Each semester, students enrolled in the Global Microloan Program will update this site with their bi-weekly program logs. The Fall 2021 student teams include Enterprise Development and Program Impact Audits; Finance and Risk Assessment; Marketing and Fundraising; and Technology and Communications.
Enterprise Development and Program Impact Audits Team Sean Bagasevich, Greggy Charles, Leah Chavez, Holly Gola*
Finance and Risk Assessment Team Ajay Ghingoor, Jack Jacobi, Valentina Mendez, Olivia O’Reilly*, Purva Padh
Marketing and Fundraising Team Hamza Lamkhatri, Delia Looby*, Valentina Manciameli, Ignacio Prieto
Technology and Communications Team Salvatore Chabla, Jackson Geddes, Sara Gowen*
Finance, Budgets and Risk Assessment Team
By: Olivia O’Reilly
The first two weeks of GLOBE were a whirlwind of emotions, full of excitement and curiosity. Prior to the first class, I was excited to meet new people who shared the same interests both in helping others and working in person within teams for the first time in a year. During the first class, I realized the commitment that GLOBE demands from the designated team tasks as well as the educational requirements: discussion posts, assigned readings, and weekly reflection logs. At first, this was quite overwhelming to process during the initial class. However, by the second week I started to appreciate the workload, as I already understand the loan process and the basics of micro-financing, along with the advantages and disadvantages.
Aside from the classwork, I had a discussion with my dad after the first class, which brought this work closer to home than I had previously thought it was. My dad explained that when he was growing up, his family back in Ireland was in the same financial situation as many of the borrowers of GLOBE. This led to a deeper conversation, in which I was able to understand the struggles that many people living in poverty experience. Even though I knew my father grew up in a poor family, I had never realized how hard life was, and how many sacrifices all members of the family -both parents and children- made to make ends meet. My father left school in middle school to take care of his sick mother and work on the farm, as my grandmother was no longer able to do so. This connects to the discussion board where Jack made a great point of the cyclical factors of poverty: the lack of access to education, the lack of access to nutritious food, and the lack of access to quality affordable healthcare. This is a cycle that my own family went through, and many millions suffer through to this day. It is not easy to break out of the cycle, even with help, but from what I have learned so far, there is hope. Each loan has the potential to alleviate a family from poverty, and for that, the effort is truly worth it.
Now reflecting on the past two weeks, I feel empowerment to serve these borrowers because they are amazing and innovative people who do so much for their families. Ofelia, the borrower on whose loan application I’m working, works as a teacher but wants to sell food to help his family, as income is short due to the cost of renting. The hard work that the borrowers put in every day pushes me to do more and work to provide loans as soon as possible.
Enterprise Development and Program Impact Audits Team
By: Leah Chavez
As the semester began to approach, I was nervous about being a part of GLOBE. I wasn’t sure if it would be somewhere I could be useful and help out (especially due to my lack of knowledge in Microfinance). The group interviews I sat through before did not help to boost my confidence, after hearing all these talented candidates that had so much to offer. However, after meeting in the first class, that nervous feeling has become overridden by motivation and determination. There are so many different aspects of GLOBE where I know for a fact, I can not only contribute but learn as well.
We’ve met as a class twice now and I have already learned a great deal, but one of the topics that has really stuck out to me was poverty. I used to use the term “poor people” to refer to individuals living in poverty, but Dr. Sama told us about a woman who once corrected her when she made the mistake of calling people “poor.” She said that it wasn’t right to call these individuals poor because they are rich in other aspects of their lives, such as culture and family. That is something I will never forget because it holds a lot of truth. After listening to stories about some of the borrowers’ lives, it’s clear that these individuals are resilient and are not held back by their living conditions. In fact, they yearn for resources that will help lift themselves up. Through GLOBE, we’re capable of offering these resources to our borrowers and I think that’s one of the biggest reasons I wanted to join GLOBE. I went from knowing little to nothing about Microfinance to finding it as an incredible tool we can use to help alleviate poverty. It’s a cycle that can not only help an individual, but a whole community as well. I read somewhere that microfinance is like a ladder that helps people move up and out of poverty and I think that’s a perfect description. It’s incredible to think that something as little as $44 can make someone's life just a little bit better.
I’ve most definitely lost that doubt and nervousness that sat in the back of my brain before starting this semester. There’s so much we can do through GLOBE, and I hope to work my hardest to impact the lives of others in any way, shape, or form.
Marketing and Fundraising Team
By: Ignacio Prieto
My first three GLOBE classes have been magnificent. Just after entering the first class and taking a seat, I could see the excitement on everyone’s faces, excited to get started and start making an impact on the world. Hearing about the topic of microfinance was extremely eye-opening during the first class. It was something of which I had very little knowledge, but that I am understanding better and better every class.
We just completed our first reading assignment on the book Banker to the Poor, “Chapter 3.” It was the perfect opportunity to share with the class some of the insights and highlights that stood out to my group. For example, Muhammad Yunus was named the Head of the Economics Department at Chittagong University, and the first idea that came to mind was helping the village surrounding the university’s campus. He wrote a statement on famine and was even able to get it signed by well-respected vice chancellor Abul Fazal. Yunus started the Chittagong University Rural Development Project (C.U.R.D.P.) and gave his students the opportunity to apply some of the knowledge they gained in class into real world cases. I could immediately see the applications to what we have been learning in class. Yunus was helping the farmers with their crops just as we help entrepreneurs in GLOBE. Yunus also gets paid back with 1/3 of their harvest. Just like Yunus’s loans, there is risk involved with our loans, but we must maximize our efforts to ensure that the loans get paid back in a timely manner and that ultimately, the business is going to be successful.
I think the readings and the different discussions, presentations, and videos we have seen in class have already expanded my knowledge on microfinance and poverty. Like I mentioned in my discussion post, I think my perception of poverty has changed significantly and I think it might change even more after this semester. I am also really absorbing every topic discussed in class, but I am fascinated by the impact that microfinance can have on small communities and the borrowers we are able to help through GLOBE. It was wonderful to see the different videos made by previous GLOBE classes where we could learn about previous borrowers and fellowship trips the program did in prior years. It was very insightful and remarkable to hear all the stories Dr. Sama remembers from the different trips.
I think this GLOBE class is very talented and that we have some great ideas. I think this semester will be one to remember for GLOBE, as we transition back to in-person learning. All the members are excited and ready to get to work.
Technology and Communications Team
By: Jackson Geddes
Where to start. I can’t believe we are already going into our third week of class. When I first heard of GLOBE, it was through a friend at the end of last semester. Almost immediately it caught my attention, and I was so excited to apply. I was nervous before my meeting with Dr. Sama and Lina because I felt like I was underprepared in a way. I had researched microfinance and GLOBE prior to our meeting, but still felt I had so much to learn. The meeting went great, and I was so thrilled when I received the email from Dr. Sama saying that I would be a GLOBE manager!
My expectations going into our first class were all over the place. I felt like other students were more qualified than me, and I had to play catch up even before we met in person. I can now confidently say that I feel so happy with my decision to be in this program, and that I was worrying for no reason at all. As it is only our third week together, I know there is still much to learn, but I have absolutely loved working with my team. From making our team goals, to getting together and meeting throughout the week, it has been such a great experience so far. Having an opportunity to help these entrepreneurs is so exciting and I can’t wait to see the positive changes in their lives by giving them loans with which to start their own businesses.
Our first oral presentation last week was on the work of Muhammad Yunus and his book, Creating a World Without Poverty. We read about the implementation of cell phones in Bangladesh, as well as microcredit and his insights on a social business. It was a fascinating read, even if it was only 10 pages in Chapter 4. I thoroughly enjoyed working on our first presentation, and it all went so well. My favorite aspect of the chapter we read was how much of it connected to GLOBE and what we want to accomplish here. It has only been a few weeks, but I feel that I am learning so much each day, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the IT team, as well as our class as a whole, in the hopes of providing many loans to these exciting entrepreneurs across the world.
By: Purva Padh
This week, my team and I have been discussing how to move forward with the loan applications. We have also been talking to Dr. Sama about the questions that we have had about our borrowers or their environments in order to complete our risk assessment models, loan amortization tables, and to begin our recommendation drafts. One thing that I am realizing through this process is the importance of frequent communication, without which we would not be able to do our tasks properly. Whether it is asking questions to my teammates or Dr. Sama, I realized that I have to stop worrying if the question is too trivial or too obvious to ask, because it can lead to crucial information being missed. Another thing I realized while working on the loan application was the necessity of coming up with the right questions and to really look into every little detail to notice if something does not look right. The more things I questioned because I stumbled upon them by chance, the more I found out how important those seemingly “little” things were.
