Each semester, students enrolled in the Global Microloan Program will update this site with their weekly program logs and final student presentations. The Fall 2010 student teams include Information Technology and Communications, Marketing and Fundraising, Accounting and Audit and Finance and Risk Assessment.
Julie Bastos*, Claude Moise, Susan Nordquist, Kelly Yee, Anthony Yiu
Robert Hannigan, Krystyna Lijek, Billy Myers*, Alicia Provenzano, Natasha Toccket
Andrew Bartley*, Bianca Caesar, Vijay Chodha, Hieu Duong, Sophie Jean
Randall Acosta, Benny Cotilletta, Danah Jones*, Eryn Marx, Matthew Prisco, Ryan Young
Log # 1
By Ada Juliana Bastos
I am beyond thankful to be part of this semester’s Fall 2010 GLOBE class. I am convinced that events in my life have led me to be part of a group a people who will not only strive to make a difference but to advocate issues that are ignored in today’s society. Reading Muhammad Yunus’ books have opened my eyes to endless possibilities. As I get more comfortable with the main concepts of Microfinance, I cannot believe more universities in the United States are not part of a simple but powerful class that could make improvements in the world. Although, I cannot blame people for not knowing a life that they would never be exposed to, not here, not in America. I have spent 10 years of my life in a third world country. To be more specific, nine years in Peru and one year in Bolivia. I have seen it all. I have visited friends of family members who lived in tin houses, with tarp roofs and used plastic bags as curtains. Small businesses everywhere, from food stands made out of wooden furniture, to children selling candy on buses, children impersonating acrobats in the middle of traffic jams, to mothers carrying their babies on their backs while selling items that they found in garbage dumps.
The poorest of the poor, are the ones starting their day at 4am and leaving late at night, while the rest of the population has 9 to 5 jobs. On a more personal level, my main motivation is my grandmother, as she introduced me a very simple life while growing up, and she herself was a poor entrepreneur. Growing up she had her own small restaurant at a food market. My mom helped her work the juice bar at 9 years old. Her dream was to send all of her eight children to the capital and study at a university, and so she did. Day by day, she worked towards this dream and thanks to her all of them have a career today. She is one of the very few that managed to get out of poverty.
As I read more statistics, it has been proven that people can beat poverty and if no physical illness is impeding them, then everyone should be entitled to the basic means of life and survival. As part of the IT and Communications team, we will strive to show raw images and information that will show the true essence of poverty. As a team we will “walk in their shoes”, and we will not hide anybody or leave anybody behind. We will extend our relationships with other foundations to raise funds for GLOBE and invite more people to join. I have had dreams of having my own charity, but I have discovered an even greater asset to my dream and that is microlending to the poor. If more young entrepreneurs got together around the world under this very same concept, we would see a different day tomorrow. I’m beyond elated and blessed to start my journey in this class. I feel empowered and I’m not even one of our borrowers who will see their life change before their eyes.
By William Myers
Anxious… curious… scared… Walking into GLOBE, Room 406, as an incoming junior of the College of Professional Studies was one of the most nerve-racking experiences of my life. I was relieved to see that everyone was as nervous as I was. We all knew what we had signed up for and everyone was very excited to get started. In our class we had future accountants, financial advisors, basically the future business leaders of America. Then there was me, the person that knew very little about business but a lot about NGO's, MFI's, and basic economic injustice.
On the first day we were all asked to give a little introduction of ourselves, I then became very intimidated by the extent of everyone's resumes. The time finally came to go up there and give a little presentation on myself. I followed the rules I learned very young from my grandmother, "never let them see you sweat." I went up there explaining that I, the lonely CPS student, will be one of their fellow classmates. I then concluded my speech by basically begging the accounting team to help me with my accounting homework.
We then started talking about MFI's, Dr. Sama has such a passion in her eyes while speaking about the brief history and the people that have been helped thus far by microfinance. Her enthusiasm is that of a little child's on their first day of school excited to see what the next year will present itself with. We then started discussing what each team would be doing and started to shuffle into our own groups. Dr. Sama started to talk about last year's marketing team and was discussing how they were selling bracelets; I have yet to take mine off. The marketing team, which I am a part of, dove right in and started brainstorming products and events. We ran through everything from pens to Pez dispensers, however, we decided on water bottles. Water bottles would be a very good idea and we think that people would pay for a water bottle that is nice and inexpensive. We then realized that with some of the profits, we could end up donating a water pump to one of the provinces we are working with. This would allow us to have a product that correlates to a potential side project.
I am very excited to get to know my classmates on a new personal level. I am excited to see where we can take this program and how we will make our own mark on GLOBE. The fact that we have the power to affect an individual's life is still very much astonishing. I left the room at 10:00 PM not just as William Myers but as William Myers GLOBE member Fall 2010!
By Ben Cotilletta
In the last two weeks, I have acquired so much insight into the world of microfinance. The biggest theme for me has been that GLOBE and microfinance isn’t just about helping the poor but also about creating awareness and a new perspective. As Muhammad Yunus has said and Dr. Sama reiterated, the first step is taking the “profit-making glasses off” and “putting the social business glasses on.” Such a perspective involves seeing the borrowers as individuals with specific needs. This also means being aware of cultural and social differences and working with and not around many of these obstacles to maximize loan repayment and the social wellbeing of borrowers.
I am surprised that microfinance isn’t recognized by the mainstream. With 100 billion families having borrowed from the microcredit industry, most people should know about it. Both my parents were unaware of microfinance before I joined GLOBE. My mother works in private wealth management where the financial industry plays a big role in her career.
I’ve realized that fundraising is important but I believe now we are at a point where creating awareness is more important. When I tell a person about microfinance, they are intrigued and fascinated that such a simple idea could potentially end poverty. Most people want to help in some way. If most Americans knew about microfinance they may instead direct their donations towards something they will see as more “sustainable.” Many are hesitant to donate because they think ‘giving’ is just a vicious cycle, where the only perpetual movement becomes ‘us’ giving and ‘them’ taking. While these people are in need of a major paradigm shift, it may satisfy them to know that an alternative is out there. Obviously, not all Americans think this way but in such a capitalistic society it is commonplace. It seems in these rough economic times, people are more self-absorbed than ever. It is in these times that we should recognize the struggle that others also endure. A struggle that is constant and endless. A struggle so adverse, our struggle would not be a struggle at all but a luxury.
By Andrew Bartley
As early as the 15th and 16th century, there has been a new paradigm of thought in the world of credit. This idea has made waves in our society because it is contrary to the normal lending heuristics of western banks. It suggests that money loaned in small portions to the poor, will not only be paid back in a timely manner but will also be a profitable endeavor. As discussed in the “Economics of Microfinance” by Beatriz Armendariz and Jonathan Morduch, this innovate concept has really grown in popularity within the last 25 years. In the last 10 years alone, we have experienced a 411% growth in the amount of institutions providing these services (655 in 1997 to 3352 in 2007). The reason for the enormous growth, implied by the various texts on the subject, is the low default rate and the high interest rates accompanying these loans. The major driving factor for the increase in the amount of microfinance institutions though, is the idea that you can loan money to help people in need, and still make profit while doing good. These two driving factors are what will propel microfinance into mainstream banking but it is also the clash between the drive to maximize profit and the drive to help people that will possibly decrease the effectiveness of microfinance programs in the future. The contrarian ideas within the mission of a microfinance program, between generating profits(partially so that the fund can enlarge its pursuits) and the idea of helping the recipient, are concepts that our current readings and class discussions suggest clash with one another, creating a barrier in the effectiveness of future microfinance programs.
Some of the tools for recovering loans, mentioned in the Microfinance Handbook by Joanne Ledgerwood, are reminiscent of the drive to create profits rather than helping people. This focus on recovering profits will become a difficult barrier for micro-finance programs to achieve their ultimate goal of decreasing world poverty, and enabling the destitute. Within the handbook are listed ways to recover loans, one of those ways were to require collateral (though the collateral may not equal the loan, its importance to the livelihood of the recipient is good enough), or to even go a step further and threaten imprisonment if the loan is not repaid. When discussing these means of collecting loans with my team, they found nothing wrong with such means of collection. The team failed to see its clash with the mission to help the poor until the Professor, Dr. Sama, brought it to light. The drive to make profit over helping others is so strong, so deep rooted within our psyche that, even after Dr. Sama stated that the mission of the Microfinance program is to help people rather than generating profits, the students (including myself) still inquired as to why the funds were not put into a CD to maximize gains. We had not even considered that we needed the funds liquid to help as many people as possible. “Creating a World without Poverty” by Muhammad Yunus, states that the purpose of this new lending practice is not to generate maximum returns but to aid the areas that governments, NGOs, and financial institutions have neglected, and be self dependent while doing it. It is evident though, that the clash between gaining maximum profits and helping the maximum amount of people will be a barrier in the effectiveness of such programs.
The class discussion in MGT-4310-0, between Dr. Sama and her students, in regards to the clash between profit seekers and those who seek to aid others, illustrated that the profit seeker motive is far more prevalent in the western versions of the micro-finance program rather than their Eastern counterparts. According to Dr. Sama, she and her students have attended various microfinance consortiums all around the world. She illustrated to her class that while many of the Eastern microfinance groups concentrated on how they could help the poor, many of the Western groups concentrated on how they could increase their profits. Though this finding is not surprising since many Eastern cultures do not believe in loaning capital with interest, it is evident that people in the West will have to change their mode of thinking from “How can I help myself?” to “How can I help others?” in order to run an effective microfinance program. Such a task requires the training and guidance that we are receiving in the GLOBE course. Without it, microfinance programs may become less effective in the future as the drive to create profits become increasingly blinding.
As Muhammad Yunus said, “Microcredit is a programme for putting homelessness and destitution in a museum.” If one focuses on profits though, that goal will never be accomplished. In order to achieve this dream, we must change our thought process from the typical western profit seeker to one who is focused on decreasing poverty and increasing opportunities for those who are underprivileged.
Log # 2
By Susan Nordquist
Although I live in America, the land of opportunity, and have not seen anything even close to extreme poverty, I feel as if I am starting to understand the lives that our borrowers live. Sometimes it is hard to step outside of your own culture to understand somebody else’s. My favorite reading from this week was from the Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus. I read in-depth stories about both a borrower and a banker. Both struggle in different ways to make the Grameen Bank transactions possible, but their relentless will to help themselves or help others creates a huge success for the program. I found the story of the banker especially touching. Nurjahan is from a middle class family and holds a Masters Degree. Her strong motivation to help people allowed her to go behind her mother and her family’s back and work at Grameen. Her family would not understand the “field work” involved with Nurjahan’s job and would expect a person of her education, especially a woman, to work in an office behind a desk (if working at all). She understands that her job would create criticism so for a long while she lied about how she went about doing business with Grameen. It is expected for a person in the position of a borrower – with no other options – to not look back once they receive a loan and preserver until they were successful. It is another story, however, for an educated woman from a middle class family to go through the struggle of helping the poor with such determination.
Reading about these stories makes me wonder more and more about how much progress we can make from so far away. Yes, it is great that we are able to supply funds to people who need it, but at the same time don’t these people also require the human attention and interaction to know that they can succeed as a business owner? I believe that part of the progress needs to be a social/cultural change in how women are treated. It’s a fine line between respecting another’s culture yet attempting to change it for what you think is best.
As for the technology team – I am a little worried that we don’t have the necessary expertise to make a significant impact on the program. We have some amazing ideas but, most of them are relayed to the marketing team. However, I am happy to know that we can at least set up a basic technology structure for the future classes to work with.
