bandhan has become the first microfinance institution to get a banking license. As one of the youngest entities to be allowed to enter the banking space, this institution beat out several corporate offices such as ADAG Group, Aditya, Brila Group and Bajaj Group. After being assessed on both qualitative and quantitative aspects, financial statements, 10-year track record, proposed business models, and ability to demonstrate capabilities for running a bank, they were recognized for their microfinance sector and hard work to provide unimaginable opportunities to people living in poverty. This type of news reassures me that, although this field has so much difficulty measuring impact and effectiveness, there is still hope being given to the less fortunate to live more promising lives.
Finance, Budgets and Risk Assessment Team
Log # 8
By: Noelle Taddeo
This has been a slow week in comparison to what this semester has been like with GLOBE; although, we did receive a bit of excitement with the news of a new loan opportunity for a family that wishes to build their own house. I know it is still premature, but I think I approve of this loan. The fact that this family of four is willing to manually build their own house with $2000 is impressive in my eyes. It may be because I have lived a very fortunate life, but to build your own home with that small of a budget is unheard of in the United States. I commend them for having already saved approximately $1300; that shows us that they’re willing to be financially responsible to care for their family. I propose that this makes them an ideal candidate. I know that GLOBE originated by only giving out loans to entrepreneurs, but who is to say that poverty alleviation cannot be found in lending to people for other uses. By giving this loan to this family, their children will have a dry and more comfortable place to live, which will aid in developing a dry studying environment when they start school. I think their parents are smart borrowers and will have no trouble at all repaying the loan.
In class today, we watched a short film about illness awareness and prevention done by a microfinance institution. I think it is absolutely astounding how such small efforts have exponential results. It’s helping strong and independent women survive when sickness does strike. Otherwise, they would lose their businesses or make every necessary sacrifice to ensure they and their families get the medical care that they need. They no longer have to sacrifice everything for the sake of medical treatment any longer because they have the opportunity to get a low interest rate health loan due in 15 months to alleviate the financial strain. I think it is a wonderful program and I hope it continues to spread and grow because these women and their families are capable of so much more and avoidable illness shouldn’t keep them down.
Marketing and Fundraising Team
Log # 8
By: Berenice Bryant
It’s crunch time in the season for the Marketing and Fundraising Team. We have a month left of school and heaps of money to raise as well as several events to execute. This Friday is GLOBE’s 5-year anniversary mixer and with so many people in attendance we need to have everything all sorted by Thursday night so come Friday we only have to set up and manage working the door. Streamers, balloons, promotional items, photos, envelopes all have to be in order to have a successful event. Additionally, it was a pleasant surprise to find out we would be having a talented photographer joining us at this week’s mixer. It will be nice to have pictures of all the present and former GLOBE managers mingling as well as the overall event for future promotional purposes. I am curious as to how many people may show up to the event but only time will tell. Additionally, the bake sale is coming up. We have had everyone that was in class today sign up to participate in one-way or another and some both. As these events are essentially back-to-back with no class splitting it up I will be sure to send out an email reminder to the GLOBE managers reminding them of what they have signed up to partake in and ensure all shifts are being covered by at least two managers. I hope to make the same amount in baked good if not more than last time but really want to sell a lot more raffle tickets than last bake sale!
Today in class we discussed the prospect of making a club that works hand-in-hand with GLOBE. I think this is a neat idea as it gives the class some continuity for former managers who still want to be involved and for those who had an interest in the course of microfinance but their schedule does not allow for them to take this course, they can still be involved and play a vital role in GLOBE’s success.
Lastly, as a senior I have been going through many interviews trying to get myself employed before graduation and I cannot begin to express how my experiences with GLOBE have proved valuable to me. For a management position I was asked multiple situational questions requiring the STAR method of answering and my experience with GLOBE give me an opportunity to answer these questions as well as demonstrate the impact the class has on not only my education but also communities in developing countries. Employers have been very interested in the program as well surprised that we are actually issuing real loans to developing countries. This course has been such a great experience for me in so many ways has and has stimulated new interests that I previously did not even know enough about to have.