Apart from the loan process, something that I really thought about was the conditions that our borrowers are living in. Because we have five team members as well as five loan applications so far, we decided to split it up with one loan each. I am currently overseeing a borrower from Vietnam, who needs a loan for a vehicle in order to be able to continue her job and provide for her family. What I had not realized was that the strict 12-hour curfew in Vietnam due to COVID-19 is still going on, and people are not allowed to leave their houses outside of the designated time. Because there is such little time for people to keep up with their professional and personal lives, productivity is quite low, and people are struggling. Many have lost their jobs due to COVID, not just in Vietnam, but worldwide.
It got me thinking how everywhere we go, we can see that small businesses have suffered the most, and how important it is to support and try to save the small businesses that are still left today. It inspired me to try and get our borrowers their loans as fast as possible so that they can resume their lives or have the chance for a fresh start, whether the money is going to support their business venture or simply to support them and their family during these trying times. I asked myself, did all of these people really deserve such terrible hardships? The answer is probably no, but while none of us can actually do anything about the pandemic except for trying to keep ourselves safe, what we can do is continue trying our best each day, because what else is there to life if we don’t fight for ourselves?
By: Holly Gola
Being able to meet with some of the former GLOBE managers was super helpful to my team. We were not only able to go more in depth on their objectives from past semesters, but we were able to share our objectives and hear tips that can help our team succeed. The managers from this past Spring semester recommended setting a clear meeting time outside of class to work on the bulk of our objectives together, and this is something my team realized would be the most beneficial for us. I realized communication and teamwork is extremely important to complete our goals, and it has been really nice to get closer with my team.
Meeting with the former managers also helped me feel just how passionate each member had become about GLOBE during their time with the class. Almost every manager expressed how GLOBE was one of the best classes they had taken at St. John’s, and it made me even more happy to be sitting there in front of them (virtually)! I love hearing how impactful our work is for our borrowers and how rewarding it is to be behind the scenes.
Lastly, the M-KOPA Solar video we watched in class really opened my eyes to how different resources are spread across the world. While lighting is not only an ordinary commodity in America, but almost expected when walking into a room, it is devastating to see how the people of Kenya and many rural areas in Asia have relied on kerosene lamps despite their health and environmental drawbacks. Though it still takes a person in Kenya almost a year to pay off a single light, it is amazing to see companies like M-KOPA providing these essential products for the “underbanked.”
By: Valentina Manciameli
This past class not only eased my worries and concerns as a new GLOBE manager but also showed me how caring and hardworking past and current GLOBE managers are. The other managers and I met and discussed with past GLOBE managers via Zoom in the classroom. Seeing how ecstatic everyone was to offer their help and guidance, as well as seeing Dr. Sama reminded me how rewarding GLOBE is for everyone involved. Also, it felt as if all the past managers were sitting in the classroom with us instead of talking to us virtually because of their encouraging words.
Meeting with past managers reassured my team and I that everything we’d like to do is plausible and doable as long as we stay focused and keep our objectives and borrowers in mind. Even if we can’t accomplish every objective, it’s best to put our efforts into the objectives we are truly passionate about and to which we can devote ourselves 100 percent. This served as a reminder to me that I would rather put all my efforts into ideas I'm truly passionate about instead of just finishing a task halfheartedly to meet a deadline. Although I would like to complete every objective we have submitted, I won't beat myself up if everything isn't completed, as long as I know my team and I did our best and fully applied ourselves and our abilities to help the borrowers.
Again, I appreciate how helpful and encouraging the past GLOBE managers were in our meeting. Hearing the positive reactions and constructive criticisms of the Marketing team's objectives makes me excited to improve and work together on planning the fundraising events and creating the GiveCampus campaign. This class reminded me of the importance of teamwork and communicating with others to ensure we complete our objectives and see results. I am excited to work alongside the fellow GLOBE managers, not just on the Marketing team but with the rest of my classmates as well, to enhance and build a stronger GLOBE family.
By: Sara Gowen
Wow. What a remarkable program. Every single day I’m still in awe of where I currently am, and what a privilege it feels like to be a part of GLOBE. This past week, we’d been able to meet with previous GLOBE managers of various semesters, who all had answered the call from Dr. Sama for a chance to give back to the program, even though some of them had graduated years prior. It was truly unbelievable how so many students had been more than willing to hop on a call and share their experiences, their insights, and everything they learned, to give the current teams some more foundation, giving new managers the necessary tools to continue what they’d started. Hearing everyone’s enthusiasm and excitement was just so contagious. I never wanted it to end.
Speaking with some of the former managers of the Technology and Communications team was both an insightful learning experience and gave so much validation to all that we’d experienced so far. GLOBE can be a whirlwind, a fun ride that sweeps you up. You have so many ideas of what you could do to leave your mark, and improve what you can, but with such little time. Already, almost a month has gone by, and it still feels like we only began this journey yesterday. All the former managers gave such good advice, like using an excel sheet as a master key for a posting schedule for organization, how to itemize our objectives while not overburdening ourselves, examples of what they’d wanted to accomplish but couldn’t, and what they’d loved to see now. It was like most of the burning questions I’d had on how to attack certain issues or problems I’d run into thus far were answered. Their advice really was invaluable.
One of the things that left such an impact on me was seeing two former GLOBE managers interact, from different semesters, where one gave the other advice and extended themself in aiding their job search, with no hesitation. To see two former GLOBE managers, who I don’t believe knew each other very well, helping each other with something so important, really cemented what everyone had been saying. GLOBE really was a family, and it extended way beyond the classroom, and much longer than just the few months you get to be an active participant. It was wonderful to see and reminded me of a quote I’m fond of, “lift as you climb.” As simple as it may seem, it really is a rarity to see in most places. It really showed me just how much GLOBE lived up to its core values, and what a wonderful network of people of which I was now a part.
In meeting with them, I’d become even more confident in all the work that I’d done thus far and felt even more prepared for the future, including all the challenges that may lie ahead. I’d begun to feel even more of a sense of belonging and I can’t wait to see what the journey brings.
By: Valentina Mendez
This week showed me aspects of Microfinance I had not yet considered. It was shocking to me to see how Microfinance is impacting and empowering female communities beyond just business matters. After seeing this video of communities on the other side of the world, I could not believe that Microfinance could also inspire change within their social structures. I was shocked at the change in how they were seen, treated, and respected by their husbands, to the point that it helped them avoid situations of abuse. This is something I did not expect to be hearing as a positive externality from microcredit and it’s something that has empowered me to do the best I can to approve loans when appropriate. I now understand that the implications go beyond the economic benefit they can provide. This has also helped me guide the focus for my position paper since I want to work on women empowerment, and this has shed new light on this topic. This has also led me to reflect on what I study in my major classes and how economic analyses I am taught to perform should consider these factors even more consistently. This is something that comes with policy design, business operations, and corporate social responsibility.
In terms of other new topics that were introduced in GLOBE this week, I consider that the ethical aspect of Microfinance is one of which I had never thought of the negative side. When you start reading about Microfinance you kind of idealize it a bit without considering malpractices from different entities that may actually harm borrowers even more. This is something my team and I have definitely been taking into account as we develop our loan recommendations. We have understood that there are considerations beyond those posted in the application, like age and health concerns. I believe this to be essential in making Microfinance ethical and understanding when the lowering of interest rates or the extension of payback periods are necessary. I have also recognized the importance of being audited, something for which I did not completely understand the need, when starting GLOBE. This is a way to be aware of what we are doing and to be held accountable for the decisions we make and why we make them. I consider this part of the reflecting process for experiential learning an imperative, since we are working with a vulnerable population.
Enterprise Development and Program Impact Audits Team
By: Greggy Charles
This past week, I have really enjoyed learning more and more about Microfinance. Microfinance institutions help their customers protect against financial loss, as these organizations provide loans mostly under joint payment liabilities to share the risk, to a large extent, between different members. Microfinance is a banking service provided to unemployed, low-income individuals, or groups who otherwise would have no other access to financial services. Microfinance allows people to take on affordable small business loans safely and in a manner that is consistent with ethical lending practices. Most Microfinancing operations occur in developing nations, such as Uganda, Indonesia, Serbia, and Honduras. Like conventional lenders, Microfinanciers charge interest on loans and institute specific repayment plans.
The World Bank estimates that more than 500 million people have directly or indirectly benefited from Microfinance-related operations. The benefits of Microfinance extend beyond the direct effects of giving people a source for capital. Entrepreneurs who create successful businesses in turn create jobs, trade, and overall economic improvement within a community. It is also crucial for individual development. In many instances, people seeking help from Microfinance organizations are first required to take an introductory money-management class. Lessons cover understanding interest rates, the concept of cash flow, how financing agreements and savings accounts work, how to budget, and how to manage debt. Once educated, customers may apply for loans. Just as one would find at a traditional bank, a loan officer helps borrowers with applications, oversees the lending process, and approves loans.