Log # 2
By Rob Hannigan
Up until this point in class I thought the marketing team and I had a great grasp on our plans for this semester whether it is events, promotional items or fundraising. However, as I have noticed in this type of environment there are never any guarantees. We have been somewhat forced to shift our entire plan due to some news that our alumni Manhattan fundraiser may be near impossible to schedule. A number of variables have been thrown our way and I believe we can right the ship through altering plans to best suit what we can achieve and keeping an eye on the time and resources we have available.
At this point in the semester it is becoming clear the gravity of our tasks and the difficulty of achieving what we need in order to be successful. However, unlike any other class GLOBE contains another factor that looms due to the reality of the situation, this situation creates a new type of feeling a hybrid sense of urgency and sense of self realization. In our classes and in our lives we are bogged down with deadlines, expectations and hardships that complicate our life, however anyone who takes this course takes on a new appreciation for what those deadlines and hardships mean to those in an impoverished country. Missing a homework assignment or failing a test pales in comparison with their hardships to say the least. The harsh reality is that a missed “deadline” or failed “expectation” in those regions could very well result in death or increased risk of disease. The realization kicks in that the problems in our lives are minute in comparison and that creates a wild sense of urgency to get into this program and push it as far as it can go. Through our readings and the stories from our lenders we grasp that those women who still have husbands alive or not there is still great need to generate more income, whether fully supporting themselves or living off their husbands meager mining income there is a need to create more opportunities. That is why women and microfinance go hand in hand and women are a crucial stepping stone of eradicating poverty in these countries. One of the better documented characteristics of our studies show that women are more likely to make smarter decisions with the increased capital and whether in the microfinance and the empowerment of women article or others we have read it states that “access to savings and credit facilities and women’s decision about what is being done with savings and credit strengthens women’s say in economic decisions of the household. This enables women to increase expenditure on the well-being of themselves and their children. This is the main concern in the poverty alleviation paradigm. Women’s control over decision-making is also seen as benefitting men through preventing leakage of household income to unproductive and harmful.”
Economic booms have been triggered through employment and empowerment of the female race, the United States of America would not be the same country it is today without the joint power and mind that women have since brought to the table. Through microfinance and women’s empowerment hopefully it will push to the point where both men and women in those countries are responsibly borrowing money and reimbursing eventually leading to a world with impressive economies where every single person’s main “deadline” or “expectation” does not decide the lives of loved ones.
Log # 2
By Ryan Young
As the second week of GLOBE started, I found myself backed up against the wall with loan papers and stories of sorrow from our overseas partners. We as the finance group have made a great leap into this world of microfinance by assigning our first loan to women in Kenya. Margaret Wanjiru Kamau is a 42-year-old woman residing in Dogoretti, Kenya. She has a requested a loan of $100 (7900ksh). Her annual income is $300 (24000ksh). She believes this loan will enable her to purchase the resources she needs to do so. She hopes that this business will improve living conditions and provide her with enough money to buy a plot of land for retirement. She also wants to fund her cousin’s son’s education. A major topic discussed in Yunus’ Creating a World Without Poverty was the impact analysis of microfinance, being able to determine if intervention has had the desired outcome. Many of the topics that allow microfinance to happen, stem from the idea of competition and more of the criticized free market principles.
Once characterized as Reaganomics, the trickle down effect determined social improvements within these communities. As many vicious cycles have plagued India with inflation and enslavement by moneylenders, it is a privilege to be respected enough to have the choice to apply for a loan. I did not realize the many factors and small details that all need to be considered when determining the effects of microfinance. We as a team learned that the effect our loan is having on the individual, no matter how small the report back may be, would be extremely gratifying. As explained in Creating a World Without Poverty, the vicious cycle of oppression was reminiscent of the near enslavement of poor Bangladeshis by moneylenders that Yunus discovered in Jobra when he founded Grameen Bank. The social and psychological effect that Yunus had on his countrymen was profound. So profound to the effect of developing the bank to led to a total of 5.7 million people.
Reflecting on the tragedies of our loan applicants is one thing but taking action to change their life is what Muhammad Yunus would describe as a visionary. I believe that the loans we approve will sustain the livelihood of the entrepreneur’s life but also stir a responsibility to those around her to do the same. The Microfinance Handbook has allowed me do discover more about the under workings of the many MFI’s (Microfinance Institutions). Written by the World Bank, I feel as if the book explains the basis of understanding but does not give me a personal view of the effect of microloans. On the surface, Microfinance seems straight forward with a review of the need of the client and then the business plan, you can think that it will generate profits and the borrower will fully repay the loan with the added interest. But what you don’t understand is that there are many factors that effect micro lending in foreign countries that have governmental corruption that cannot allow a flow of capital to directly affect the needs of the borrower. Placed under pressure, my team and I have done research this week of the social and political climate our borrowers live in and are discussing based on industry which loans would be more risk averse.
Log # 2
By Hieu Duong
For the last few weeks, our team has been working on a few tasks. First, we want to have an online budget request form which can be used by other teams to request funds. Basically, the form will be available online, so whenever a team needs funding, they go online, fill out the form and then click submit. The form then will be sent to us and kept in a folder. The reason why we want to do this is not only because we want to keep track on how much money we spend so we will not use more than 5% of the total fund, we also want to have an official form, so other teams don’t need to email back and forth. The IT team is working on this task with us.
Secondly, we want to make the budget report into a real professional one. From the files which Dr. Sama sent us, we reconciled the data. Our first inflow cash was added, and we already have bank reconciliation. We are going to work on it and hopefully, in the next few weeks, we will have a balance sheet. Third, we want to know about other teams’ goals so we can use it to do internal auditing at the end of this semester.
This week, I especially liked the reading assignment, How to Change the World. The story is about James P. Grant who used to be head of Unicef. Grant spent his whole 15 years at Unicef to fight for the health of children. He made the impossible become possible. I guess you would be surprised to know that his orchestrated global health changes saved the life of at least 25 million children. He fought until his very last minute. The week before his death, Grant was still lobbying to get the U.S government to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It’s such an inspirational story for me.
For this week, I would like to share a quite interesting quotation which I learned from the last lecture.
"Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Give a woman microcredit, she, her husband, her children and her extended family will eat for a lifetime." – Bono
That’s it for now.
See you next week.
Log # 3
By Kelly Yee
Instead of a formal lecture, past students from previous semesters of GLOBE came in and offered insight on what to do and to give suggestions for our projects. GLOBE GAP, the graduate students who are interested in working with GLOBE, also came in to introduce themselves and to offer their assistance. A member of the Steering Committee was also present for the last class. It was good to interact with those who are involved with GLOBE on another level. Knowing that so many people support and truly believe in what we do adds a greater sense of responsibility. We have to do this right, not only for those who are taking out loans, but also for all the people who support us. Many of the things that we want to do will not be feasible without extra hands. There are only around twenty-five students in the class and we meet once a week. Having the graduate students offer their time and expertise takes away some of the pressure. Past students that came in were also very helpful, in that they had suggestions on how to improve our objectives and how to go about achieving them.
As for our group, we got a better understanding of what everyone has to do. Each person is in charge of a different aspect of our whole goal. We want to incorporate uplifting music from Africa or any other nation that talks about poverty into our final video project. Everyone is to look for songs and artists that do such work. If it is possible, we would like to ask them to write something on our blog. This will bring in wider exposure and publicity for GLOBE. We are in the process of trying to add more people into the list of those who are able to write on our blog. Work was divided in a fashion where no one person is doing more or less than the whole group. This type of teamwork is different in comparison to the other group projects that I have to do for my other classes. People are so invested in this “project” since this “project” is our entire course material. Everyone is putting in a lot of effort and time in order to meet all the objectives that we have set up for ourselves.
Log # 3
By Alicia Provenzano
Last class we were graced with the presence of past GLOBE managers and this year’s GLOBE GAP members. Members from past marketing, accounting, finance, and technology groups spoke with us about their experiences. It was good to hear advice from people who were once where we are today. They are the people who have made GLOBE what it is now. Every single one of them was so passionate about GLOBE and one another. They created long-term relationships from their experience. The past GLOBE managers answered many questions for our team. They clarified issues we were facing and told us what to do and what not to do in the future. It is nice to see that there are people looking out for us and that are there to help us if need be. This brings into perceptive the reason for GLOBE and microfinance programs around the world. MFIs are put in place to help people overcome obstacles and fears they may have. The past GLOBE managers and this year’s GLOBE GAP members have done this for us. By the end of last week’s class, the marketing team realized what we want to do and how we are going to set out to do it.
A few members of the marketing team met with Alumni Relations to discuss our event. After meeting and discussing what is possible due to time constraints, we have completely changed our event path. In our minds, this is a wonderful thing. We now know what we are going to do and when we are going to do it. We only have to work on creating an audience, which is a big weight off of the marketing team. We are planning small things that will come together to make a difference. This relates to the mission of microfinance. How To Change The World relates first hand to what we are doing. Individual people come together to make a difference in the world. Many believe that one person cannot change anything, but like GLOBE, working together and planning a change can help greatly.
Log # 3
By Danah Jones
This past week has shown what a challenging task it is to approve loan applications. The finance and risk assessment team is analyzing thirty-four applications from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and ultimately this group will be narrowed down to five or six applicants. Other members of the finance and risk assessment team have complied individual lists of about ten applicants which will be brought together to be narrowed down further. The large need shown by these applicants is consistent with statistics around that world that show only a minuscule fraction of the world’s poor being aided by microfinance.
To allow for less risk, the team has decided to pick each applicant from differing industries. The Congo has lush fertile land ideal for farming. The thirty four loans presented five different business types; farming or breeding of cattle, petty trade, soap making, a few seamstresses, and a bakery. Approving loans from different industries diversifies the risk in giving out these types of loans. If one industry is greatly affected by some catastrophic event, applicants in that field of business cannot prosper and will have difficulty repaying the loan. If all approved applicants are participating in one field of business, the one event will prove to be a catastrophic loss. Having loan applicants in differing industries will avoid adverse selection and if one industry is not doing as well that gives room for another industry to be successful. I was pleased to see some applicants have borrowed loans in the past to start their business. This presents stability in that they know how to save and the terms of agreement with a loan. These applications with prior experience are less likely to default. However, the majority of loan applications will not be approved this semester, while these individuals in the Democratic Republic of Congo continue to be in need.
Moving forward into the upcoming weeks, the group is looking to create a repayment schedule and criteria for loan approval. The process for loan approval can be emotional because you see how in dire need these individuals are. While their situations are unfortunate we must think logically and take all risks into account and discuss how successful the applicant will be with their business. This week, loans should be approved for five or six applicants. The class is becoming more than just learning the theory of microfinance but, is microfinance put into action.
Log # 3
By Sophie Jean
GLOBE is definitely picking up speed! Classes are lively and the students are active in making sure that GLOBE runs smoothly. In class, we had the chance to meet with our graduate affiliates and previous GLOBE members. I was excited to learn of our new graduate division. It is already week 4 and I cannot imagine leaving the GLOBE family behind. The stories that we have seen in class and read in our weekly readings have touched my heart. The impact of a microloan in one single poverty stricken area, so big as to not only aid a community economically, but to also positively change the lives of individuals socially is something I am proud to be a part of. I would love to be a member of GAP as a graduate student and am very happy that GLOBE is attracting many compassionate and intelligent young minds. The three women representing GAP are of much help to us. They are very active and are happy to provide help to our undergraduate class at any time.