Technology and Communications Team
Log # 8
By: Lin Yue Wang
The Enterprise Team gave our internal audit report back today and I thought they did an amazing job on this. It is absolutely useful to help us keep on track and reaching our goals step-by-step. Our goal for the next two weeks is to advertise the mixer and the bake sale, which is this Friday and next Monday. One of the former GLOBE managers already created an event for the mixer on Facebook and I am also one of the event planners in it. They invited people such as their friends and other former GLOBE mangers, and I invited everyone from our current class and some of my own friends who I thought might be interested in GLOBE. We invited 918 people altogether and 51 of them has confirmed that they will be attending the event. 15 of them said they might come, which is a good sign as well! Also many faculty members will be attending the event and who are not on the Facebook invite list, so I am positive that we will have a successful event and a great time. We are also looking forward to bring our word map alive and present it at the mixer to help GLOBE characteristics to stand out.
The second project we have on hand is to add the borrowers’ information to the poverty map; we also received help through email from former GLOBE manager to achieve this. It is respectable that even after managers have left the class, they are still so caring and offering their efforts to this organization. The poverty map helps to easily analyze the location and provides brief information of borrowers as well as gives a general number of how many borrowers we have had and still recruiting.
Finally, the Enterprise Team liaison came up with another intelligent project for us to work on. They are gathering information on cellphone companies and we are looking to buy cellphones at a reasonable wholesale price to give to our borrowers. I think it’s an incredible idea and something achievable. I appreciate that Enterprise Team giving us the opportunity to take over the project because it is closely related to technology and our research papers. It will get us hands on to provide a technology-based support for our borrowers. It will also help us to connect with them if necessary. Even though the semester is nearing the end, but we still have so much to accomplish. However, I think all of our efforts are being paid off and we are on the right track. I can’t wait for the mixer and the next bake sale, I am definitely looking forward to raising more funds to reach our fundraising goals!
Enterprise Development and Program Impact Audits
By: Edmund Inorkpor
Most Microfinance Institution (MFIs) has faced the challenge of borrowers inability to repay loans due to ill health. This is even evident in the cases of some of our borrowers. This calls for a comprehensive reconsideration of microfinance. It doesn't make sense to give loans to people in deprived communities with the goal of alleviating poverty only for the borrowers to land back in poverty accompanied with so much debt. This can end up leaving them in a more dire situation; thus a sick, poor, and indebted person would not be able to get well in due time, nor can they feel confident enough to want to help themselves out of poverty.
It therefore makes more sense for some microfinance programs to add to their various portfolio healthcare programs; it presents a more holistic approach to dealing with the issue of poverty alleviation. In this regard, the GLOBE program is considering adding some form of healthcare package. One of the concerns of this is the temptation to lose focus of the main goal of the GLOBE program or the inability to properly manage the healthcare program remotely so as to have the right impact. An additional consideration is the lack of funds to provide comprehensive healthcare in the first place.
These I strongly believe are genuine concerns and make it very difficult to roll out a healthcare program in the case of the GLOBE, but the fact is that there is never a project that doesn't have challenges. It is the challenges that make you look back in admiration with how far you have come regardless of the numerous issues that one may encounter upon embarking on a project. With creativity, GLOBE members can devise very innovative ways to develop a workable healthcare program.
Partnership: Per our internal meetings, partnership is one of the possible effective means for carrying out our healthcare programs. Since we work remotely, it makes it very difficult to carry out certain projects that need the physical presence of an officer to successfully execute. Thus, we can partner with both local and international NGOs, which can work in proxy for us. This will mean coming into a certain understanding with these agencies and providing them with the necessary resources so they may deliver our programs.
With relation to resources (funds), we can seek out health care agencies (healthcare NGOs) that are ready to partner with us to deliver their services to our borrowers. All we will be doing here is helping them locate our borrowers in the countries that we both operate in, sign them up, and then they can benefit from these services. Problems of dealing with logistics wouldn't be an issue.
Another crucial component is "knowledge". In most of these communities that we have seen so far, sometimes all they need is knowledge that could serve as a great tool in disease prevention. In most cases it is better to prevent illness than cure it. So therefore, creating training modules, just as the Enterprise Development and Impact Audits Team is doing, will go a long way in helping the healthcare program.