By: Delia Looby
This week was a very good week in GLOBE. I feel as the weeks go on and the more research I do after class, I have so much pride in being in this program. I really appreciate how my group and I have started coming up with new ideas that play a role in the legacy we plan to leave for GLOBE managers and leaders to come. My group and I had a good sit-down conversation with Lina, who plays a major role in our success in GLOBE. She helped us formulate and propose ideas for public safety for our “Colors of the GLOBE” event which is set to take place in a few weeks. In terms of being in the classroom with Dr. Sama, things have been great. I appreciate how passionate she is about the subject she teaches because whether she knows it or not, it motivates the rest of the class. Although the semester seems to be going by a bit slow at times, Dr. Sama makes sure our time is occupied, in a good way, and makes sure we’re working towards our goals. Our objectives after weeks of editing are almost at the stage of perfection, and it makes sense why they needed to constantly be edited. When having objectives, they have to fit every scenario because each person that participates and takes out a loan is very unique. Therefore, our objectives must reflect that versatility and be achievable by any means necessary.
Outside of the class, I feel like the skills I had to learn and implement each week are helping me receive a better perception of why my major is important in the microfinancing world. My major of International Management plays the role of making sure morals are being respected and things are fair, etc. In microfinancing, managers have to consider how the borrowers live and interpret their reasons for applying for a loan, making sure they’re justifiable. I think as time continues, I’ll be able to fully incorporate what I’ve learned regarding my career into this class. I am excited for what is to come. I’m proud of my team and myself thus far.
One of the best things I’ve been able to enjoy about GLOBE so far has been the professional and rewarding environment that this program gives to its participants. I’ve sent more emails in this past week than I have sometimes during a month in past semesters, and I believe I’ve mastered how to write an email professionally, which is a great skill to have. This past week, the Marketing and IT teams both met virtually with Scott VanDeusen, a member of the steering committee, to get feedback on our objectives, and his opinion on our ideas. Meeting with him was so rewarding and gave us a great look at our team’s objectives and everything we hoped to accomplish, and he was really receptive to our ideas. He also helped us hone and perfect our idea of doing a couple giveaways for the semester to increase our social media engagement, which came from my teammate Jackson. Meeting with Scott really helped put our ideas into motion, and it set the stage for everything that we wanted to accomplish, while also giving us the tools and resources to complete these tasks.
My relationship with my creativity has also become even stronger, more so than I’d hoped for the entirety of this semester. I’ve had moments over the course of years past where I felt as though I lacked creativity and the ability to think outside of a box that academia has created, that I previously felt as though I had to fit into. Even at previous work experiences, in positions where my creativity was a crucial part of a project’s success, I felt stifled or that my ability to create was taken away, and that I had no control over my work and what I created. I was nervous or apprehensive to take on aspects of what it took to be on the Technology and Communications team, and I wasn’t sure if I felt up to the task. If these past few weeks have shown me anything, it’s that I love creating. I love making posts for GLOBE, creating themes, and putting my all into making something. GLOBE has given me back the confidence I’d lost in my ability to create, and it’s given me my passion for doing so.
My team, as always, continues to be fantastic. I really enjoy working with Sal and Jackson, and we have a great group dynamic that works so well in transference to everything we try to accomplish for our socials. What I appreciate the most is the mutual respect for everyone and their ideas on my team, and how that translates to how much work we put into our projects. Before GLOBE, I hadn’t really been a huge fan of group work, since there could be issues with members not doing their fair share, not being communicative. The problems that could arise are endless. I was anxious of that coming into GLOBE but given how my group has only continued to work well together, I had nothing to worry about.
I truly love and enjoy this program, so much that I can’t stop talking about it. All of my friends and family have listened to me talk about nothing but GLOBE over the past few weeks, which is something that’s not likely to change for the rest of the semester. I can’t wait to see what next week brings!
By: Jack Jacobi
During this past week I have been accruing some one-time purchases such as Halloween costume supplies and things in preparation for my birthday. They are all things that I could easily live without. However, I purchased them regardless. These frivolous purchases take me back to something that I have thought about since my early childhood when listening to passages from the New Testament. I recall Jesus mentioning to give freely of essentially everything that you can if it can be of benefit to someone else. This instilled in me at an early age a sense of “Catholic guilt” because I struggled with the fact that I had my needs provided for, while there were people who did not have food, housing, or anyone to remind them that they mattered.
Since participating in GLOBE, I am once again being confronted by poverty on a regular basis in a way that does not allow me to desensitize myself to it. Every time I purchase something that I do not deem to be absolutely necessary, I feel as if I am hurting the less fortunate because I am foregoing the opportunity to help someone in some way with the money spent on whatever purchase. Even if I did embrace an ascetic lifestyle and forego every fleeting earthly pleasure so that I could give to others, it would only go so far to help. However, as discussed in class today in regard to social entrepreneurs, there is a way to reimagine the whole fishing industry, so to speak. Now I would like to dedicate more of my time to changing the proverbial fishing industry. I only worry about my motivation for this cause.
Not to get too deep in the weeds on the philosophy, but I feel as if my intentions might not be pure even if I want to help others. They might be selfish because I want to help others to somehow placate the guilt that I feel for their suffering. This is another thought that I have had since my childhood that is rooted in the Catechism. I used to spend more time wondering if people acting holy because they fear eternal damnation can actually be considered holy. As I have gotten older, however, I no longer care why people do what they do, so long as it is for the benefit of others. Since nobody can read minds, nobody will ever truly know someone’s intentions behind their actions for certain.
This week I took what Dr. Sama always says, “Talk about GLOBE each and every time you have the chance to,” and ran with it! I can’t stop talking about the amazing opportunity I have received by being a part of an inspirational and impactful class. During my theology class, we were discussing the meaning of “The Kingdom of God,” which led to the idea that this kingdom is on Earth and believers are meant to act in the way of Jesus through actions of love and compassion, especially towards the most vulnerable in our society. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to share the mission of GLOBE and encourage those in the class to check out the website or even donate. I explained the microloans we provide to the poorest people as we intend to alleviate poverty through entrepreneurship. Relating specifically to the focus of the class, I mentioned our affiliation with the Daughters of Charity who help us tremendously by connecting us to potential borrowers. This discussion in itself helped me to reflect on our impact and the weight of our mission. As I learn more about my faith and intend to live in a more fulfilling and giving way, I am using the values and knowledge I gain from the GLOBE class to start a similar project in the future. More specifically, I hope to start my own business in the future and dedicate a portion of the profit to microfinance whether that be a fund similar to GLOBE or a financial literacy initiative. This is why I am so excited to meet and hear Evan talk about his own business and social impact! I am most interested in the process of a social business as a part of a whole business and the ways in which these are conducted, specifically in the United States.
I also had the opportunity to speak about our class with my internship managers. We have weekly meetings in which all the managers and staff of the risk management department give updates on our lives and work. Every week my manager asks me about school and this week I explained the concept of our class along with the fact that we have our own fund made possible through donations. My manager found this so interesting, it led to a whole group discussion on microfinance. I felt as though this conversation starter allowed me to start an educational discussion and showed me what a professional side discussion truly is. Hopefully from that discussion we will have a few new donors!
All in all, pushing myself to speak about the class and its great impact on others has made me realize I truly enjoy the work we do! I look forward to the possibility of building on what I have learned here to impact more people in the future!
And I thought last week was busy.
This week beats the last, mostly because of midterms and all that fun stuff, but my team and I have managed to find some time in our busy and complicated schedules to meet up and talk about our other objectives. We’re definitely progressing, which is great, but I feel like time is flying by. I don’t want my semester with GLOBE to end just yet.
Tonight, we had a guest speaker in class, Evan, who is a former GLOBE manager and St. John’s alumni. It was so cool and inspiring to hear about his journey post-GLOBE and college. These past few days I’ve been thinking about my future, and it’s been so nerve-wracking to even think about. After this semester, I only have one more left and then out into the “real world” I go. To be honest, I have no idea what I’m doing. When I was sitting there, listening to Evan speak so excitedly and passionately about his own achievements, I realized that the main goal isn’t scoring a nine to five. Yes, it would be nice to have that right after I graduate, but it shouldn’t be my number one priority. Finding something I have passion for (as cliché as it sounds) should be the main goal. This class has taught me that it’s not impossible to give back to communities while simultaneously making profit. I can work with the things I learn in class and use them to help communities around the world. Now that’s a job.
I think I’ll always rave about GLOBE to everyone I meet because I know for a fact, I will learn lessons that I can carry on for the rest of my life. It’s not just a class where we have homework and tests every week, rather it’s somewhere where we’re not only making an impact in the lives of others, but an impact in our own lives as well.
This week has been hectic due to midterm exams, but GLOBE has been on the top of my list, as the Colors of GLOBE tie-dye event has been finalized for October 25th. Since it has been finalized, I created a flyer with Lina in order to promote the event coming up in the following weeks. My team and I are very excited to further plan the behind-the-scenes and full details of the event, and we’re positive the event will be successful in raising funds and attention for GLOBE. I’m confident the event will be a hit and could become an event for future GLOBE managers to plan and look forward to. My team and I are also discussing the GiveCampus campaign and narration, although we are a little behind schedule with planning GiveCampus due to planning the Colors of GLOBE event. My team and I are still working together to determine the best campaign narrative.