It was also nice meeting with John from the Fall 2009 accounting team. He was very insightful and answered many questions we had for the previous teams. Hopefully, we can try to bridge the gap between the previous and current members of the GLOBE accounting teams. Already, we have plans to combine the rules and regulations of the previous teams with the ones we have now and display it online for all of the future accounting team members to use as a guide. We are very excited about implementing this new approach of communication and will be discussing this with the IT team.
The readings are extremely inspirational and thought provoking. For our weekly readings, we had to take a look at Chapter 10 of “Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty” by Muhammad Yunus. In this chapter, Muhammad Yunus discusses his advances to expanding microloans to the Americas, Northern Europe, Canada, and the UK. Although, the GDP of these countries is doing well, have we taken a step back to look at the concrete numbers of individuals affected by poverty instead of how much we make as a country? While many in the US, Europe, and England loved Yunus’ work with the Grameen Foundation, they were quick to turn it down in their own countries. There were many skeptics. Eventually, he was given the opportunity to implement his ideas in rural and urban areas of the US and he proved to be successful, but it was not without a fight. Americans were reluctant to start businesses because we are not familiar with entrepreneurship and due to the many restrictions set out by welfare laws. According to his book, less than 10% of Americans are entrepreneurs, so the idea was not very encouraging, but he pushed through and found that the people were very creative in their ideas for making money. Initially, I believed that micro-lending in the US would not work if we tried it, but now I have hope that if we push through, it can potentially cure some of our major social problems in poverty stricken areas.
Log # 4
By Claude Moise
I remember my first class like it was last week and here we are already on Week 6, basically at the half way mark. This week we had to present our “Midterm Progress Report”. Since we have implemented the idea of doing weekly progress reports for this semester already, we were not really worried about this one. We already had logged all our goals, obstacles, and accomplishments so far. What was really important to us was making our first video as the IT team. I know that since we are the IT team, our video has to be amazing. We wanted something that would really appeal to the viewer’s hearts while explaining to them what we as GLOBE were and what we did. We made sure we got pictures that anyone would sympathize with and music that would catch anyone’s ears. We also were worried about making sure that the video was not too long. I have often heard this generation and time described as the “A.D.D.” generation because everyone seems to have a short attention span. So we wanted to make sure that the video was short but, still to the point.
The reading this week discussed the importance of keeping information stored and up to date. This stood out to me because all throughout the semester we have discussed ways of keeping information together and making it accessible for future classes. There has always been a minor issue of passing down work from semester to semester and even communication between the four teams. Our first idea for creating an information system was the Skydrive but, unfortunately we had problems with that. However, we were lucky enough to learn about Wiggio, which I believe most groups if not all are already beginning to set up and use. We do a lot of work individually in addition to as a class, so a lot of information is produced. It is important that we all have a way of sharing and accessing it with each other because lack of communication between groups can become a major issue.
Finally, last week we were honored with a visit from someone who was doing what we were doing (giving out microloans to those in need). Father Gilbert Otieno Omolo from Kenya spoke to us about his own experience doing microfinance with his church and members of his community. He told us that he knew little about microfinance before starting his microloan project and from what he shared with us, it seemed that he was somewhat successful. It’s inspiring to know that it does not take advanced knowledge or expertise to be able to help people. All it takes is the initiative and the willingness to make a serious effort.
Log # 4
By Natasha Toccket
Going into our fifth week of GLOBE, I was extremely stressed. We’d left with so many things to think about and so much on our plates from the previous week. However, on Tuesday before class, we went to a meeting with the head of Alumni Relations as well as the Director of Fundraising Campaigns at St. John’s.
The meeting started with them talking to us about how we could go about contacting alumni. We learned that the person who contacts alumni for the majority of St. John’s events, Elisa, holds monthly Happy Hours. This month, the Tobin College of Business Alumni Association is hosting a happy hour through St. John’s Alumni Relations. Elisa told us that we could piggy-back on this opportunity! This was great for the Marketing team to hear. We had been so discouraged from the last class, that we didn’t know where to begin. Now, we finally had an event that we could get started on. Elisa told us that the last happy hour brought in 53 alumni. We thought this was amazing. If we could really catch the attention of about 50 alumni this could be great, not only for fundraising, but for creating awareness about GLOBE and micro-lending in general.
After we spoke about the Happy Hour, Scott, Direct of Fundraising Campaigns at St. John’s, gave us all of his valuable ideas. He told us that he was starting a phone log to alumni to make them aware of things going on at St. John’s and on-campus. There are 12 seats for calling; 3 of which he wanted to open to organizations and programs on St. John’s campus. He wants us to occupy one of those seats. However, this will not be available for GLOBE to do until next semester. So, as the Fall Marketing Team we must lay the groundwork for future GLOBE members.
Scott wants us to get started right away. We are going to start making letters to send out to alumni to get them interested in the program. We will create scripts for when we are able to actually begin to call alumni. He wants us to think about what we want our target audience to be (alumni, students, parents, etc.).
It was great to know that we finally had concrete ideas to get started on. Thursday, the Alumni Happy Hour was coming around the corner quickly and our team was very excited. When the day actually came I was full of different emotions. I was excited to finally get started on spreading the word about GLOBE. I was also nervous about what kind of feedback we would get and if people would be interested or not.
At first we were all timid. We didn’t want to interrupt conversations or the good times people were having, basically to give them a sales pitch. But soon enough alumni started coming up to us. The conversations started flowing; and I was saying everything I knew about micro-lending and GLOBE. Most of the people we spoke to were incredibly interested in what we were doing. We received cards from numerous alumni that wanted to learn more about the program. We sold some of our raffle tickets and we even received a couple of donations.
The Happy Hour was a great first event for the marketing team. I really feel as if we’re starting to spread the word about GLOBE beyond St. John’s Campus. I think it’s really exciting that we have contacts to keep updated on the program. We also have some more opportunities through the alumni we met to raise more awareness and co-host fundraisers. I’m pleased to have such prosperous alumni to keep in touch with! I’m also eager for our final event which will now be the final presentations at the end of the semester (with invitations sent to professors and alumni).
Log # 4
By Matthew Prisco
These have been a busy two weeks for the Finance and Risk Assessment Team. After reviewing the 34 loans from the Congo we have decided on the final 5. To do this we all chose our top ten individually. Then we took the top ten choices from that and decided to create diversity within our choices. We have chosen two from agriculture, two from trade, and one baker. This should provide us with some solid borrowers in different industries within the Congo. We are going to issue these loans with a repayment plan that that the Sisters can follow in collecting the loan payments. If these loans work out well, then future Finance teams will have a base of loans to approve from our remaining top choices from the Congo.
Creating our presentation for the Midterm Progress Report was a great chance for our team to become closer. It also allowed us to analyze what we have done so far this semester and where we want to be. I am happy to say that we are on track to complete all of our goals and already have some of them completed just halfway through the semester. After viewing everyone’s presentations tonight, I can see that all the teams are doing great things. The Marketing team is working extraordinarily hard to get the GLOBE name out there and they seem to be immensely successful. The Accounting team has put together a budget form which looks excellent and very professional. Finally, the IT team has done an absolutely amazing job with their video in its preliminary stages. The video looks as though it is almost complete yet they have many more ideas to add to it. I for one cannot wait to see it on December 7th!
My movement for establishing a declining interest rate is progressing nicely. I now have a basis for a PowerPoint presentation that I am going to put together for the Steering Committee. The arguments for the interest rate change are; it will cost the borrowers less, it has a built in early payment reward system, it will teach the borrowers the way loans work in the real world, and it will allow us to issue more loans therefore receive more profits and give back to their communities. I hope that I get the chance to present this but if not, someone else from the Finance team definitely will. This move would not only make sense to GLOBE but also would be very advantageous to the borrowers. Ideally we will be able to institute this change by the end of the semester so the next class can take full advantage of it.
Log # 4
By Bianca Caesar
During the last two weeks, the Accounting team has been working on achieving the goals we have made at the beginning of the semester. My task this week was to refine the quantitative analysis question to make them simpler for the borrowers to understand. My other group members have been working on creating Income Statement, Balance Street, Trial Balances, and journal entries. It was important for us to make journal entries this week because the Accounting team needed a way to track all transaction regarding incoming and outgoing money. Creating journal entries would be the best way to track every transaction and also have in detail what the transactions are. This will help the future accounting teams when they take over our records for next semester. It would also be easier for the future Accounting team to track our net balance. We also created a budget form so that the other teams’ can request money to fund their activities.
The challenges that we are facing this week is the communication between our team and the Finance team. Some of these challenges we have are, what loans were approved by the Finance team and how much are the loans that they gave out. We also have problems of figuring out when the loan applicants are going to start repaying their loans and how much we can expect from these applicants in accounts receivable. We also collected each team’s objective so that we can begin the auditing processes. At the end of the semester we will audit each team to find out if each of them achieved each of their objectives. This week, the Accounting team plans on communicating with the Finance team more to overcome the challenges that we have had over the two weeks.
Log # 5
By Anthony Yiu
Today in class, we had a great set of midterm presentations. The Finance team gave thorough explanations of the loans that they have approved and analyzed. The Marketing team presented about their planned events and promotional product for the semester. I think the water bottle with GLOBE written on it is a pretty good idea. They did a great job on planning, networking, and making all the events possible. I am looking forward to whatever comes next. Last but not least, the Accounting team showed us the amount of money that we have at the moment and introduced an online form that they have been working on. I am impressed by their online budget form because it will make things easier to do for all of the teams.
As for our presentation, we got good feedback on a video that we made and by the time this log is read, we would have already finished adding and fixing several things according to the recommendations that we got. On Tuesday, we are going to sell cookies and cakes and a few members from our team made cupcakes. We had a good time doing everything. In addition to the bake sale, we will walk around campus in our GLOBE superhero capes with bags of candy. ‘Treat for Change’ is our theme for this event, and we will trade candy for pocket change, to make a change for borrowers through the GLOBE programs. I think that this is a brilliant idea and GLOBE GAP did a great job on the capes- they are wonderful!
We have to create profiles for new borrowers on our website and we will start working on this soon. More than likely, we will begin to do it after the upcoming event since we are busy preparing various things to make the day a success. We hope to be able to spread the message of GLOBE and create awareness for this program through the “Treat for Change” event.
Log # 5
By Krystyna Lijek
Watching all the teams display the work they have done so far this semester, as well as what they plan to do in the coming weeks, was truly an exciting experience! With 5 to 6 loans approved by the Finance team and many more to look at and garnish the list with, I think I can say we are all excited.
Personally, on the marketing level, we are completely astonished by the success and the welcoming that was bestowed upon us at the Young Alumni/TCB Alumni Happy Hour! At first… we stood there five awkward students, being preyed upon by older eyes, “who were these uncomfortable people, why are they at our event?” Soon, the room shed light upon us, and we smiled, shook hands, and spread the word. People were interested in every aspect of the program from GLOBE being at St. John’s, to the borrowers of the money that has already been lent.
At the end of the event, the GLOBE team was given time to speak and Billy Meyers stepped in to give an explanation of what GLOBE is and what our mission is.
As the hours of the event elapsed, the GLOBE Marketing Team stayed beyond the hours to speak with former St. John’s students. Engaging in active conversations about school, the world, life at St. John’s and most importantly GLOBE.