I don't have all the answers to the challenges of starting a healthcare program, but if both current and future members are given the opportunity to come up with holistic, systematic, and innovative solutions, consider all the challenges and look for ways to surmount them, there can be headway. Creating a healthy microfinance system is possible in our case; it takes looking beyond the traditional ways of thinking of how it will be possible.
Healthcare is critical to the success of GLOBE and so it must given attention. In the initial stages of joining the program, I wondered what healthcare has to do with microfinance, but previous classes brought it into perspective for me. It sheds more light on why healthcare delivery could be the backbone of GLOBE.
Finance, Budgets and Risk Assessment Team
Log # 9
By: Nam Phan
Last week was such an amazing week and hallmark for our GLOBE class. We had our Mixer to celebrate the 5th year anniversary of GLOBE. The event was a huge success with 9 out of 11 class semesters’ representatives in attendance. It was a pure joy to see former GLOBE managers, who are so successful and they still reach back to the program. I believe that the education from GLOBE does not end when you finish the semester, but it keeps on going later in your career. It was such an amazing opportunity to meet with other GLOBE managers and share our experiences together about GLOBE. We also had time to build our relationships and create better team bonding. The most wonderful part for me was to see the pictures of all GLOBE classes hanging on the wall.
In addition to the Mixer, we also had another bake sale on Monday. Once again, the event was also a success because we brought in some money for GLOBE and we sold some more raffle tickets. It was such a success thanks to the participation of everyone, who baked and set up the tables. We also had chance to promote GLOBE to the fellow students in St. John’s.
Besides the two events last week, our Finance and Risk Assessment Team also worked on the new loan application from Vietnam. This application is different from other ones because the applicant requested the loan to build a new house instead of running a business. Today we presented the loan to the whole class and received different feedback. Even though it is something different that we have not done in the past, I believe that it is worth our time and money to help this applicant. Investing in a house could help them improve their quality of life and set some basic foundations for their kids. Receiving different feedback from the class was a good way for us to prepare when we have a meeting with the Steering Committee.
Our plan in the next few weeks is to keep working on the loan application and the loan recommendation. We hope to finally get it approved and send the money to the applicant in Vietnam. Also, we will finalize our research paper and get started on the final presentation.
Marketing and Fundraising Team
Log # 9
By: Kevin Moniquette
This week has felt like the most productive and successful week for the Marketing and Fundraising Team as well as the class overall. We had just celebrated our 5th year anniversary at the Hudson Bar & Grill Restaurant, where we invited each semester class to come join in our celebration. Unfortunately, 2 out of 11 semester classes weren’t represented at this celebration but was still a great turnout having 9 out of 11 semesters represented. Other people came to our event, such as donors and friends of people within the classes as it was advertised with flyers around campus for others to come join and support GLOBE. We talked to older managers on what we had accomplished in class as well as asked for ideas or advice to improve so that we can pass on the baton to the following class. We had the opportunity to explain to our donors that came what we do exactly and how the money we raise is being spent.
We also had a bake sale, which wasn’t as successful as our first one, but we raised enough to approve at least one microloan. We did sell a few raffle tickets and sold one of the promotional items we had come up with this year, which was the 2GB USB-drive.
This week we learned of the concepts of microinsurance and microsavings. The previous week I read a journal article about microinsurance so I understood a little bit about the concepts behind having microinsurance in third world countries. I learned more on the microsavings aspect for people living in poverty. Microsavings consist of smaller deposits that are offered to individuals for them to store for future purposes. These small deposits could eventually help people get better education, build their business or any other future investment. Often the individuals are not charged for the service because the requirements are too low and are usually waived.
Technology and Communications Team
Log # 9
By: Lin Yue Wang
We had our second bake sale for Easter and we raised about $260 dollars, which is a good result. It was not only a good way to raise funds for our organization but also a great opportunity to tell people what GLOBE is about. For the first bake sale, I only told people that we were doing this for GLOBE and that it was for a good cause, but I did not explain what the good cause was to every single person unless they asked. This time, I was teamed up with Fabian and we went around Marillac cafeteria and DAC to sell our goods. He is fabulous and patient. Fabian explained GLOBE as an organization. Thanks to him, we brought the attention of a lot of students interested in GLOBE and they contributed. I was also glad to hear that someone applied for GLOBE because they had learned about us through the bake sale. We received many compliments on our mixer as well due to the hard work of the Marketing Team. Our program really builds itself based on teamwork.