This week has shown me how important working alongside your team members is and communicating with them to ensure every aspect or idea is considered and discussed. While working on the first copy of the flyer, there were some details I included that I wasn’t sure would be read well by St. John’s students who aren’t already aware of GLOBE. For example, as a GLOBE manager, I know we are hosting the event to raise funds for our campaign, but I forgot to include the fact that the price of the ticket goes towards the cost of materials and the rest towards a donation to our borrowers. Communicating and working with the other Marketing team members brought this issue to light, and we were able to update the flyer to include a sentence about GLOBE. This also served as a reminder that I have to consider other perspectives, not just my own, as we want to ensure everyone has the chance to learn about and support GLOBE as a program. This also applies to other areas of my life as I have to remember nobody else sees the world the exact same way as I do, everyone has their own priorities and their own way of thinking that sets us all apart. With this being said, I am excited to further work on the fundraising events this semester and can’t wait to see other St. John’s students’ reactions and participation in the Colors of GLOBE tie-dye event.
This past week we did our second oral reading summary of the semester, where we discussed social business and the value of infrastructure. We had done well on our first presentation, and that gave us the confidence to take the feedback we’d been given and put it into practice. The subject matter we presented was very interesting in itself, and I found it fascinating to read more about how social entrepreneurship and the empowerment of people within poverty-ridden communities can really transform an entire town. It was also interesting to learn about the process of poverty and escaping poverty, since usually the subject is treated with a certain level of reproach, and people living in poverty are often not treated as equals. They are treated as people who are not worth knowing, and written off by some, mainly those in power, because of their current situations. Local governments, even when they’re trying to help, can hinder at times, since they fail to consider that these people have any skills at all, and try to put them in programs that never find success. The key is to build upon what they already know. Reading this, I was shocked. To have taboo feelings around poverty so perfectly put into words was an eye-opener. People don’t talk about this subject in ways that come across with compassion and a desire to help. Most of the time, they are only there to judge and make themselves seem more charitable, by saving face. It reminds me of an informational show I used to watch, and in an episode regarding charity and giving, people were willing to give everything but the thing people in poverty really needed- money.
The presentation itself I’d say went well, but I was disappointed in my public speaking skills. Usually, I have no problem presenting in front of a class, but this time I was stuttering a lot, and experiencing problems with breath control, which was perplexing until I woke up the next day and realized I was sick. With midterms and lots of deadlines to meet, needless to say, it’s been a very hectic week. For GLOBE, we’ve been able to stay on top of our posting schedule over the past week, as we’ve been trying to keep all socials as active as possible, in order to spread the GLOBE message and keep engagement high. I believe our efforts have had their benefits, as we’ve gained almost thirty followers since we’ve taken over the accounts and counting.
GLOBE also had its first info session yesterday, which I believe went well, since all four of our attendees followed us on our social medias after the session. They definitely held an even stronger interest in GLOBE after learning more about it, which I couldn’t be happier about. I personally cannot seem to stop talking about GLOBE, and a friend who attended yesterday’s info session couldn’t wait to apply for the spring class. While we hadn’t had as many attendees as I’d originally hoped, I remain positive and hopeful for a bigger turnout at the next one, which will be after the tie-dye event. I’m hoping that event will create a bigger interest in GLOBE. One trend I’m noticing is how little information people have about GLOBE, and how so many don’t know it exists on campus. It’s astounding, and a problem I want to tackle even further for the rest of the semester. Overall, leaving this chaotic week, I’m feeling determined and hopeful for the future.
This was a climatic week for all of us, with the Steering Committee meeting where we had to present the loans to them to either be approved or denied. I have to say I was quite nervous, as I, like anyone else, wanted the loans to be approved. I thought of all the hard work that we put into the loan recommendations and all of the hope that our borrowers must have been holding onto. I felt like we should do our absolute best to get those loans to them so that they can begin their business venture or obtain a vehicle for transportation. I could not be happier to have gotten these loans approved, and it feels so relieving to know that we succeeded, with all of our hard work and late nights paying off. In fact, it feels so good that I wish we had more loans to approve but since we do not, I hope that we get more loans, if possible, this semester.
Another thing that I am happy about is the things that I am learning. After learning about both poverty and climate change as sustainable development goals (SDGs). Having seen poverty growing up, ever since I was a kid, I had always wanted to do something about it, whether that was to be a part of my job when I grew up or being successful enough so that I could provide some funds and relief to the poor. However, in recent years our climate conditions have worsened so much that I have been wanting to do something about that before it becomes irreversible. It breaks my heart to watch or read the news everyday only to see our beautiful planet dying because of our own actions. For a while, these issues of poverty and climate change weighed heavily on me because I did not know what to do and after all, I am still a teenager. But what I have learned recently is that poverty and climate change are actually quite interconnected. When I attended the UN’s International Day of the Eradication of Poverty webinar, I realized how important it is to work on sustainable solutions for our climate in order to alleviate poverty in a sustainable way as well, and that one cannot be done without the other. It made me realize how we do not need to choose an issue to focus on, but that as long as we try to make the world a better place through any means, it will eventually become a better place. This has inspired me to research about these topics, learn more about them, and determine what people can do to help. Being a part of GLOBE has once again made me realize that I am on the right path, and it feels even better to know that I am doing what I love while making a positive impact.
Evan Dittig’s presentation on his company Shred.co was amazing! Hearing how passionate Evan was about GLOBE, his first taste for global outreach, and how he had transitioned some of those same values into his own company on a global scale was so fascinating and impactful. Aside from hearing all about the amazing work he has done regarding global social impact projects, I was really inspired to see that creating his own skateboarding business was not his first instinct right out of college. I feel as though I have been constantly changing the area of focus I want to study and the career I want to pursue as I take different classes at St. John’s, learning more about different career paths. But Evan really gave me some ease to think that no matter what I actually end up doing with my future, I will still be able to do something that I am passionate about and something worthwhile for others.
This week has also been quite productive for my team, as we met in person and were able to finalize some data regarding previous defaulted loans. When first adding the objective to assess trends on GLOBE’s written-off loans, my team and I had thought there would be numerous accounts to go through. There were only 29… out of 217… and 16 defaults were from 2011-2012. That was INCREDIBLE to find out! I knew our defaulted loan rate was low but could not believe how low it actually came out to be. These numbers just really enforced the concept that our loans are going to some amazing borrowers who are able to produce great businesses and repay the loan for another person to utilize!
Looking back to our 7th week of class it was probably one of the classes that I enjoyed the most. We had the wonderful opportunity to have a guest speaker, who was a previous GLOBE manager. Honestly, I was not expecting to get a lot of this presentation, as skating has never been one of my hobbies, I must also say that I am terrible with balancing on a skateboard. When Evan started talking about his company Shred.Co and how his dream started, he got my attention right away. Shred.Co is a skateboard instructional program that offers personal lessons to learn how to skate with what Evan refers to as “therapeutical skate clinics,” but the company also focuses on global outreach missions providing kids around the globe with sneakers and even skateboards. I found it crazy to believe that the idea of Shred.Co got inspiration from GLOBE, a program that I am lucky to be a part of. The sense of a global community and the sense of helping the poorest of the poor shines through Shred.Co.
The presentation in itself was also amazing and kept everyone engaged for the whole time. It included information but also promotional videos that perfectly captured the mission of the company. It was very inspiring to listen to Evan speak about Shred.Co. You could tell how much passion and work that he has put into the company, as well as the ambition he has to keep the company growing to help as many people as possible through skateboarding.
Evan has also inspired me to explore ways to help others in my future business endeavors. I have always thought about being an entrepreneur and starting my own company. If I did that, I would love to get the chance to do something similar to what Shred.Co is doing or even work directly with Shred.Co. I believe we can all make a positive impact one person at a time.
When my team (Marketing) and the IT team had a meeting a couple days after class, we all agreed that it would be great to include Evan in our Give Campus Campaign video, “Small Change, Big Difference”. We want to shine light on the impact the program has not only on the lives of our borrowers and their communities, but also on our managers. Evan is a great example on the impact GLOBE has on our lives, and how through Shred.Co he is leaving a positive impact in the world. We are planning to contact Evan soon to include some clips he had in his presentation and a small clip of him speaking to the camera. So excited to get the chance to work with him!
Tonight, we have our midterm exam. It feels surreal to even think we are about halfway through the semester already. I have absolutely loved every minute of GLOBE, and it has been a blast working alongside Sara and Sal. We feel as with each week that passes, we get an even stronger grasp on our goals and objectives. This upcoming week, we have a very exciting tie-dye event on the 25th. I can’t wait to see everyone come out and support GLOBE, and it was so cool being able to work with marketing on this project. We also have another info. session coming up on the 28th, and I am excited to meet any students interested in joining GLOBE in the spring!