The highlight of the event was receiving a $50 donation from Michael Wolfe, whom I spoke with as well as other team members for quite some time that evening. He donated more than just money, he gave us wisdom on life, and how to network, pretty much summed up how his St. John’s experience, his transition to the work place, and told us where he is now. He graduated a mere 7 years ago and is now the VP of a Finance company. He found it particularly interesting how hands-on GLOBE is, and that students are gaining real life experience in the classroom. He shared that he wished a program like GLOBE existed when he attended the university.
The positive vibe we felt from the Happy Hour truly has made me realize the potential GLOBE has. Engaging with 40 to 50 people could, next time become engaging with 100-200 people, and the number of alum that we can reach may double and triple as the program grows.
At a ripe almost two years old, GLOBE has already made an impact on 11 lives abroad, as well as 4 classrooms worth of students, in addition to anyone they have told. I can’t imagine the number of people the GLOBE class will be able to reach in 2020. I hope to stay connected with the GLOBE program and watch it grow, as well as hear about its continued success for years to come.
Log # 5
By Randall Acosta
As we approved the last set of Congo loans and begin to sift through the new Kenya applications, the first Fall Semester GLOBE event went underway. Increasing awareness of GLOBE as well as gaining contributions for our cause was the goal of the day. The Marketing team had each member sport a cape with a picture of a borrower who we have been able to help. Not only being a great conversation starter, the cape also fit into theme of “3rd World Heroes” but we aren’t the heroes- the heroes are our clients who have chosen to change their lives for the better. We also went around campus with personally decorated GLOBE bags and offered a “trick or treat” of sorts to faculty and students. The idea was to give treats such as candy and in turn receive loose change that would directly go to the people that need it most. I had been working at my internship on campus and received generous donations for the “Treat for Change” campaign and overall was able to garner over 4 times then what I had expected.
At the same time we had set up a booth in Marillac cafeteria that sold an assortment of food and baked goods to help us continue our services with our borrowers. It was a very successful day with the help of GLOBE GAP members, the graduate students that help in achieving some of the goals of GLOBE. They also created the capes and helped with the “Treat for Change” campaign. Students as well as faculty came by the booth and we informed them of our cause and how we planned to help alleviate poverty. Everyone did their part and with our combined efforts, I really believe we helped to advance GLOBE’s presence on campus while also receiving donations for the program.
Log # 5
By Vijay Chodha
There are a couple of issues that I have begun to notice within the concept of Microfinance, as I have thought about it more and more. One of the issues I have realized in relation to Microfinance is what seems to me, to be extremely high interest rates attached to many of these loans. What was meant to be a certain new technique to charity is becoming a very strong business. It seems that in Microfinance an interest rate of 5 to 10 percent is on the low side, and can get as high as triple that rate. Many people are pressured to pay double the principle which is 100 percent interest in a very short period. I am relieved we do not put so much pressure on our borrowers by holding a very reasonable rate and giving them a longer period of time to pay back a loan. We give them every opportunity to succeed by extensions and hopefully once successful they grow their business enough to keep taking out these loans but hopefully that can occur in the near future. Microfinance and social business will be the largest revolution within the next 25 years by his prediction. Not only will it create economic stabilization it will bring people out of poverty in numbers never experienced before.
I have also started working on audits of many of the teams, from our own, Accounting to the Marketing team. I need to write down all the expenses and revenue teams are bringing in to give them and Dr. Sama an overview of our financial statements. What will help us in keeping track of future expenses from each team is a new program that will give teams a way to contact the Accounting team for funds for upcoming projects while allowing the Accounting team to keep track of the funds.
We had a very successful bake sale today and “Treat for Change” which helped us raise money for future loans we want to give out. All the members of each team participated in this fundraiser by either baking goods or asking fellow students to donate to this worthy cause in exchange for some candy. I believe that little by little, we are making a difference one penny at a time also one loan at a time. We received a lot of help from GLOBE GAP, which helped organize this event with the Marketing team. Also, we could tell that we had made an impact on campus because many students were walking around with candy as well as were talking about microfinance, which shows GLOBE is getting the attention it fairly deserves. I am excited to be presenting to the class about the upcoming funds and the reformed balance sheet that we have created to show that hard work can be shown by the funds they have obtained. This creates a great sense of team work, which I believe is how many things are accomplished in this day and age. It is good to be there for someone, and in helping someone, we are contributing to the group as a whole.
Log # 6
By Kelly Yee
This past week we had a major event, our bake sale and Treat for Change. Because Halloween was only a few days away from the bake sale, it was focused around a Halloween theme. GLOBE GAP made capes for everyone in the class with a picture of one of our borrowers, with the title “The True Superheroes.” We also had trick-or-treat bags where we exchanged candy for change. I thought that was a very clever way to bring awareness, in the midst of all the joyful excitement that accompanies this holiday. The class was able to raise a lot of money and that is a huge success, considering the fact that it was an event that only happened for a few hours. It is applying what we had learned in other classes to real life. Although I was not able to be there for the entire event, my group had a baking and decorating party where we were able to get a little of everything done in preparation for Treat for Change.
The last class discussion was on social entrepreneurship. One way to sustainably make a change in the world is to have a company that makes it its’ business to help others. Their focus is on helping others but in a way where they will be making revenues. That revenue can then be reinvested back into their business so they will not have to depend on donations in order to keep their organization running. Although doing good work is important, one aspect that many people tend to overlook is the financial aspect of a not- for- profit organization. This is where social entrepreneurs come in. There are certain things that the government cannot do (due to certain restrictions) that individual organization can, however, there are still some concerns and controversies that are attached to the idea of social entrepreneurship. Hopefully, what we are doing in GLOBE will change some of those stigmas.
When managing a MFI, the finances are just as important as the actions of those out in the field. Accountants and the work that they do with the financial statements will spell the beginnings of new ventures or an end to the entire organization. Our Finance and Accounting teams have done a lot this semester. The Accounting team has reorganized the information and is trying to keep our spending down to a minimum. They have come up with new forms that will help the borrowers and us to better understand loan terms and repayments. It will also help the borrowers keep better records of what they are spending. The Finance team is looking at all of the loan applications and deciding on whom to give loans to.
GLOBE consists of several teams and it is not complete without any one team missing. Each person has to put in their share to make this program run properly. Everyone is in a different team but we are all working hard for one goal, trying to help those who are having a hard time just living day to day. We are in this together.
Log # 6
By Robert Hannigan
Today was the week that the bottles have finally arrived and they look excellent. The coloring and the sleek design of the logo look better than I had hoped and I am very excited to get out and sell them. Also this week we have gotten into the flyer game, creating flyers for the raffle, water bottles and special small solicivitations that will be available at the alumni events from now on thanks to Scott and Elisa from Alumni Relations.
It was also an exciting week because we had special guest speakers from CDM. Geoff Baldwin and Yodit Sheido were kind enough to come in and share their work with us in hopes that we both, as social organizations, could cooperate in our mutual efforts to better the world. The company CDM works closely with Water for People in order to help provide engineering and technological projects to foster a world with cleaner water, one community at a time. The concept of providing water pumps for a community is a very interesting practice that requires a large amount of capital donation and also a large community effort to maintain the water system. Geoff mentioned while speaking his hopes that the microfinance principals we install in our borrowers would possible create a system that caters to the water systems as well.
Perhaps the most interesting part to me was the possibility that we could create with a partnership with a company of their stature. While we clearly do not have the ability to fund these massive and expensive projects, we could provide the groundwork for the entrepreneurial system of a community water system and also create new small jobs around said water system through microloans. With more businesses around the system that require less training than the system itself it could be a huge boost to the area. It also intrigued me as to how CDM and Water for People admitted they are beginning to brainstorm for further down the road when it is expected that the majority of the world will be more urban than rural. These ideas represent an entirely new outlook on what is done in microfinance and brings with it a very exciting new frontier. I am very interested in continuing my research on what may be done down the road for urban microfinance, especially those that could be coupled with engineering projects.
Log # 6
By Danah Jones
This week’s reading in The Economics of Microfinance Beatriz Armendariz and Jonathan Morduch discussed effective management of microfinance institutions and the loans they disburse. Businesses in developed countries are concerned with reaping profit but how does that affect our cause to reduce global poverty. I found it interesting because this program must effectively give out loans to gain a successful return. The return in the GLOBE program is not seen in profits but rather repayment of the loan which can then be used to give to another borrower in the same community. Effective management of these loans through the Finance and Risk Assessment Team is imperative to the continuation of this program.
The text references Corposol in Columbia which had great success from 1988 to 1996. High growth was achieved for Corposol through a diverse loan portfolio and an increase in clientele. With a large customer base Corposol employees received bonuses and gave to “less poor” borrowers which would be able to repay the loan. As a working society we like to see rewards for our efforts. Employees maximized their own self interest above the fundamentals of the microfinance industry they were working in. The additional bonuses given to a corporate employee could have been used to fund additional loans to those in need. This made me wonder about the goals of microfinance that Muhammad Yunus founded for the industry; we aim to give to the poorest of the poor for them to learn to work their way out of poverty. Microfinance aims to create systemic change for the population living in poverty which will eventually allow them to participate in the economy with greater resources thus ending poverty all together. Higher management is concerned with how their business may look on record giving out many loans with high dollar amounts without addressing the quality of the loan and their applicants. The Finance and Risk Assessment Team must manage the loan applications by analyzing who would be our most successful borrowers, their strengths and weaknesses and how does that bring success to the GLOBE program and the community as a whole. The Fall 2010 class has received the most loan applications since the inception of the GLOBE program. While we increase the amount of loan borrowers benefiting from the program and diversify our portfolio we cannot stray from the goals the class has instilled in each of its members. Students volunteer to be a part of a growing movement for change in our society. The reward for my efforts is knowing that GLOBE could someone could overcome poverty in their community through microlending.
Effective management of funding is a concern for all businesses; an operation that lacks proper management will fail and in the case of Corposol lead to its insolvency in 1996. Management of funds is something I should apply to my daily transactions. I am beginning to take a second look at where I spend money and how that could be put to better use. We take for granted that we know a constant money source will be coming in. Proper management will allow me to regularly budget my expenses and save much like our borrowers do. When the opportunity presents itself our borrowers use the loan funds to invest in their business and I can lead through their examples doing the same with my resources.
Log # 6
By Sophie Jean
Week 7 is definitely a fun week. On Tuesday, October 26th GLOBE had a bake sale and it was a huge success. I remember the day before, my team, the Accounting team and the Marketing team linked up to bake the most beautiful cupcakes in the world, of course this is a biased opinion. We were definitely proud of our baking skills! We wanted to make sure that our table looked the best, so we could attract as many potential donors and spring 2011 potential recruits.
Finally, on Tuesday, the members of GLOBE blew current student and faculty members away with our wonderful treats and wealth of knowledge about our program. I was so happy to see how interested many people were. We shocked many of them with our capes. I could still remember some of the perplexed faces. If you are wondering what I mean by capes, we literally walked around with capes as if we were superheroes and that was pretty much the point. Our capes drew attention to us and marketed GLOBE more than we had to take the initiative to approach people to raise awareness. They were so intrigued that they approached us. Our table looked fantastic and we were able to raise a lot of money. Many of my classmates walked around campus during the bake sale with bags of candy. We went around campus saying “Change for a Treat!” Students and faculty would give us any amount of change they had for a few pieces of candy and that was also a huge success.
Now, getting back to business...The Accounting team is doing very well. It is a bit of a slow period for us right about now, because it seems that we have all that we need. All we have to do now is create a statement of cash flows, set up regulations and continue to update our financial statements. We have already updated our sheets and created an adjusted trial balance to update the amount of cash that we have from our donation revenues, fundraising revenues (bake sale), and current expenses (bake sale). I’m excited to start entering in a few loan payables once we get final approval for the new loans that should be distributed later on this semester. The Accounting team is definitely on schedule and running full force, but we do have a bit of down time right now.