We also reviewed another applicant in class today who is applying for a loan of $750 (roughly) to reconstruct their house. The borrower has two children aged 3 and 5, respectively. We had a discussion about whether this loan is suitable for GLOBE or if it was out of capacity. Questions were raised on whether GLOBE should start to provide loans that are not used towards business expansion. Where do we draw the line in terms of the objective of loans? I personally agree with the Finance Team. First of all, like Anna said, we have extra funds waiting to be issued. That money would mean so much more if we use it to help these families in poverty alleviation rather than if they continue to sit there in our bank accounts. Ultimately, our goal is to help people lift themselves out of poverty in one way or another. We are giving them a loan to reconstruct their house, so they can have better and safer living conditions for their family.
Better and safer living conditions will provide a great environment for the children in terms of studying and growing up. It means much less stress for the parents, who can now go out and focus on bringing in some extra income. Either way, like Dr. Sama said, we are providing an opportunity for them that they cannot obtain by themselves.
Enterprise Development and Program Impact Audits
Log # 10
By: Daren Workeman
It’s the final log! While I say that with joy, it isn’t because I’m happy the class is over. I’m happy that the class is completed. It feels like a success to have gone through this class, from day one, and to be at the end with all of the memories to look back on. Being near completion of this class I feel great to be preparing for final presentations as well as for the reflections and to be able to look back at the semester.
After tonight’s class, I am really fond of the video about the shoemaker. It is amazing to see that type of story, because for me that is what this is all about. It is not just about writing that one loan that helps one person, but being able to write that one loan is helping an entire community. When that happens, you aren’t just helping; you are actually tackling problems. These problems include lack of investment in the community, lack of organization amongst the native people, and inexistence of an outlet for youth and other people. To be able to create communities that have the same sort of peripheral stemming from this one source can lead to stronger people. It creates wealth right within the community. Wealth along with organization should foster creativity.
Just by being home, I was able to have an experience where there was some creativity. In NYC, I become limited due to lack of a car and other resources. But being at home, I can bum tremendously off my parents! At home I have access to a car and more money saved up from reduced spending on food. I have wealth and organization simply because I have the necessary resources and I know how to use them. So this allows me, and anyone around me to develop ideas on how we should spend our night. This creates a better night than expected, because everyone is able to come up with something great to contribute to making the night better off.
This is similar to working to develop communities by investment. Putting resources in the existing people’s hands creates opportunities for these native people to shape their own environment in the most workable way that suits their environment. That is a tremendous effort because it gives the power to the people, allowing them to shape their world to be one that they envision.
Finance, Budgets and Risk Assessment Team
Log # 10
By: Radha Byagari
I found my team’s presentation of the newest loan application beneficial and informative. When I proposed making presentations of the loans to classmates in a previous log I thought other teams would appreciate being included in the process. While all of the teams perform tasks and achieve goals that are integral to the success of GLOBE, unfortunately all of the teams don’t get exposure or as much exposure to the actual loans and the different processes that accompany making successful loans.
I was quite surprised by the overwhelming doubts and reservations expressed about giving out “non-entrepreneurial” loans. While entrepreneur is in the name of GLOBE, I personally never thought of GLOBE borrowers or potential borrowers as strictly entrepreneurs. I found your comments at the end of the discussion on entrepreneurship particularly helpful and clarifying. While many of GLOBE’s borrowers have their own businesses, they’re largely not entrepreneurs in the classical sense. Considering the mild dissent during the presentation over whether or not GLOBE should entertain loan applications that aren’t for businesses ventures, I began wondering how many people in class think along the same lines. I’m not sure if some people would call me romantic, but when I was evaluating the loan I didn’t think of it as the beginning of a black hole of random or non-entrepreneurial types of loans. I think the loan for the house if worth seriously considering. I think it borders on close minded to regard entrepreneurship as the only way out of poverty. Speaking from personal knowledge, it was my dad’s education that lifted him out of poverty. I think it’s vital that present and future GLOBE managers keep this in mind the many different methods to breaking the cycle of poverty, including education, good health and fulfillment of certain necessities like shelter. I’m not suggesting that GLOBE change its mission or continuing granting an infinite number of new kinds of loans. But in this case, where risks aren’t as volatile as they would be with giving out a loan for immediate healthcare, I think do warrant serious consideration.