I thought I would be a little nervous about the test tonight, but I feel really confident about my capabilities which is a nice change as opposed to the beginning of the semester in GLOBE. Dr. Sama has taught us so much interesting information on the world of microfinance and all that it entails. I have found myself learning new things each class which has helped me gain a better understanding of why we do this and how beneficial it can be to people all around the world.
Meeting Evan last week was also very cool. His business is amazing, and I really appreciated how he said he really wasn’t sure what he wanted to do upon graduation. With that, he asked himself what he was passionate about. That kickstarted his career and he is now making such a big difference in the communities in which “Shred.Co” operates.
By: Ajay Ghingoor
As I have been looking more and more into my position paper topic on the Impacts of Covid-19 on Microfinance in Central America, it is becoming more evident how crucial our impact is on borrowers.
As I have been researching, I have found that Microfinance has grown a lot in Central America since 2013, with the percentage of people taking out bank credits rising each year. However, the sudden pandemic had a drastic effect on borrower safety as well as their ability to sustain economic stability. This has led to people in Central America adapting by finding different financial coping strategies.
GLOBE is working actively to be another financial coping strategy for these people. Throughout GLOBE’s lifespan, over a hundred borrowers have had the opportunity to take out smalls loans to further their economic development. It is our job as GLOBE managers to provide these services to any applicable borrowers because Microfinance in these areas is essential to borrowers now more than ever, due to Covid-19. It is amazing to see how far GLOBE has developed since its start-up. It leads me to think that in another 10-20 years, the GLOBE program can possibly be its own entity if it continues at this rate. With a bigger fund to distribute loans and sustaining the core values of GLOBE, it has the potential to be a Microfinance Institution for nonprofit in the purest form.
By: Sean Bagasevich
After taking the midterm it is shocking to me that GLOBE is more than halfway through the semester. Being halfway through the semester, I decided to take a step back and reflect on what GLOBE has meant to me and how I look to continue this course till the end of the semester. GLOBE has been a big step for me because I have never been involved in anything that entailed giving back or volunteer work. I have always wanted to be involved with work like this, but I never took the initial step to accomplish this. I felt like GLOBE was the perfect opportunity for me to do this because I am helping people in need, while running a business to some degree. After joining GLOBE, I wasn’t sure if I would fit or like this type of environment because I had never been in one before. I had been involved with giving back only one time in my life and this was for a day, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, after learning more about GLOBE and microfinance, I knew that GLOBE was the perfect start for me.
GLOBE has been such a great experience for me because of the many different aspects that come together to make GLOBE an impactful class. Starting with the students, getting to know everyone on a personal level and sharing ideas with each other is something that isn’t present in any of the other classes I have taken at St. John’s University. Every student has a vision of what they want to contribute to the class and all these different ideas result in the influence GLOBE has on us. Aside from the students, getting to know the borrowers and what their business operations are like is something that is very meaningful to me. It is almost like we get to know our borrowers on a personal level because each of them brings a unique story or business that is different from the others. Everyone can agree that no two borrowers are the same, as each of them brings something different to the table whether that be their personal life, their financial situation, or what they need the loan for. However, everyone can agree that our borrower’s financial situation isn’t the best, as we are dealing with the poorest of the poor. This is one of the main reasons why I joined GLOBE because I wanted to help the poorest of the poor and observe the impact we have on their business. GLOBE has made me think about the financial services that our borrowers have and what I can do to improve these while I’m in GLOBE and after taking this class. As a finance major, FinTech has been a subject that has been very interesting to me. Throughout the semester, I have been researching the various types of FinTech services that our borrowers have and what I can do to improve on these or incorporate my own. This is something I would like to dive deeper into after this class and possibly pursue a related career in the future. It is astonishing to me that only halfway through the semester GLOBE can have this impact on me in terms of where I would like to position my career. This type of impact is what I had hoped to achieve when joining GLOBE and I am excited to see where this impact will take me in the future.
The colors of GLOBE event was a success! The marketing team and I ended up hitting our goal of raising $400, we couldn’t have done it without help from the rest of the GLOBE managers and support from Dr. Sama and Lina. There were a lot of new faces at the event, I talked to a few underclassmen who hadn’t heard of GLOBE before the event, but were encouraged to come because they liked the idea of being able to tie-dye a shirt and being creative. I am happy to have had such a great turnout and see that our efforts to plan the event were successful. Bringing awareness to GLOBE is an important part of GLOBE’s success and as part of the marketing team, I want more students to recognize it when they see the flyers around campus. Being able to see the results of our hard work is a rewarding feeling, especially since I know our efforts are going towards bettering the lives of our borrowers through our fundraisers.
Planning the event was a great learning experience and I know I will be able to apply the experience towards other aspects of my life, especially towards my future career and work life. I have been reminded of the importance of teamwork and how important it is to communicate with your teammates. I am appreciative of the moments when my team and I are on the same page and are zoned in to focus on fixing a problem and discussing the best course of action to see results. Besides working with the rest of the marketing team we also worked with the IT team to bring awareness to the event. They made several posts on the GLOBE’s Instagram account to promote it. Working with so many other GLOBE managers has emphasized the importance of cooperation and organization, both are essential to producing results. I feel in the past few weeks my creativity and critical thinking skills have been challenged and put to use and have helped me grow as a person. So far GLOBE has raised my confidence in my skills and abilities that I know I will utilize once I have a career and am working on projects for companies and other important people.
This week was a very busy week, both in and out of GLOBE! I can’t believe that we’re already halfway through the semester, as it still feels as though it were September, and to think it’s nearly Halloween. Time management was always one of the number one things stressed to keep in mind by previous GLOBE managers, but I never thought that we’d be flying through half a semester in the blink of an eye. The time has come where we must put those time management skills to work, as the Technology and Communications team are starting to work the with Marketing and Fundraising team to create the Give Campus video, which should hopefully launch within the next few weeks. We have a vision for the video, since we want to add some testimonials from all different aspects of GLOBE, former managers, current managers, and steering committee members. We’re planning to incorporate these into a video that reflects the theme that our amazing Marketing team has come up with: Small Change, Big Difference. This theme is super cool, or at least I think so since it’s so multifaceted. There’s so much to work with in terms of content creation, and the fundraising campaign itself. The title can be in reference to a small donation and how big a difference that donation can make on a borrower’s life, or it can also mean that a small change that you make in your life or using something you’ve learned from GLOBE and incorporating that into your business or everyday life, and what a big difference that can have on you, and the rest of the world. The possibilities are endless!
Last week we had our midterm assessment, which I felt I did well on, and it was validating to see how much I’d learned and grown through my GLOBE experience so far, and how excited I was by what I was learning, since all of the information was familiar, and also just interesting. In addition to our midterm last week, the Technology and Communications team was working hard with the Marketing and Fundraising team to plan and perfect GLOBE’s first big fundraiser of the semester, the “Colors of GLOBE” event, where for $10 and an Instagram follow, participants could tie-dye a GLOBE shirt and would get entered in a giveaway to win a GLOBE bag and an Amazon gift card. Planning the event, creating content for it, and advertising it around campus by putting up flyers with Valentina, and posting the event over all our socials was such a fun experience. Attending and working the event was so much fun! It was even more than I’d hoped it would be, since it was great to be working under the GLOBE banner, and talking about the program to people around campus, while also hanging out with other GLOBE managers from both our current class and from years past.
While we have some work ahead of us in the next few weeks, I’m excited to see what the future brings!
As we enter the final weeks of the fall semester, I have been reflecting more on what makes GLOBE different from my other courses this semester, past courses, and the courses for which I enrolled next semester. An example of how GLOBE is different is the reconfiguration of the macroenvironment factors scale for our loan recommendation assessments. In many of my classes at St. John’s, we work either with qualitative or quantitative data in a nearly exclusive manner. There have been exceptions to this rule, however. I remember Professor Chebly stressing the importance of remembering the real-world impacts of the numbers we were measuring in my Economics of Poverty and Income Inequality class. GLOBE feels similar in this regard.
We are reconfiguring the macroenvironment factors scale because quantitative data allows most of us to see and understand the world more easily and in a more objective way most of the time. I have a family friend who began his PhD fellowship in economics at the University of Cal Berkley this year. He has always understood the world around him through numbers. In elementary school, he used to count the tiles on the classroom wall. Then, extrapolating from the number of tiles on a classroom wall, he would use this information to figure out the area of the school building. Now his exhibition of a human tendency to reduce oftentimes complicated subjects to numbers might be taken to an extreme degree. However, it demonstrates how it is important for us to quantify whenever possible so that we might make clearer judgements.
Concurrently, we must not demote people to just a collection of numbers. This kind of reductive mistake removes the compassion from what we do, and it is that sense of compassion that (in my case at least) motivates me to doing all of this in the first place. This is what sets GLOBE apart from my other courses. In GLOBE, we get the opportunity to balance raw data that is impactful with equally impactful firsthand testimonials from the people on the ground, whether they be the ones experiencing hardship or the Daughter of Charity that is recommending them.