For next week class we have to read about a few impact ratios in terms of borrowers. I found them quite interesting. There is a ratio to calculate the percentage rate in which an NGO should expect back from a borrower. This is pretty much a ratio to calculate the default rate on loans. I thought it would be pretty cool to implement this method, but we would need to collect payments on a monthly basis opposed to the large lump sum we expect at the maturity of the loan. I would love to see how that would play out if we did implement the analyzing of ratios derived from the financial statements. I am sure this would help GLOBE last for many years to come.
All in all, this was a great week. I had fun with my GLOBE family while making sure that the Accounting Team had everything in order and we did a great job as a team. GLOBE is a great place to gain hand on experience while helping those in need. A great opportunity to build one’s character, if I might add! I’m sure week 8 will also be an awesome week. I can’t believe time is passing so fast.
Log # 7
By Julie Bastos
The IT had a meeting with our GLOBE graduate assistant to come up with a list of updates needed on our main website. We formed a laundry list of a few things that need to get done by the end of the semester. The main page seems to have some script overlapping with logos and we have complied a list of our recommendations with the St. John’s IT department to help update these changes. Sometimes I daydream of the day that GLOBE has expanded throughout the Tri-State area. We would not have to worry about depending on other sources but, only ourselves. It seems like work would get accomplished much faster.
I had recent affirmation that I irrevocably want to work for a social foundation. GLOBE has been a major influence but on Friday I interviewed with Project Enterprise. It took three trains to get there from my apartment but when I got there it was all worth it. I doubted how microfinance would work in a developed country but I was proved wrong when I got there. On my way from the train to Project Enterprise, I saw a street vendor and I said to myself “Why don’t I ever carry cash instead of my debit card?” I should listen to my mom and at least carry $5 with me. I went past him and the invigorating smell of his scented lotions and incense made me stop to take a look. Infinite questions came rushing through my mind. It had brought back to Peru when I saw street vendors next to each other. I questioned where they lived? Or what they ate? Or where they slept? How well of their family were? How much they made? But none of it mattered just because we identified them as “street vendors” we may assume that they are “poor” but in reality the person who was stressed and nervous rushing to the interview was me. Faced with daily challenges of “what’s the next step” or “when my bills are due” or “when the next project is due” I had been living in “misery”. He on the other hand, had a smile on his face, my questions no longer mattered. What mattered was that I thought of the infinite possibilities of innovative entrepreneurial ideas waiting to be generated by those who are in the microfinance field; or by Muhammad Yunus calls “social conscious” premises.
The truth is that there is a lot to learn from everybody. Working for the people means living for society, learning to become less self conscious and more socially conscious. It turned out that the street vendor was a client for Project Enterprise and he was the only one of his kind to sell on that street. He was better off than I had assumed in the first place. In the reading, Muhammad goes into detail on why poverty exists. They don’t choose to live in poverty but society restricts them from being part of those who are well off…I still have a difficult time understanding that. Our Accounting team will start measuring the lives of our borrowers by indentifying how well off they will be after a loan. Like Muhammad Yunus states in his books, there will be indicators that will determine if they passed the “poverty line”. It will allow us to prove society that everyone has the will power to become entrepreneurs help themselves out of poverty. I believe we have a lot of work to do, by understanding each of our borrowers they will help us help ourselves and others.
Log # 7
By Krystyna Lijek
In the last two weeks we have had a few phenomenal and extremely moving speakers. Additionally, the focus and importance of water and the seriousness of water borne illness has really been brought to my attention. I never knew that more people die from lack of water or clean water than in war, or that 4 out of 10 people in the world don’t have clean drinking water. As all the speakers have emphasized, it really is hard to grasp without seeing it yourself and being there. I also think the words impoverished versus poor and developing versus third world resonate thoroughly in everything GLOBE believes in as well as these other organizations.
I felt the most moved by Tennille’s speech today. It is astonishing that her and her co-founder Alexi have accomplished so much essentially as two individuals with a dream and passion. The entire Marketing team wanted to jump on a plane to Tanzania!
It is evident the two have learned a great deal in the past four years. It is disconcerting to hear that the group which remained unnamed that the two initially traveled to Tanzania with abandoned the project it promised the local people. However, Tennille and Alexi took it into their own hands to understand what change needed to happen in the villages through that initial experience living with Bibi and speaking with villagers.
Bibi, their house mother, provided three meals a day (which I found shocking but very generous in such a culture), the two girls asked if Bibi would take them to other households in the village to explore change that was necessary. Bibi was very straight forward, explaining she would be held accountable for any actions promised which were not held true, if they spoke with the families it was not only their word but hers. After speaking with approximately 20 households, it was evident of three major necessities – water, education, and health/hygiene/hospitals. Water being the most mentioned and a droplet to lead to change more than just water. Bibi and the failed project which they initially went to Tanzania for became motivation. The two returned to New York with a mission. They began to network and did everything possible to learn how to create a non-profit, and become an established non-profit.
E.P.I.C., like GLOBE strongly believes in the grassroots approach. Regardless of growth in members and finances of E.P.I.C., this is part of the mission and what will create success. It is necessary to keep a hands-on experience in the villages. This is to insure the understanding and teaching of safe water. It is about saying we have gained this knowledge and experience about health; these are hygiene practices we want to share that with you. Instead of lecturing there is an explanation process, reasoning is developed. The two would probe with “Let’s talk about where you were collecting water, has anyone gotten sick from it?” Every family had at least one family member who had garnished some sort of misfortune due to the dirty water, anything from diarrhea to Type 1 Diabetes, etc.
This creates an understanding that the sickness is related to the dirty water; to teach them if the water is clean, sickness is avoided. The biggest challenge is enforcing the importance of the hygienic practices and why they need to adopt it within their villages. The practice needs to be daily, however, it is necessary to go back and visit the and go see that the hygienic practices are maintained.
In July of this summer, Tennille and Alexi had a thought they call “The Ripple Effect,” as clean water is provided this improvement in the village will ripple out into the community leading to better health overall, leading to the other necessities villagers mentioned in the beginning - if water no longer has to be collected far away, education can be increased - children and mothers no longer have to waste hours collecting water.
From hands-on experience they both say carrying the heavy water bucks was one of the hardest experiences they ever had, meanwhile small 5 and 6 year old children are doing it numerous times daily.
Additionally this water can prospect businesses people can now start a farm with water, and will be able to feed their family, eventually able to sell small goods in the market, E.P.I.C. wants to return and give supplies to the growth happening. For example, if a student is now doing well in school, bring school supplies like pens and paper. For farms, bring seeds, to help grow the current business.
E.P.I.C. wants to focus in on the few villages they have started drilling in, and not only focus on the wells but on the ripples. Meet with local women do hygiene and sanitation talks, as well as with children. Use props and puppetry to show the children how to brush teeth and how to wash hands. Without a well typically there is a hand dug well which is similar to a puddle that is used to collect water. Women put buckets in line to hold their place for their one bucket for their family.
All of the people they meet want to work, they want to do something, and they want to do it for themselves - from basket weaving to painting to jewelry to tourism.
Essentially this is where GLOBE and E.P.I.C. could conjoin. With help from the Daughters, there is no reason we cannot enter Tanzania. Additionally, with recommendations (especially at first) from the E.P.I.C. team of who in the community can be counted on as team leaders, who would be good at what business, microfinance is very possible.
Although, this semester we will only be able to start to explore the potential in working with E.P.I.C., I think it is a very good idea to create a bond between the two programs, feeding off of each other. Additionally, I think we can sell this all into our water bottle idea for sustainability in some fashion to create a combined project. This is down the road, but I think if our class comes up with some ideas and feeds them to next semester’s GLOBE team, anything is possible!
Log # 7
By Matthew Prisco
Today we were given the opportunity to hear from one of Everyday People Initiating Change’s (E.P.I.C.) founder, Tennille Amor. She told us a truly inspirational story about how she decided with her friend and cofounder, Alexi Panos, that she was going to make a difference in people’s lives. Tennille and Alexi then progressed to start up their own non-for-profit organization and once they started it up it was all history. Their goal is to provide clean water to people in developing countries by digging wells. These wells can cost anywhere from six thousand to sixty thousand dollars to build making this project of theirs near impossible. Through hard work and devotion they managed to find donors and hold fund raisers so that they can achieve their goals and help out the people of these impoverished countries. This year they will be digging three wells in Africa and plan on digging three more next year.
All this progress has been achieved through these two girls and their desire to help other people. This makes me see the potential that GLOBE has and that if we all work together and spread the word we can reach out to many more families and provide help. E.P.I.C. and GLOBE are in fact two very similar organizations in terms of goals. E.P.I.C.’s main stress points are that of sticking to grassroots, creating sustainability, and seeing growth within a community. This is exactly what we are looking for in GLOBE. We are trying to go into countries, help them, and most importantly, leave them in a better situation then they were before.
One of the messages that E.P.I.C. provided us with that we should take heed to is that opportunity is everywhere. As GLOBE members it is our responsibility to spread the word about it and raise awareness. Anytime a situation arises where GLOBE can be brought up it should be. You never know when someone will be inspired by what we are doing and decide to donate to the cause. E.P.I.C. told us that they receive most of their donations through people who they were just chatting about E.P.I.C. with. It is eye opening that two girls have created this great organization helping hundreds of people. I can only imagine what the GLOBE class of twenty-one can do.
Log # 7
By Bianca Caesar
I feel that this week reading was very inspirational. After reading Muhammad Yunus book, “Banker to the Poor”, I felt that Murshida’s story could inspire other potential borrowers that might be scared to take out a loan because of the fears that they have. I feel that her story was inspirational because her husband kicked her out of the house and left her to take care of their kids by herself. Although she was discouraged by the village leader as well as a Grameen worker, she was still motivated to take out a loan in order to provide for her children. With her second loan, she was able to manufacture lady scarves and sell them wholesale at 100 taka with tassels and 50 taka without. She also was able to hire as many as 25 women in her village to help her manufacture scarves during peak periods. In addition, she also brought an acre of farmland, built a house and also helped set up her brother’s business.
I feel that Murshida’s success story should be told to every borrower that has doubts about taking out a loan. I feel that hearing her story and how successful she became because of the loan will encourage more people to overcome their fears of taking out a loan.
After reading Murshida story, I feel that I would want our borrower to have the same success story. Murshida story is a great example of what the accounting team wishes to accomplish with our client impact evaluation. With our client impact evaluation, we want to see how the loan that we give to our borrowers impacted their lives. For example, with Murshida, she was able to move out of her brother’s house and buy her own acre of farmland and a house. In addition, she was also able to hire other women in her village to work for her and also help set up her brother’s business. This is what we hope to accomplish with our loans. We want our borrowers to improve their quality of living as well as improve the quality of living of the other around them.
Log # 8
By Kelly Yee
In the last class meeting, a representative from E.P.I.C. came to class to tell us what she and her partner have been doing with their organization. It is inspiring how just two ordinary young women are able to do by themselves. They started out knowing how to even start a non-for profit organization, but with the help of friends and strangers, they have made a name for themselves. People are willing to help if we are willing to ask for it. Although the two young women are dedicated to what they are doing, they also have their personal lives too. They work on other jobs so they will have funds for E.P.I.C. They have an interesting promotional item too. The dog tags are representative of their young spirit. Maybe we can do something like this for next semester’s promotional item. It is cool and there is important information on the tag.