I find the Enterprise Development Team’s work on the healthcare modules and our class discussions about the topic very interesting. When I was answering questions about the loan, I spoke a number of times about the importance of a secure shelter in fostering good health. I think it’s important that we don’t discount these facts. I remember from one of the videos we watched a few weeks back, footage of health seminars in India. Perhaps Enterprise Development can explore partnering with NGOs that already have materials like pictorial representations of different health practices to further their goals on health education.
Marketing and Fundraising Team
Log # 10
By: Raquel Paul
Last class we spoke about the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) in the Philippines. I really enjoyed learning about this program and the type of insurance that is offered. It was particularly interesting because natural disasters continue to be a big issue for countries geographically located in that area. Microinsurance is necessary because it can truly benefit people that have the potential to lose all of their belongings in an instant. It seems ridiculous for people to live in poverty, lose everything they have, and then attempt to replace the little they do have further deepening their level of poverty. I really enjoyed the video you played for us in today’s class. It was a great way to kind of sum up the true reason GLOBE exists. It exists to produce success stories like in the video. This man started at the bottom and was not only able to help himself out of poverty, but also help people who were just like him. He was also able to provide for his child in a way that previously seemed imaginable; it was truly beautiful and moving. This past week was a calmer week for GLOBE because we were on Easter Break but we got right back in action for Earth Day.
I had the privilege of working at Earth Fest for GLOBE. It was a great experience because it was an interesting crowd of people that we spoke to. A lot of the students I spoke with wanted to learn more information about GLOBE because they thought it was a great program based upon the information we provided. Additionally, other vendors were interested in our table as well. Seema and I spoke to a representative from Commission on Voluntary Service and Action. He provided us with a catalogue of volunteer opportunities. It is a relatively large book, which lists volunteer opportunities. He also spoke about how involved he is with other organizations locally and internationally. He specifically helps organize them so that they can improve as a charity or non-profit organization. He really loved the type of work that GLOBE is doing and he took down our information and our GLOBE informational materials. This event was great for GLOBE awareness not really for fundraising because most people assumed that everything was free. Raising money at this event was not our ultimate goal. Providing awareness for GLOBE was something we set out to do and accomplished. Nonetheless, It was a great experience being at Earth Day and interacting with other students that want the world to be a better place through sustainability.
I cannot believe this is my last log as a GLOBE Manager. It seems as though my semester with GLOBE came and went. As I look towards our final presentations and our rehearsals, I can proudly say that I believe my team worked heard and has grown not only as students but also as people. For that, I truly thank you Dr. Sama.
Technology and Communications Team
Log # 10
By: Hannah Wang
My team is in charge of making a proposal for the cell phone plan. I am excited and proud that I was able to contribute an idea that came to fruition through collaboration by the IT and Enterprise and Development teams which do not often work that closely together. In our paper, the IT Team is writing about the utility and the spread of technology and information in several GLOBE countries. This examination of technology is interesting in that, similar to the way that we operate from a social perspective, it is innately robotic. This has been a theme in my studies this semester; the importance of context and society.
Technology exists to help people whether it be to simplify tasks by solving equations or save lives through pacemakers and water filters. Technology is not a scientific field that can exist on its own. Science can seem black and white, but studies do not come without motivation. A more in-depth view of contextualizing sciences was introduced to me in my philosophy course. Context is important because not only do scientific studies come from a place of interest, they are also most likely inherently biased due to the way language is used in processes to make conclusions. An example of this from a cultural standpoint would be, as I have been learning in my French class, the way that we understand history. The history of our nation is reproduced in the public education system. We learn about our great nation’s fight for independence and the emancipation of slaves, but we have had to recover parts of our history that are shameful and must be repaired in these very efforts to recover them.
These cultural studies are important in understanding how gender and class are done in other cultures. If there is a cycle of poverty, why does it exist? If women are more likely to fall into this cycle, why is that?