This past week, I was so happy to receive a text from a manager on the Marketing and Fundraising Team asking for my participation in our GiveCampus video and to answer some questions regarding my experience with GLOBE. One of the questions dealt with how GLOBE has changed my perspective on diminishing poverty, and it made me think back to a discussion post I wrote a few weeks ago regarding social business models. Before joining this class, I held the belief that capitalism is rooted in greed. Now, I have fallen in love with the idea of a social market, especially from the perspective of Muhammad Yunus. Social markets consist of businesses that work to provide resources and products at an affordable price to those who would not otherwise have the access. I love how this model reduces the aspect of competition, as packaging and advertising would not be a priority. It cuts out the selfishness of many current companies, and I would truly love to see this idea become a reality in the future. It represents many of the values that GLOBE upholds and that I share. It also produces a sense of solidarity in our world.
Regarding a sense of solidarity, I also want to share the sense of community that I feel with GLOBE. Our GLOBE class is really an amazing support system and working collaboratively with a team every week always makes “work” enjoyable. I have made friends in many of my other classes, but more times than not, it does not move outside the classroom. Besides our members always saying “hi” when we see each other around campus and joking around with each other, one of our GLOBE members also suggested having a “Friendsgiving” prior to our last class before Thanksgiving. This made me so happy to see how comfortable many of us have gotten with each other over the past two months and how great we work together. Shout-out to Dr. Sama for picking such amazing teams!
The last two weeks of GLOBE have been like a roller coaster. We held our first in-person fundraising event called “Colors of GLOBE.” It was a tie-dye event held on the great lawn on October 25th. It was a success! It was amazing to see how many students were not only interested in donating money for a great cause, but also interested in joining GLOBE in the future. The support from previous GLOBE managers was also excellent. They all showed up and we spent hours talking about the program and about future events that we are preparing for the semester. During the event my team and I decided to take a second to admire the hard work and dedication we had put into it. Seeing everyone enjoying it made it all worthwhile. We not only reached our goal of 400 dollars, but we surpassed it! It is a great feeling knowing that the money is being utilized for a great cause.
Last week we did not have class because of All Saints Day. Even though we did not have class, I had the chance to do my Takeover Tuesday on GLOBE’s Instagram. It was very exciting to have the chance to show some of our followers what a day in the life of a GLOBE manager is like and also to interact with them for a day. We even got the chance to get the account to 900 followers! Some people might say it was the best Takeover Tuesday GLOBE has had in a long time, or at least that is what my grandmother said.
During this week, my team and I had the time to schedule a meeting with the IT team and discuss the GiveCampus Campaign. We have all of our ideas in mind, and we have already made arrangements with some current and former GLOBE managers that we want to feature in the video. We want to focus on both the impact the program has on the borrowers and the impact it has on the managers, and how the program has shaped the future careers of many of them. Although the idea is very clear, it has been difficult to put some of these ideas on paper to write the narrative for the campaign. But we are still very excited for it and confident that we will reach our target goal.
Since we did not have class last week, I am truly looking forward to seeing all of my peers during next class and meeting with the Enterprise Development and Auditing Team. We will discuss our progress in the class, as we have completed our first fundraiser.
The past couple weeks have been eventful since GLOBE last met for class. We were able to meet with Sister Mary Louise from the Daughters of Charity last week and interview her for the GiveCampus video, as well as for a podcast. It was a great experience, as she is so knowledgeable about the organization, and it was great to hear her thoughts on working with GLOBE, what she wishes for its future, and how she would like to see it expand. I loved hearing about her time as a Daughter of Charity, especially since she’s been with the organization for several years now, and it was fascinating to hear all her experiences, both in her current role and her time spent in the field internationally. I am impressed by all she’s learned and done. She said she felt like she was doing what she was called to do in life, and that was so wonderful to hear, especially since so few are able to say the same. Her experience with GLOBE and GLOBE managers was also so positive, and I loved hearing her thoughts about being a part of the Steering Committee. Being able to speak with her was a great experience and a wonderful privilege.
We also made stickers to be used as a part of our “GLOBE Giveaway!” this semester. The winners of three different giveaways will all win one hydro flask each, and each hydro flask will come with its very own GLOBE sticker, newly created, and designed. This will both grab attention from people on campus and serve as a subtle way to market the program for potential new managers in future semesters. It might even lead to some new donations. The rest of the team and I are super excited about this, since we’ve been working on it for a long time, and we think we have some good new potential stickers to be used for the giveaways. We can’t wait to see who will win!
We’ve also just finalized our script for the GiveCampus Campaign, so we can really begin the process of creating the video, as opposed to just editing bits and pieces. It really feels like it’s all coming together now, and it’s great to see how the semester has progressed and how much we’ve accomplished in what feels like such a small amount of time. I can’t believe the semester is almost over. It’s also been wonderful to see how we’ve grown as a class, and how we went from all being virtually strangers, to now planning a “Friendsgiving” for the holidays. I’ve met so many incredible people through GLOBE, my amazing team, and other classmates. It’s been such a great ride, and while there’s still more work to do before the semester is over, I already know I’m going to have a hard time saying goodbye.
This was another eventful week with GLOBE, as we have this loan recommendation to complete soon, and are waiting to hear about the other events being planned by the Marketing Team. Since the “Colors of GLOBE” event was so successful, I am eagerly looking forward to another event to enhance the program even more. As I may have mentioned, I love events like these because not only are they amazing for GLOBE, but they also give me a chance to bond with my classmates, and it feels really great to have gotten closer to them. Our class feels more like a family than a class now, and I am really grateful that we get along so well with each other the way that we do. Even at the event it was great talking to previous GLOBE managers because I was able to receive quite valuable advice about my future classes and about my degree, which made me realize that GLOBE is not just about the work that we do, but also about forming connections with others.
One thing I really enjoyed was listening to the guest speaker, Ed Klimek, talk about his journey regarding microfinance and traveling to foreign countries to help aid those in poverty. One thing that really stuck with me was when he discussed how those in the villages that he visited did not just want to possess money or other physical items. They wanted people to revive the area in terms of business activity, so that they could create their own opportunities to build their future themselves, instead of relying on others for donations or other forms of help that are unsustainable. I realized the importance of listening to those in poverty about what they actually need, because we often forget that microfinance or helping the poor in general is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Everyone has different needs, and it is up to each community to decide what they are. This was a great way to approach microfinance because it gave the people in that village a voice, in speaking up to Ed and his team about what they really needed and how they would like to be helped.
It is a word we hear often and usually we don’t realize the power it has. It’s not just a way to sympathize with others, rather it’s more of a psychological sense of unity between individuals. It is a way to fight against social injustices such as poverty, discrimination, unfair labor practices, etc. It is a way we can create change.
After tonight’s class, I can say I have a deeper understanding of solidarity - more specifically, solidarity lending. We had a guest speaker come in and talk about his experiences while working on a Catholic Relief Services program called “Amistad y Fe.” Ed Klimek’s presentation was very interesting and inspiring. Through a partnership with the Parish of Santa Cruz in the diocese of Santa Rosa in Guatemala, he and many others strive to develop a direct and mutually enriching relationship among the people they serve through solidarity lending. Accomplishing this leads to a transformation in individuals and the world in which they live. It creates a giant community of people who encourage each other and each other’s projects. I found myself intrigued when he spoke about some of the people he met in La Morena, Guatemala who have now become close friends of his. Even though I’ve never met him, I felt proud of Santiago Sanchez who was eventually able to move from a small wooden home with tin sheets to a bigger and sturdier house. It is amazing to see that through the continuous empowerment of individuals, there is so much change that can be made: change that has a long-term effect. Empowerment is a major building block of microfinance. What good is microfinance if it doesn’t nurture the ideas and beliefs of a community?
This week was a very good week in GLOBE. My team and I had the opportunity to speak with a previous GLOBE manager, Harmony, about the game night we’re going to be hosting within the next two weeks. This was a very positive thing because Harmony knows exactly what it’s like to feel like a chicken running around with your head cut off. After speaking with her, however, it felt nice to know that we truly aren’t alone in regard to the planning and execution of different events within GLOBE. I think it made me very excited for everything to finally come together because my team and I have worked hard and have improved our communication since last week!
Speaking of seeing positive things, in today’s class we had a guest speaker by the name of Ed Klimek. I found his presentation to be very inspirational and eye-opening. A lot of the things about which he spoke resonated with me and made me excited about how my field of work can contribute to helping others. It really stuck out to me when he mentioned that what we do in these programs is about more than just the money. Support goes a long way and that’s what people truly need. That prompted me to think of when I do community service. It’s a lot more than completing an assignment. It’s seeing a person for who they are and how you can help them. Supporting their endeavors can help them become a better person. That’s why people love to help- because it’s bigger than ourselves. Klimek was a great presenter. He barely read off the slides, comforting yet informative tone and overall, you could tell he really cares about the subject matter. I enjoyed all of the guest speakers we’ve had this semester and I can’t wait for others that come after to experience this as well!