An interesting topic that was discussed in this week’s reading is that of group lending. It is a viable option for GLOBE. With a group loan, there will likely be a lower possibility of a default on a loan. The people of the community will be sources of support and they will keep the other members of the loan group from defaulting. Because it is a group loan, they do not want anyone from their group to default. Once one person defaults, the entire group would have to pick up their slack. It will be easier to deal with a group of lenders than each individual borrower. It will make the process more efficient. This type of lending will most likely improve the community in which most of the lenders are living or doing their businesses in. There is more than one group lending models to choose from. As a starting point, I think that following the group lending model used by Muhammad Yunus. Our program started with the inspiration provided by Muhammad Yunus, and it would not be wrong to follow his models.
During the past week, my group focused on gathering information and research for our final project video and for our final paper. We could not meet over the past weekend as everyone was busy with other things, but we are meeting again this Wednesday to work on our video. We are meeting again on Sunday to work on our presentation and on the video if it is not done on Wednesday.
By Alicia Provenzano
This past week’s class was particularly exciting. Tennille Amor from the organization E.P.I.C. (Everyday People Initiating Change) spoke with us about what her company does. It is a non-profit organization that was founded by Tennille Amor and Alexi Panos. They are committed to developing safe, clean drinking water to villages in developing nations, such as Tanzania. They do this by building clean water wells and educating villages on hygiene and sanitation. They have made several trips to villages in Tanzania to speak with families and villages about what is important to them and what they as E.P.I.C. can do to help better their lives.
It was interesting to hear of E.P.I.C.’s “Ripple Project.” This is the idea that having a clean water well in a community will affect all aspects of the community. It will improve health conditions. Unsanitary water causes many avoidable deaths. By having a source of clean water, health conditions will improve, leading to less water related deaths. A well also increases the level of sanitation in the community. According to the World Health Organization, "no single type of intervention has a greater overall impact upon the national development and public health than does the provision of safe drinking water and proper disposal of human excreta”. Creating separate locations for clean water and water for sanitation purposes leads to a cleaner environment for villagers. Clean water wells also lead to a decrease in hunger. Because water is a necessity in life, having the appropriate amount of daily drinking water is vital to health and nutrition. As the “Ripple Project” shows, having a clean source of water and sanitation helps the economy. It allows children to attend school without being physically exhausted from collecting water or not having water to drink. It gives adults time to work as opposed to walking far distances to collect water. Having clean water can improve the lives of villagers in many ways.
Like GLOBE, E.P.I.C. helps better the lives of people in developing countries by creating sustainable solutions. They develop clean water systems; we develop loans to help entrepreneurs. Both help people help themselves. During last week’s discussion, the idea of a partnership between E.P.I.C. and GLOBE was mentioned. I see this as a fantastic idea. Tennille mentioned that some people in the villages she works with want to start their own businesses. By giving loans to these people, they will be on the way to a fully sustainable life, with clean water because of E.P.I.C. and a job because of GLOBE. Many classmates showed interest in traveling to Tanzania with E.P.I.C. It would be a fantastic, eye-opening experience that someday, I hope I can do.
It is heartening to see two young women who made a promise to help a village, go through with their promise and create such a large cause. So many people make promises that they simply forget about a few days later. Throughout the semesters our texts have told of people that followed through with their promises, even if they seem farfetched at the time. As Tennille said, we all have to remember what we have done. When we leave GLOBE at the end of this semester, we cannot forget what we did. We have to continue to spread knowledge of our cause and do the best we can for the rest of our lives. This is something so special. I know it is something that I will never forget.
Log # 8
By Eryn Marx
This week in GLOBE, our class mostly focused on E.P.I.C or Everyday People Initiating Change. We had a speaker that was the founder of EPIC and her name was Tennille. During her presentation she discussed what EPIC was about and how it started. It was interesting how two young girls were able to start a non-profit organization and be so successful. Neither Tennille nor the other co-founder had any experience in running a business or a non-profit organization before starting EPIC but because of their continuous perseverance were able to do so. It was inspiring to hear how an idea became reality and see that if you really want something it can happen if you want it to.
EPIC is a non-profit organization that drills wells in Tanzania to help communities be able to better themselves. The founders of EPIC believed that by providing something as basic as water a community could lift itself because they would be able to have clean water that would lower disease and water borne illnesses, women who walk all day to get water will no longer have to do so and they will be able to work instead to provide for themselves and their family, and children who would have to spend their entire day going to get water will not be able to go to school. All of these examples would help better a community and allow every aspect of it to improve overall.
After successfully drilling a well in a community, EPIC is now beginning to try and create a “ripple effect” within these communities. They believe that now that there is water other small items or projects can be completed to help a community. One example that Tennille gave was that EPIC donated two bicycles to a community to allow them to more readily get water before a well was drilled to instill trust between the community and EPIC and also make it faster to retrieve water for the time being. Small acts like these can make a community even stronger and allow more people to work and allow children to get their education.
EPIC is great organization and there are many ways that GLOBE and EPIC can come together to better communities in many different ways. Collaborations could include having borrowers from these communities take microfinance loans through GLOBE or, once a well is completed having a loan taken out and an individual sell extra water for a small fee to gain profits within the community. Also, we could be included in the ripple effect in other ways to help in these communities.
Log # 8
By Hieu Duong
This week was another “week of water”. This week we had a guest speaker from E.P.I.C. (Everyday People Initiating Change) Tennille Amor, one of the two founders, came to our class to talk about her organization. She mentioned that although she and her friend had absolutely no experience in the non-profit world before, they were determined to follow their dream of helping those in the developing world less fortunate than themselves.
It all happened in a trip to Tanzania. Tennille and her friend stayed in a host family for about a month. During the trip, they noticed that many women and kids had to travel miles a day to get clean water. Before they left, they promised to do something that could help the villagers. They kept their promise, and made it become real. Few months later, they came back to that village and built up a pump where people could get clean water. From this starting point, they decided to help out other villages.
Tennille is such an enthusiastic, passionate and lovely person. Although she did not use a PowerPoint presentation, her speech was still so interesting. In the speech, Tennille mentioned that she and her friend would actually come back to the village to see how the pump improves the villagers’ life quality. I think this is a really good idea to see the impact of microfinance. Tennille also mentioned that because they have gone to lots of networking events where they met new people and many of them are interested in E.P.I.C. I think if we want GLOBE to be well known, we definitely need to participate in more networking events. At the end, Tennille even gave the class some gifts at the end of her speech.
Log # 9
By Anthony Yiu
We had a guest speaker from Project Enterprise this week. Project Enterprise is a domestic, microlending organization that supports and develops entrepreneurs and small businesses in under-resourced communities in New York City. They have lent up to $15,000 with no collateral to small businesses and entrepreneurs, under the condition the individual will participate in training. Our guest speaker himself was someone who had spent a large portion of his career working at non-profit organizations.
I was impressed to learn about how Project Enterprise provides more than just a loan. They have legal support for their members and they put their members into groups, which enables them to share ideas and perspective on various issues. I believe this is a very interesting approach to help entrepreneurs and small businesses to grow and spread their wings. I was also impressed with the kinds of businesses that people wanted to start. It is great to know that there are still various untapped potential of small-scale business.
After the presentation, we discussed in class the difference of microfinance in developing and developed countries. The levels of difference in terms of political instability, size of loans, degree of poverty, etc. are so evident. However, while it is fair to say that the lending model is not quite the same, there are still some similarities in terms of processes. Additionally, we also discussed the importance of keeping the balance for a microfinance institution between being profit-minded and dedicated to helping the borrowers. When an MFI becomes completely profit driven, they may not be able to give the desired impact on alleviating poverty.
Log # 9
By Natasha Toccket
This past week we had a guest speaker from Project Enterprise. The information he presented to us was phenomenal. He began by showing us a short film about some of their borrowers. Most of their borrowers are from Harlem, NY. These borrowers love Project Enterprise, not only because of the loans they receive, but also because of the services they provide. Project Enterprise provides its borrowers with classes on how to become entrepreneurs. They also learn bookkeeping and how to market their stores.
Project Enterprise’s presentation was really intriguing. A lot of the times when we are marketing and trying to raise money for GLOBE, there are many people that respond: “we have enough poverty in our own country to deal with”. Project Enterprise does just that – they help people living in poverty in the United States to get started with their own business. They help people who would otherwise not be able to receive a loan because of their credit score, to receive money from a loan, pay it back with low interest, while learning how to keep their business running and make it grow.
The speaker also touched a little on how he wanted to incorporate insurance into the project. He wanted the loans to also provide both health and property insurance for their borrower’s. I thought this would be a great aspect to incorporate into Project Enterprise’s business model. As a member of the marketing team, we have been researching MFI’s that provide side services to their borrowers. A lot of the MFI’s we read about provide tangible items to the villages where the loans are given out. Another one provides technical support to upcoming MFI’s so that they are able to succeed. But, it was neat to hear that Project Enterprise provided a service to better the knowledge of their clients to enhance their business. Since the success of the business is essentially what micro lending is all about, helping clients succeed at what their using the loan for, seems like the most logical.
I would like to get involved with Project Enterprise. I would also like to further research their model and the way they run their classes on entrepreneurial skills. I think that one day GLOBE could incorporate something similar to their borrower’s throughout the world; improving the return payment rates of loans and lives of the borrower’s all at the same time!
Log # 9
By Benny Cotilletta
While there are underlying messages that last throughout the semester of GLOBE, there seems to be a different focus or theme every week. One thing that stood out to me was the importance of community. The CEO of Project Enterprise, Mel Washington, came in to talk about local community development via microcredit and business development services.
Many MFIs and microfinance articles claim that the repayment rate for microloans is above 95%. However, the repayment rate at Project Enterprise is 80%. Yes, this may be particularly low at the moment due to the recession but, even if the repayment rate was 92% (as Mel mentioned it once was), then could it really be 95% in a developing country. A country where the majority of its citizens are impoverished and lacking basic, fundamental needs.
Borrowers may have new access to capital but they may lack other resources like business skills. Project Enterprise attempts to solve this problem in their location. What makes Project Enterprise attractive to most borrowers is not the access to capital but their 6-week training class. In this class, the borrower receives extensive training and joins a “peer group.” In this group, the entrepreneurs create a support system where they decide who is most ready to receive the loan. There is also a psychological element to the support system. Each member does not feel “alone” and has someone to share their experience with.
Creating a group lending system would be a step in the right direction for GLOBE. Clearly, the relationship that Dr. Sama and GLOBE has with the Daughters in Kenya is strong. Trust and confidence in long-distance communication is hard to achieve. This relationship is vital to the sustainability of GLOBE. Working with the Daughters to create a peer support group would be the best way to ensure repayments, thus more loans in the community. Hopefully, older borrowers can be a guide to the newer borrowers creating a cyclical system of skills that pairs with the cyclical system of microcredit.
Log # 9
By Vijay Chodha
This semester is almost finished but, we have many things to do. We are evaluating the fact that what we have done this semester was successful. Also, this is the best and most efficient way to reaching the most people and helping the most people. The Grameen model of group lending or “joined responsibility” is what has been a major factor for its success in Bangladesh and consequently, different types of microfinance organizations have replicated it. Group lending offers a number of advantages for both borrowers and lenders. It provides access to microcredit for underprivileged individuals while lenders’ responsibilities are shifted to the group. Some of these responsibilities include screening through potential borrowers in the group formation, peer mentoring and monitoring, and enforcement of the loan repayment. We are evaluating the risk potential of this and seeing if our funds are sufficient enough to sustain the risk of a large group. From what we have seen in past records from other Microloan Programs group lending has a higher percent of returns. This week we finished our updated balance sheet, T-accounts and financial statements to show the class our progress and loan approvals. Time is running short, so we need to get ready for the upcoming event to show alumni and St Johns on what we have done. I want this semester to be successful and set a foundation for future classes, especially accounting teams, to have a proper record so when they start GLOBE they have the accrued information and usability is easier.
Log # 10
By Susan Nordquist
Is it already time to write my final log? This semester has gone by so quickly but, not without a lot of excitement and eye openings. The stories that we have heard from our guest speakers have been incredible – from Tennille passionately sharing the water pump projects she has installed through EPIC in Tanzania, to Project Enterprise’s Mel Washington telling inspiring stories of microloan success closer to home. Our faithful textbooks have filled in the gaps with even more stories from Muhammad Yunus, some jerking a few tears!
Our dedicated professor, Dr. Sama, has once again shown her commitment to the program. She has led our GLOBE class through this semester, ensuring no one fell behind. She spends countless hours behind the scenes not only preparing lesson plans but also keeping the program running smoothly and acting as a connection between the students, the Steering Committee, and the Daughters of Charity helping us on the field. It is amazing what she accomplishes with a telephone and an email account!
Along that note, the GLOBE GAP team has done an amazing job as well. I love the devotion that comes from them – knowing how much they put into the program pushes our class that much more. It is incredible that they take time out of their graduate school lives to help our cause and its touching that they have so much commitment to our borrowers.
As the IT Team wraps up the semester, we continue to work towards the final presentation. Our final video had a little roadblock because of compatibility issues between Macs and PCs, but we should be on our feet with that soon.
Our paper, on the potential to loan to Cuba, is written and being compiled this week. While researching I had come across a few articles about the restriction lifts of small businesses in Cuba. Because the socialist economy is failing and much of the financial support from other countries has dissipated over the last decade, the government is more open to private businesses. In the past, restaurant owners were limited in the number of guests they could legally serve during any one meal, such limitations have become less stringent, leading to increased economic activity. Also, the number of industries that small businesses are allowed to enter has recently been expanded. I am very hopeful for the possibility of extensive microloans in Cuba, even if they do not come from America.
This semester has been a great learning experience. I have learned so much about the power that individual people possess to help others. I hope that the classes that follow us learn as much as we did, and are able to carry on the program.
Log # 10
By Billy Myers
With just two weeks left, it is surprising to think that this semester is already over. GLOBE has broadened our horizons and showed us not to take anything on the surface, but to dig in deep. We have learned that just because people are living in poverty does not mean that they are poor, and just because you are born into a wealthier nation does not make you entitled. GLOBE may have some kinks to work out. Nonetheless, with the dedication from people like my classmates and the GLOBE managers prior to us; we should be able to round out the edges. This semester would not have gone as smoothly if it were not for GLOBE GAP and Dr. Sama's help. I for one am very grateful for all of the hard work and devotion they put into this program.
Microfinance is in its teenage years, learned from its childhood but still has a lot to be taught before it can call itself and adult. There will be many people trying to take advantage of it and hopefully they will remember the past and not fall for scams. GLOBE has the ability to learn from these preceding organizations. We get to see how they operate either nationally or internationally. There was not a week that went by where we did not read about Muhammad Yunus or Grameen Bank. We along with GLOBE GAP can shape this organization to cater the needs of our borrowers and future borrowers.
We have come very far from where we started and sometimes we were at each other's throats. However, I think the other managers and I have come to appreciate the special experience we were able to partake in. Dr. Sama has “dotted the i's and crossed the t's”, it is now up to us to take what we have learned and apply it to our everyday lives. I came in eager to learn and make friends, but what I realized is that it is not about what I get out of GLOBE, it is what our borrowers make from it.
Log # 10
By Randall Acosta
Being part of GLOBE these several weeks has been one of the most rewarding and satisfying experiences I could have asked for. GLOBE has opened my eyes to the power of microfinance and the good that can come from not focusing at a bottom line but at a social line. A social good that is used to measure success through the changed lives and growing communities we have come to be part of. Muhammad Yunus truly inspired us into action with his rise in India through microfinance. It is his works that makes us believe in GLOBE that what we do has an impact on the world. Seeing the faces of the people we help and reading about their stories has not only touched us but made all everyone in GLOBE more aware of what life is around the world. In reality our borrowers taught and helped us grow more than any loan we could offer could. Whether it was helping Christine in Kenya purchase a new loom after she had lost her entire business in a fire or helping Richard in Congo start up a rice farm to help feed his family, all our borrowers taught us a lesson in determination and passion.
I know I learned a lot in this class. Whenever I mentioned to friends, family, colleagues, or just someone in the cafeteria the work I did in GLOBE, it always made them wide eyed with interest. They would ask me how it works and if business can actually be something more than the money hungry machine it is often portrayed as. At which I would most certainly say “It Can and It Is!”. This program is still just starting to move its way and I am sure I will be promoting it long after I leave the GLOBE doors. But that’s the good thing about GLOBE, you never truly leave it behind. The graduate school alumni have helped us throughout the semester and GLOBE members of the past occasionally visit to pass on their wisdom. Even mentioning it to people in our networks will undoubtedly find its way back to GLOBE and help in some form or another. Increasing awareness of what GLOBE does and the power that these borrowers imbue to us mere students to help their lives is nothing short of amazing.
I hope that all future GLOBE members may experience this class the way I and all of my current members did. Things will soon be moving faster than we can keep up and GLOBE has a bright future I am sure of it.
Log # 10
By Andrew Bartley
In the year 2000, there was a summit held in which the world’s nations came together and agreed on a common objective to eradicate poverty within 15 years. It is now the year 2010 and that goal is nowhere near being fully accomplished. The future would seem bleak, except for one hope. In being a part of the GLOBE program at St John’s University, it is evident that although micro-finance possesses some inherent flaws, it has the potential to greatly contribute in the effort to eradicate global suffering.
Microfinance, as indicated by MGT-4310-0, is a powerful tool in eradicating poverty because it provides a framework in which the financiers can generate profit while still helping the poor. While participating in St. John’s GLOBE program, there were 9 loans approved, all which will generate a 5 % return on investment. The class has distributed loans throughout many developing nations with the moral aim of increasing the quality of life for a diverse array of individuals. Many MFIs have fallen into the trap of charging egregious interest rates, but the students at St. John’s University have been educated on the errors of such actions. The class has embodied the concept of balancing helping others, while striving to create a self sustaining entity that can increase its sphere of influence.
The balance between profit and philanthropy, a task well done by the students within the GLOBE program, under Dr. Sama’s guidance, has been made possible by the diverse array of interests from the participants. The main reason that NGO’s have failed to eradicate poverty in the past is because there were not enough of them. The lack of NGO’s is due to a lack of interest in helping others with 0 returns on investment. MFI’s on the other hand, attracts many people due to the careful mixture of profits and philanthropy. The globe program has attracted students from different cultures, different backgrounds, and different interest within microfinance, thus creating a program with multiple viewpoints. Within MGT-4310-0 it was enjoyable hearing the different approaches to microfinance from the students because it showed that a program such as this is adaptable, and that’s why it can succeed in alleviating poverty within different cultural environments.
Although there exists, the chance of abuse within the microfinance industry, proper education can nullify such possibilities. The main problem with microfinance is that, many entities have committed usury by charging high interest rates. Other entities have invested capital, while focusing on profits rather than helping the poor. The reasons behind such abuses are because the financiers have not been educated that such actions are not self sustaining (i.e.: microfinance institutions have been banned in many regions due to abuse). If social entrepreneurs are educated before entering the industry, as the Globe students have been, about the detrimental effects of a profit focused MFI, then the chances of abuse are greatly diminished. It was a pleasure to be a part of the Globe program at St. John’s University because it made the future seam hopeful. Perhaps one day in the near future, people will have to visit museums to see what poverty was like.
By: Shawn Chowdhury
GLOBE is a class like no other provided at St. John’s University. In most classes students take tests to assess how much they understood the concepts. This method of education is flawed in a number of ways. Some students may understand the information but they may not be good test takers and other students may cheat without getting caught and do better than the student who actually understood the information. In other words, test grades may not be an accurate indication of how well students retain and understand information. In GLOBE test grades are a small part of the learning experience. GLOBE is a hands-on learning experience. The quality of education in this experience is much greater than that acquired from taking a test. In this class you don’t just learn about microfinance; you become emerged in it. A Chinese proverb that Dr. Sama always uses to describe the experience is, “Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.” I believe GLOBE is one of the few classes that help students fully understand miniscule details and implications of the subject they are teaching by actually involving them in the experience.
I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in GLOBE. I truly believe that the class has made me more knowledgeable as a person who is interested in poverty alleviation. The readings and presentations provided by Dr. Sama give students a thorough understanding of how poverty affects people and how poverty can be mitigated. Throughout the year we saw presentations by other groups and professionals to help us further develop our understanding. Each presentation captivated my mind and kept me informed.
Besides the interesting subject matter of poverty, the class also helped me grow as a future professional. Through GLOBE I was able to dress in business attire, interact and mingle with other professionals and present information to them, proficiently, in the form of presentations. GLOBE teaches students how to handle real world situations. Everything in the class has deadlines, requires meetings in order to meet deadlines and forces students to collaborate in order to get things done. There is no way to cheat in this situation. You are forced to learn. If you cannot learn, you cannot present. If you cannot present, you not only let yourself down, you let the class down.
I am proud to be a GLOBE manager. I have learned so much from taking this class and I hope to use the information I acquired in the near future. I eagerly await the opportunity to interview for a company and talk about how much I learned about professionalism through GLOBE or how the Associate Vice President of Institutional Advancement at St John’s was so interested by the Auditing System that our group created that he decided to use it in his role of Professional Development. This class easily has most real world application of any class I have ever taken in St. John’s. Although I don’t know what I will ultimately do when I leave St. John’s, I know that I will use the skills I learned in this class wherever I go.
By: Sally Ren
The GLOBE final presentation was a huge success with over $800 sold in raffle tickets, an all time record. I am so proud of my team and for their hard work. It really paid off, when we had our Prezi presentation shown on the big screen it was unbelievable. I felt really good and confident about what I had done these past months. Every team did a fantastic job and I left that night feeling excited, bittersweet, and proud of the GLOBE class that I had been a part of. The journey doesn’t end there, helping others only started with GLOBE. It’s all about paying it forward.
I have decided to pay it forward. GLOBE gave me the idea for a business plan that I have submitted to the business competition. The business is called B.E.P. - Businesses Eradicating Poverty, where we can take the goods produced by the borrowers and sell it online to the mass market. The great advantage of the goods being sold in the mass market is that there would be more profits for the borrowers than if it was sold locally. But like all businesses there are obstacles, the biggest one that I see is the cost involved with shipping the goods from Africa to the USA. However, I do believe it can become a reality with time, research, donations and good people supporting the cause. That is the reason I hope that in some way GLOBE can in the future incorporate this or if a partnership could be formed between B.E.P., GLOBE and the Daughters of Charity. I hope with my free time I can travel and be inspired with possible solutions in which I can push forward these efforts.