This week has been a crazy week for GLOBE. We’ve spent the time working on the GiveCampus video, where we interviewed Sister Mary Louise, the Enterprise Development team liaison Holly Gola, and former GLOBE manager Abby Guzman. We’ve been interviewing them on their GLOBE experience, and what it’s like from a student perspective, as well as the perspective of a Steering Committee member. We also had Abby describe her experience as a former GLOBE manager, now looking at the program from an outside lens. With all these facets, we hope to create a narrative that is student-oriented, conveying the student perspective of being in GLOBE and what it has done for them in their lives. The perspective of Sister Mary Louise will emphasize how the program has grown and developed over the years. The purpose of the theme is to show that anyone involved with GLOBE has experienced a change in their life, a shift, where they take a piece of GLOBE, and implement it into their daily lives. This, in turn, should get people excited to donate and perhaps become even more involved with the program. We’re also scheduled to interview Evan tomorrow, a meeting for which I’m very excited. I found his presentation so interesting, and it was wonderful to see how GLOBE continues to make such a big impact.
We only have until the end of the week to finish the video, so this is crunch time. Sal has done a great job splicing the videos so far and has begun editing. He is implementing all forms of content that we have into the editing software so that the next time we meet, all the video from the interviews will already be there and some footage from the fellowship trips. All that will be left are the voiceovers. While at first, we were skeptical about the deadlines, I’m confident that we’ll be able to finish the video by the end of the week.
This week we’ve also been in the final stages of having all our sticker designs approved and sent to printing by Scott, so that we’ll be able to host our giveaways soon (something I’m optimistic to get up and running by the end of the week). Overall, it’s been a hectic week, as the semester draws to a close, and we’re rushing to get all our objectives completed, including the video. But I’m confident that we can get there. The more time we all spend together as a class, the closer we become, and I’m so grateful to have the many friendships that GLOBE has given me.
Reflecting on this week, I enjoyed last class because we got the opportunity to listen to another person who shares our intertest in Global Social Justice. During Ed Klimek’s presentation, I thought a few of the amazing ideas used by the Solidarity Lending Program could be implemented into GLOBE. As we strive to improve GLOBE each semester, learning from other social entrepreneurship programs with innovative concepts is helpful and inspiring. The first aspect of the program that I thought would be nice to input is the means of communication: the program uses Skype and Facebook messenger. I believe that even though we might not be able to have monthly meetings with borrowers, but we could do annual updates. The Enterprise Development team could conduct these as part of impact assessment. One point Ed made which stuck with me was that the community in La Morena said they trusted and appreciated that the Queenship of Mary Partnership “always comes back.” The sense of support and consistency in communication would be a great addition to the current GLOBE program, especially during the COVID situation.
Finally, the business plan section of the loan application would be a great addition. Dr. Sama has mentioned that many borrowers would like to start a business, but don’t know what to do. If there was a pamphlet that we gave the Daughters of Charity to distribute to potential borrowers about business types and practices, then the business plan requirement or suggestion would be feasible. This would also give us the opportunity to truly understand their vision!
It was quite fascinating listening to Ed Klimek speak to the class because of the type of impact he is having in Guatemala and the results he has seen since starting his program there. I had never heard of the term “solidarity lending” until he spoke about it and quite honestly, I believe he had a very great point as to why they do solidarity lending. They are trying to build a community out of poverty and not just one specific person.
During Ed’s presentation, he touched upon the fact that they issued shares for investors to buy in order to raise capital for new loans. This was quite fascinating to me because before GLOBE, I had never realized that an investor can directly invest in something that has such a great cause and impact. Before GLOBE, I had figured that an investor would have to buy shares of a company or organization that gives back their profits to a social cause, but not the opportunity to invest in something that is so direct, like what Ed is doing in Guatemala. The impact that this type of investment can have means more than the return on investment for me because the social benefits of this outweigh the return on capital. I feel like this is one of the many changes that I have experienced while being involved in GLOBE. I want to invest in something that I support and believe in. As a finance major, it almost seems like a return on investment or working for a big company one day is drilled into my head as something I must achieve. However, joining GLOBE has made me see the other side of finance, about which I am very grateful to learn because I feel like I would have never had this much exposure to microfinance and the impact that microfinance can have. Not only that, but GLOBE has exposed to me what a social business is, how a social business should be run, and what I should look for when searching for a social business to either invest in or work for. With that being said, I have always had a passion for the environment and reducing global warming, so I would like to rethink my own investments and shift them toward social impact projects related to the environment or programs like the one Ed is running in Guatemala.
This week’s class was genuinely fascinating. We had the opportunity to have our first in-person guest speaker, Mr. Ed Klimek. It was stimulating to have the chance to have an in-person speaker come to class. It gave me a feeling of transition, as if life was finally going “back to normal,” post COVID. I found Ed to be very captivating, and I liked how he was able to connect his career as an architect with the work he was doing in Guatemala. He was able to help the small town design a map of the village and then show them a satellite view, a completely different viewpoint for the villagers.
His parish partnered with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Global Solidarity Partnership to form a partnership with the Parish of Santa Cruz in the diocese of Santa Rosa in Guatemala. The relationship between parishes has been going on for more than ten years. Although some of the community members in Guatemala were a little skeptical at first, the persistence on both sides has helped this small community develop socially and economically. The parish in New Jersey practices solidarity lending, which by Ed’s explanation, sounded similar to the work we do right here in GLOBE. It provided the borrowers a platform to develop and support their families. Many used their loans to buy either beverage refrigerators for their small shops or to buy pigs that they could breed and then sell. It was interesting to hear some of the ideas they came up with, like the pig-breeding business, which was a huge success, according to Ed.
This partnership has been very successful over its years of operation and has ultimately resulted in the community experiencing exponential growth. This was achieved by the continuous communication between both communities to make decisions that are in the common interest of both communities. In the long run, the goal is to make the community self-sufficient, so they do not need continuous assistance from the American Parish. It would be interesting to apply this model to GLOBE, building a relationship with a specific community. In the case of GLOBE, I think it would be challenging to maintain a continuous and fruitful connection as the managers switch after every semester. However, I still think it would be in the program's best interest to explore the possibility of developing a similar model, that runs collaboratively from semester to semester.
This week was also the official launch of our GiveCampus Campaign: #SmallChangeBigDifference. The video came out looking very professional thanks to the help from the IT team, and we are super excited to get the donations started. All the managers from different teams have become advocates of the campaign, and it is going to take a group effort to reach the target goal of $2,500. It was developed by both the IT and Marketing teams but is for the benefit of the program as a whole, so it is essential to have the participation of all the groups.
This week has been a big week for GLOBE! Since we last met, the IT team has been working hard on the GiveCampus video. We’ve been interviewing former managers, current managers, and a member of our steering committee. Ultimately, we’ve spent some time interviewing to gather footage for the video and for podcasts. It’s been wonderful speaking about GLOBE, learning about others’ experiences and thoughts on the program itself. I loved getting to know the former managers and steering committee members. We did receive the script rather late in the game, so while we’d planned on having more time to put together the video, we only had one week remaining in the end. There was no time to waste. In under a week, the video was finished, edited, vetted, and ready to go out. My whole team was excellent and did a fantastic job on the video, especially given our tight time constraints. My teammate Sal did an especially great job that deserves a shout-out of its own, since he did most, if not all, of the editing and formatting on the video, complete with timing and voiceovers. I’m very happy to say that we created something that we can be proud of.
This week is a shortened week due to the holiday on Thursday, Thanksgiving. The semester is coming to an end, which is bittersweet. This semester has been incredible and surpassed all expectations that I had at the start. I wanted to perform well this semester, showing what I could do and build on my skills, while learning as much as possible. What I received was more than I’d ever dared to hope for, as I’m soon going to be leaving with a new perspective, a new group of friends that feel like family, and a life-changing experience. GLOBE has been life-changing, and I’m so thankful for everything that the program has given me and will continue to give me in the coming weeks, since there’s still some time left in the semester. I hope to continue performing at the level that we’ve maintained all semester and complete everything we’ve set out to do.
It is hard to believe that the semester is coming to an end and GLOBE with it. Last class we went over the GiveCampus campaign and it was great to be able to see all of the work that the other teams have been putting into this, boosting our fundraising opportunities so that we can provide more and more loans in coming semesters. This allows us to witness everything we have worked on separately as independent teams come together for the same cause. In addition to this, I also think that the upcoming loan presentation shows the importance of our work to communities. We are currently working on approving a loan for one of the Daughters of Charity with whom GLOBE has worked before. She now takes care of her mother. She came to us since she has been able to witness just how much of a difference these loans can make to our borrowers and believed in how this could benefit her and her family as well. This is something that I consider says a lot about GLOBE since the Daughters manage everything in the field. This is proof that they trust us significantly in helping them progress as well.