Similarly, I have decided as a Senior to part take in St. Baldricks, the event where people raise money for children’s cancer research and shave their heads. Right now I have set out to collect $2,000 by March. If that goal is met I will be shaving my head, which will be documented in detailed. The reason I thought to do this is because it was a challenge in many ways. It was a challenge of my character as a person, giving up my long hair for a cause. Realizing the consequences that this might hinder potential job offers and judgment by the masses, but I think of myself as a risk taker and someone that does not conform. I wanted to throw a quick plug in here donations are being collected online at Sally Ren's St. Baldricks Page.
All in all, GLOBE is a great class and a great experience. We all real do become a family, with one common goal of alleviating poverty one microloan at a time.
By: John Marchi
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. This is a phrase that I feel really applies to our past semester. We have overcome so many obstacles that were out of our control that could have really set us back. We however stayed dedicated to the borrowers. That is after all why we are here- to help our borrowers succeed. There were times when I thought we would not be able to achieve our goals; there were times when I thought that we were stagnant, but the Finance and Risk Assessment Team really pulled through and was able to have an experiential and academic experience through GLOBE. I think the fact that there was a human being attached to each loan is what kept us motivated.
GLOBE has reinforced to me how powerful microfinance can be. I first learned of GLOBE through a faculty council meeting in 2009. I was further exposed as a member of the microfinance alliance at Credit Suisse. Being able to take part in the practical portion of it by reviewing loan applications, issuing loans, following up with partners in the field, presenting to the Steering Committee, and fundraising has all given me a true appreciation for how far a dollar raised can go. I have also gained an appreciation for our donors, whether someone donates one dollar at a bake sale, or fifteen thousand dollars- it all makes a difference, and they all have helped us to alleviate poverty.
The world that we live in is forever evolving, and so is GLOBE. This semester, we issued the first ever self-revolving group loan. We also set the framework for next semester’s managers to receive an application for a housing loan. We realized that by diversifying our products, we will also mitigate risk further. Additionally, this semester, we really benefited from cloud computing. By saving our records to a Google drive account, we were able to track who makes changes, as well as collaborate while all in different places. We are using forms to track loan progress that will enable the ease of export into excel, from anywhere around the globe.
GLOBE would not be successful without the four teams, director and coordinator working together as one machine to further advance the mission. We truly saw us unite as one, especially after Hurricane Sandy when even though some of us were impacted, we put on our Treat for Change event raising over four hundred dollars which was matched by Dr. Sama and donated to the relief efforts.
In closing, I will always hold GLOBE close to my heart. It has been one of the most memorable courses I’ve taken because it is so interactive- when you are in GLOBE, you eat, breathe, and sleep GLOBE. It is now up to us to ensure that down the road- GLOBE continues and we stay involved- whether through GLOBE G.A.P., joining the Steering Committee or contributing financial means.
By: Daniel O’Boyle
GLOBE has hands down been my best experience with a college class while attending St. John’s University. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be selected to partake in such a fulfilling and enlightening course. GLOBE has exceeded my every expectation by leaps and bounds.
Upon acceptance into GLOBE, I was not sure what exactly to expect from the course. I came in thinking that the basic idea of the course was to give loans to poor people. What I actually encountered through my work was so much more worthwhile and enriching than initially anticipated. One of the first things I learned was that my initial insight into the course was essentially flawed. In GLOBE we do not give loans to poor people, we give loans to those who are living in poverty. The distinction between these two phrases is probably one of the most important things I will take away from this course. People who are living in poverty do not always consider themselves to be poor. What they lack in financial resources, they more than make up for in culture and pride.
Through this class, I feel that I have gained substantial knowledge in microfinance. Prior to the beginning of this class, I had very limited information on this field or the humanitarian possibilities that it holds. Microfinance is now my most preferred and inspirational tool to use in the battle to eradicate poverty. Microfinance provides an opportunity for a borrower to use their own skills and talents to climb out of poverty. It is not simply a handout or standard charity; it is a chance for those living in poverty to help themselves. It also provides the borrower with knowledge and experience in financial situations that will certainly benefit them throughout their lives. GLOBE provides a unique hands-on learning experience that other courses lack. This makes it far more interesting and much easier to learn.
This class has also introduced me to an entirely new group of people. I only knew one other student in the class before it began. However, I am now proud to call all of these people my friends. In GLOBE we work much closer with those around you than in a standard class. It is particularly interesting because the students in GLOBE all come from a variety of unique backgrounds, both socially and academically. This truly allows for diverse perspectives and opinions. The combination of these different ideas gives GLOBE a unique insight that other classes tend to lack.
GLOBE has taught me many lessons that I will continue to uphold upon completion of the course. First and foremost is time management. There is a good amount of work that needs to be done for the class. It is important for the managers to set aside time to make sure that the teams can accomplish their ambitious goals that they set in the beginning of the semester. Another lesson that I have learned is the importance of teamwork and communication. Communication is essential to this class and takes place through a variety of mediums. All of the members of the class are quite busy. Therefore, team members need to make sure that they keep in contact with each other and let each other know what they are doing.
In short, I am very thankful to have been a part of the enriching and enlightening experience that GLOBE truly is.
By: Claire Cilento
It seems like just yesterday we were getting our group picture taken, but now our GLOBE shirts are faded, our objectives are checked off, and we are ready to take what we have learned from this class onto the next step of our lives. Here are some of the top lessons I’ve learned from GLOBE that I will take with me to my career and beyond:
Teamwork - This semester, I met sixteen people, almost all of whom I had never met, whom I was expected to work closely with both inside and outside of class time. This meant a lot of different personalities to learn how to work and communicate with. I have learned that working with a team can be extremely positive, as everyone has different ideas they can contribute and things can get done more quickly. Even in microfinance, teamwork helps to ease the process as group loans have often been proven to work better. The things I learned from these experiences, such as the fact that everyone has different management styles that you may need to adapt to in order to work well with them, are things I will take with me.
Don’t be afraid to take risks – I have learned from our readings and lectures this past semester that microfinance involves a lot of risk. Additionally, I realized that the many people who have invested their time, money, and interest in GLOBE have taken a risk as they do not know where exactly the program will go. I guess technically I too, took a risk by jumping into a class when I knew so little about microfinance. But I’ve learned that sometimes it’s okay to take a risk. Just because borrowers do not have collateral, does not mean that they do not have the ability to come up with new business ideas and work hard enough to help themselves out of poverty. And just because much of GLOBE depends on students, does not mean it is not a risk worth taking. I will remember that taking a risk does not always necessarily mean a bad thing as I go on in life.
Communication skills – Whether it was speaking with the Steering Committee during our first meeting, conversing with donors and supporters at our Appreciation Luncheon, or reaching out to members of the class to get something organized for an event, GLOBE has definitely improved my communication skills. I have had to learn not to be shy to express my thoughts or ideas and also remember that the way you communicate can have a big impact on the way people respond.
Don’t forget to express gratitude – From our readings, presentations, and learning about the life of our borrowers, I have been reminded of how fortunate I truly am. The people benefiting from microfinance and from the loans our GLOBE program gives out have to deal with much more on a daily basis than I will probably ever have to experience. This has reminded me to count my blessings every day and be grateful for what I have.
So, that’s it - the GLOBE Fall 2012 class is just about over. But even after all our logs are handed in, our presentations are made, and we count up the last dollar that we raised over the last few months, I’ll still continue to remember these lessons I’ve learned and the 16 other GLOBE managers that I have grown to admire and really enjoy working with.
By: Xixi Liu
The first time I heard about GLOBE was from my deans. They told me about this magnificent program where I can not only earn academic credit, but at the same time make a difference in the world. I was intrigued by the goals and accomplishments that the program had made in the past and it was a great honor for me to be able to take part in a program that can create history.
I entered this program not knowing much about microfinance and the depth of poverty in developing countries. But I am leaving with a wealth of knowledge that supersedes any class and textbook that I have took and read in the past. This was not just a class that we received lectures in. We gained hands on experience by administrating different events and fundraisers like our annual Treat for Change event, the Appreciation Luncheon, and our bake sale at the entrepreneur event. Through these experiences we not only learned about microfinance but we also gained knowledge on marketing, managing, accounting and the importance of technology as well. This is a course that encompasses all aspects of business that can help enhance our real world experiences.
This is also a place where we can make a contribution; a place where we actually came into direct contact with those that are in need. Like Dr. Sama says all the time, “with each loan we are giving, we are making a difference.” Not only the loans, but with every little thing we did during the program, we have already made a difference.
We are a class, a highly noted academic program, but more importantly we are a family. We are different people with different majors and backgrounds, but have been joined together by the same goal: alleviating poverty. The diversity in my class alone is astounding. We have people that are business majors but at the same time we have others that are majoring in things like government and politics. We have Americans, but similarly we have people that are actually from developing countries like Bangladesh. All of us are different, yet very much the same when we join together and collaborate as one. We’ve learned to work with each other and help one another as needed. This program would not be the success it is today without team effort and the support of other faculty members and donors.
I can honestly say that GLOBE has been one of the best decisions I have made after coming to St. John’s University. It taught me a great deal on team work, communication, and the business world. But it was also because of GLOBE that I was able to use my abilities to make that difference I am capable of making. No matter how small it may be, I know I took part in changing history.
By: Moneifa Nance
"The key to ending extreme poverty is to enable the poorest of the poor to get their foot on the ladder of development. The ladder of development hovers overhead, and the poorest of the poor are stuck beneath it. They lack the minimum amount of capital necessary to get a foothold, and therefore need a boost up to the first rung. " – Jeffery Sachs
My journey with GLOBE fall 2012 is one that I will surely never forget. I learned a very valuable lesson in this very short semester. GLOBE is a microloan program that is known for helping the poorest of the poor but it almost does just as much for it managers. Just as Jessica Lazo of the Spring 2009 inaugural class said during her speech, I too have been permanently affected by GLOBE and the idea of microfinance. I will continue to keep this concept in mind through my career and philanthropic endeavors.
I remember being disappointed about being placed on the IT and Communications Team at our first class meeting on September 4, 2012. I had no experience or interest in technology what so ever. I believed that continuing in the course would be a big mistake but the curiosity in me and my passion for poverty alleviation convinced me to stay. After a couple more classes I became well acquainted with the rest of the class. I must admit that is was difficult working with my team as they were very different from the usual team (in terms of leadership and professionalism) but I managed to assimilate and make the best of the situation. GLOBE helped me realized that I can adjust and perform in any environment. I hope that GLOBE will advertise the change it inspires for it managers at St John’s as well as the change it stimulates in the world.
GLOBE fall 2012 manager’s are probably the most hardworking class of all. Given the major obstacles we’ve come across (Hurricane Sandy in particular), we still managed to complete most of our goals and still issued a new loan, which is the first of its kind for our program. Some of the most monumental changes have occurred during our administration. My team created a dynamic website, the accounting team updated the lexicon and created training modules, the marketing team broke the record number of raffle ticket sales, and of course the finance team issued the loan and did ground breaking research for starting business in Peru. Our donors will have memories of the Appreciation Luncheon long after we are gone which speaks volumes of the impact our creativity has had on them.
With that I would like to thank Dr. Sama not only for giving us this wonderful opportunity, but for sharing her expertise with us in the form of lectures. Although the lectures are the most underrated aspects of the class, they happen to be one of my favorite parts. I find the field of microfinance to be so fascinating with so much left to be discovered. I truly believe that poverty cannot be alleviated by giving hand outs it must be dealt with from the root cause which is the lack of self-sustainability. I admired GLOBE for helping the poorest of the poor and I hope that this philosophy will remain intact in the generations of GLOBE managers to come.