GLOBE has been an incredible experience. Being able to put the skills I learn into practice and to help others has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. It is definitely an experience that will remain with me as I move forward and make decisions on where I want to work and what I want to do with the rest of my life. Being able to connect to other people that have similar interests has also been an excellent opportunity provided to me by GLOBE. My fellow managers are incredible and do amazing things every time that they work on a project. Being able to find solutions and improve the tools we used throughout the process was something incredible to see, as well as the way in which we were all able to connect outside of the classroom setting and meet new friends based on this shared experience. Overall, GLOBE gives you more than just learning about Microfinance, it provides you an experience full of everything you can imagine and more. This is seen all throughout the class, not only from Dr. Sama, Lina, our GA Lauren, but also from the steering committee and former managers, and even from the loan applications. GLOBE is one of my favorite experiences I have had at St. John’s and overall. I would recommend it to anyone.
We’ve reached the final stretch.
It’s hard to believe that the end of the semester is around the corner and that this will be my last log. Although I am relieved to finally complete this hectic semester, I am a little - okay, maybe very sad that my time in GLOBE is coming to an end. It has been a rollercoaster of emotions throughout these past months. From being extremely nervous on the first day, stressing about completing our objectives, to bonding over dinners and GLOBE events with my teammates and fellow managers, there wasn’t a moment I regretted joining GLOBE.
My team and I will be sending out the final audit of the semester in a few days. I remember creating our first one, not really knowing how it all worked. But now that we’re on our third and final one, I’ve learned a lot, especially when it comes to giving advice. Our job is to evaluate each team’s performance and give feedback on what they’re doing right and what they might need a little more effort in. I was never really one to offer constructive criticism so openly, as it made me feel nervous somehow. However, now that I’ve consistently been meeting with the Marketing team and providing them with feedback, it feels almost natural. Offering my advice and ideas to help them improve has felt satisfying. It’s almost as if I’m giving myself those tips as well. That’s one skill I definitely did not expect to gain from this class, but I know it will be very useful. I’ve come a long way from that first day we met in person. If you were to ask me about microfinance months back, I would not be able to offer any good answer. Now, my understanding of microfinance is great, and I realize just how impactful it is.
I could go on forever about the skills and knowledge I’ve gained from GLOBE, but I wouldn’t want to make this log longer than it should be. One thing’s for sure, I can say with full confidence that this was my favorite class in all my years at St. John’s. I sure hope GLOBE’s future managers are able to experience and appreciate everything this program offers.
Next up: final presentations!
I can’t believe this semester is coming to a close and tonight was our last in-person GLOBE class. As I write this final log, I am thinking about the one-of-a-kind experience GLOBE has given me. I learned so many new things because of GLOBE, not just from the oral reading summaries and the PowerPoint presentations, but from the group work as well. GLOBE has pushed me to new limits and enabled me to step out of my comfort zone by planning and communicating with so many new people. I not only worked with the other current GLOBE managers but former managers as well, which shows me the impact this class has on its students. Everyone to whom I reached out was very helpful and excited to see GLOBE succeed.
My views on those living in poverty have altered since my first log, I have seen how innovative and selfless our borrowers are. They are dedicated to their ideas and businesses. They are not afraid to reach out for financial assistance to improve the living conditions of themselves, their families, and their communities. Their selflessness is inspiring. They don’t let difficult obstacles hinder their dreams of improving the lives of those around them.
My team and I are excited to see the success of the GiveCampus campaign. While we were all in class, the campaign went above its goal amount of $2,500. We acknowledge this support came from Dr. Sama’s efforts and some of the managers as well. We hope more managers are able to generate donations and further spread the word about the campaign. The Marketing and IT teams are proud of the work we put into the campaign and know our fellow managers will garner more support. We have another two weeks left in the campaign and are so excited to see how much money we will raise.
I can’t believe I am already writing my 10th log. It has been such a fun semester so far, and I am really looking forward to our last reading summary presentations tomorrow night. I have also loved being able to promote and gain exposure for our GiveCampus video throughout the last week. It was great going home and enjoying a nice break from school, but it allowed us to tell all of our family and friends about GLOBE and about our fundraising goals! I never knew about being an advocate prior to last week’s class. When Dr. Sama said that we were all going to be advocates for this semester’s GiveCampus campaign, I was very excited. It was also super cool seeing all of our hard work being displayed for everyone to see!
I have also found it really fulfilling being on the other side of the recruiting process for next semester’s class. I remember last semester talking to my friends that previously had taken the course and had been a GLOBE manager, and all that it entails. I felt shaky because I thought they were smarter and more capable than me before interviewing with Dr. Sama and Lina. Speaking for myself now, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I grew in confidence throughout the semester and realized that putting my best effort forward would pay dividends for myself as well as our amazing borrowers. I feel very educated in the world of microfinance and am really looking forward to ending the semester strong with the IT team and the rest of the GLOBE managers!
First, I would like to say, cheers to an amazing semester with GLOBE. I think that this was certainly one of the best classes I have ever taken in my academic career and will remain one of the best. There are many emotions that I feel right now, as we have come to an end, and the most prevalent one is definitely that of pride and happiness. I feel so proud of myself, as well as my classmates for how far we have come since the beginning of the semester. From a nervous student who did not know if I could handle such a big responsibility or understand how to work with a complicated topic such as loans, something I had no prior experience with, I grew into a student with confidence in my abilities to succeed through new experiences and challenges.
Of course, I could not have done it alone, as my classmates and I worked together as a team to tackle all of the loan applications we received this semester, as well as oral summaries and presentations. We were always pushing ourselves to improve and to do the best we could. I now know that trusting myself, my peers, and the process, is the key to succeeding, because when we believe that we are going to succeed, it is much more likely that we do. Of course, GLOBE has been around for many years, and has always been successful. I am so proud of the wonderful work that we do and the lives that we impact. I can say that I learned a lot both inside and outside the classroom, especially about microfinance and the process of microloans.
It was also a pleasure to be able to connect with past GLOBE managers, whom I met at both the Colors of GLOBE event and on campus. I received some really great advice from them about both the program and about my personal goals for the future. Moreover, I do not think that I will get to make so many amazing friendships as I did through this class. I got to laugh, work, have fun, and make the best memories with my fellow classmates, again both inside and outside the classroom. Lastly, I am also really grateful for all of the things that I learned about microfinance through this class. As a finance major, I am passionate about the material we learned, and I was able to see the world from this perspective that I had never thought about before.
While we may be conditioned to think of those in poverty as people who are helpless and pitiful, it cannot be farther from the truth- no one in poverty chooses to be poor, and most of the time they are poor because of circumstances they cannot control. But they still show unparalleled resilience and dedication to support their families and loves ones, and even to pursue their passions. A little bit of help from us gives them the opportunity they need to be able to have a better life and support themselves. They are people just like us with the same desire for an education and a stable job, but are sometimes stuck in the situations they are in. I am so glad that through GLOBE, we were able to make a real difference in the world on such an international scale, which has reminded me to be thankful for this opportunity to even be able to do so. I would like to thank my team, my classmates, Dr. Sama for her amazing guidance and mentorship, the Daughters of Charity, as well as the Steering Committee for being so helpful and such a pleasure to work with. I will forever be a part of GLOBE, and the lessons that it has taught me will also be a part of me forever… I can’t wait to see what future managers accomplish with GLOBE!
As the last class of GLOBE approaches, it is time to think about what the EDA team and I should consider passing down to the next semester’s class. The future and direction of GLOBE starts with next semester, and I am confident they will pick up where we have left off. One of the objectives that I believe the EDA team should consider doing next semester is exploring how GLOBE can increase measuring impact. After researching other microfinance institutions this semester to determine how they measure impact, it is very difficult for GLOBE to do the same considering the limited amount of capital we have and how we distribute this capital to our borrower’s. Measuring impact in microfinance is a very difficult thing to accomplish and requires a lot of hours and capital. However, keeping up to date with other microfinance institutions with their quarterly or annually reports is a great source for GLOBE to get insight on new techniques and ways we can measure impact for the future.
Another way in which the EDA team should pass down the torch to the next class is to continue researching how COVID-19 has affected our borrowers’ communities. This semester the EDA team was only able to cover three of the seven countries in which GLOBE operates. This is one of the reasons why I believe next year’s class should pick this up. Not only that, but the numbers are constantly changing every day and it seems like COVID-19 is something we will have to deal with for the rest of our lives. The impact that COVID-19 had on our borrowers' countries and communities absolutely blew my mind because almost every survey reported that the majority of households had a loss of income, food insecurity increased, or they had to use their savings in order to cope with the virus. Researching and understanding how our borrowers have been affected by the virus provides GLOBE with a better understanding of how we can best accommodate our borrowers and fulfill their needs. An example would be reducing the interest rate on certain loans. GLOBE already does a fantastic job of accommodating our borrowers, but every individual has had a different experience with COVID-19 and some borrowers may need more help than others. I am a firm believer that GLOBE will go above and beyond in the future to help our borrowers struggling with the consequences of COVID-19.