Sunday, March 16, 2014

Technology and Communications Team Log # 2

By: Lin Yue Wang

GLOBE is really a different experience from any other class. It gives a feeling of worthiness because I know what we do here is making a small difference. Yet this small difference might just mean the difference in the world for some others out there living in poverty. I like how we address ourselves as GLOBE Managers instead of students because it reminds us of the responsibilities we have, and I can see how this class truly connects with GLOBE Managers altogether. The meeting with the former GLOBE Managers last week was fantastic and sincerely helpful. I was very surprised that many of them showed up on a late Tuesday night just to talk with us, but that also proved their passion for GLOBE never stopped. I believe that is the reason why GLOBE is so much more than just a class. Besides the three credits it offers us academically, what it really means to do is to connect us with a whole different world out there. The world of poverty that we are accustomed to reading, hearing, and talking about is now in our hands and we are able to contribute in our efforts to alleviate it. Words mean something, but actions means so much more, which is why I think GLOBE is a great opportunity for a hands-on approach and to do our part no matter how insignificant it might initially seem.
One of the articles I read this week was “Here’s a Woman Fighting Terrorism with Microloans”. The title immediately caught my attention and I thought to myself, “How does someone fight terrorism with money?” Roshaneh Zafar proved it could be done. She killed the roots of terrorism by educating and creating jobs for the poverty-stricken. The picture is then easily put together; an educated person with a decent job is much less likely to become a terrorist! As of today, she has helped nearly 300,000 million families. That number did not just happen overnight and it sure was not easy. It took almost 20 years and she had to overcome many struggles. Nevertheless, she never gave up; she stood by what she believed in. “Charity is limited, but capitalism isn’t,” Roshaneh said. “If you want to change the world, you need market-based solutions.” The concept is simple, but it is hard to enforce and there is no doubt about that. In the article, “Microfinance is Down, But Not Out.” The author pointed out microcredit may be used for other activities rather than improving livelihoods. I believe it is true and it is definitely an issue that needs to be worked on.
Nothing is perfect to begin with, but it could be improved. Microfinance is fairly a new concept that we have to preach to the poor; it is our job to help them to understand how microfinance will truly benefits themselves and the society as a whole. People are normally afraid of changes; therefore, giving them a loan without helping them truly understand the benefits of it could result in a worse situation. Changes are to be made, improvements are to be made, but none of these will be implemented unless there is action first. The most important thing is to take the first step in believing in microfinance and then we will be able to look into the flaws and make transformations.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Finance, Budgets and Risk Assessment Team Log # 2

By: Radha Byagari
I found last week’s presentation on gender and multiculturalism very interesting. Prior to that class I had never heard of Hofstede’s Model of National Culture. While I do not really agree with his conclusions, they made me wonder more about gender and how certain societal constructs continue to impede the ambitions and goals of so many women of different socioeconomic levels.
When you asked the class which countries were the most feminine by Hofstede’s definition, I was surprised when someone thought it was the United States. While I certainly enjoy living in this nation and the many freedoms we are afforded, I am also very aware of the many inequalities that still exist between men and women. Unlike Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands where women and men appear to be on more equal footing, women in the United States are still paid less than men and women comprise only 4.4 percent of CEOS of Fortune 500 companies. I think it is important to realize that many people are not fully aware of these inequalities. Maybe that is due to the great strides women have made in the last 70 or so years, but it is also a dangerous trend. If women in developed nations are not still trying to secure totally equal footing with men, how can we try to change people’s views in nations where gender archetypes are much more oppressive?

As we have heard and read many times, microfinance has been most instrumental in assisting women better their lives and their children’s lives. But sometimes cultures preclude poverty alleviation because of perceptions of gender roles. I would love for everyone in the world, despite education and income level, to be equal, but depending on the location, certain cultures simply will not allow for women to conduct business and help support their families. In these situations, what can MFIs and pertinent NGOs do? How can women lift themselves up without “forsaking” their culture or religion and not face exclusion? How can organizations successfully function in places where they may be perceived as actively trying to change a culture and its centuries old constructs and customs? I think culture is undoubtedly one of the biggest obstacles to overcoming poverty. I am interested in researching if and where people have been able to overcome crippling social structure with microfinance while maintaining their place in their community.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Happy International Women's Day!

"The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights" - Gloria Steinem

Marketing and Fundraising Team Log # 2

By: Kaela Landon

This week in GLOBE we focused a lot on the role that gender plays in microfinancing. Through our readings we discovered that women are more likely than men to become borrowers and are also make up the poorest of borrowers. I found some of the factors very interesting as to why that is. For instance, the female borrowers tend to have families and are therefore less likely to run off with the money; on the other hand, the men are often bachelors or need only provide for themselves. I noticed connections between family values and overall make up to this idea. Many societies are heavily populated with single parent households, particularly single mothers. That realization caused me to look at our borrowers slightly differently because single mothers exist both in the developing nations in which we lend and here on the home front. When I find similarities amongst our worlds I feel more of a connection to our borrowers as people and the notion that the geographic, economic, and social distance and differences between us are not reasons to remain uninvolved in alleviating the struggles of our planet.
The Marketing Team has been working hard to utilize the resources and support what we already have as well as exploring ways to make new connections. Our team objectives and semester goals are quite ambitious but we all agreed it best to aim high. I am noticing already that we all have different talents and visions, which makes for very creative brainstorming sessions. I appreciate that our team environment is turning out to be a place where everyone will get to show off their strengths and develop new ones.

The Marketing Team started doing the background work for all of our visions. We have been focusing the majority of our efforts this week on solidifying a venue for the 5th Anniversary Mixer. I feel like we are under a lot of pressure given that this is such a milestone for GLOBE but I do not see that as a negative thing. Instead I believe that this is just motivating us to work harder and more creatively to ensure that this is a memorable and productive semester.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Marketing and Fundraising Team Log # 1

By: Berenice Bryant

The meeting with Scott VanDeusen was very insightful. He was able to give us some inside knowledge on what techniques work within St. John’s and which ones are not as successful. This is important because this way we can avoid putting in so much time and energy into an ineffective campaign. Additionally, he had some good recommendations about turning the raffle offered into a 50/50 type raffle. This would eliminate the struggle of finding prize donations or raising additional funds in order to have prizes. Even more importantly, everyone will be happy with the money prize whereas a male receiving jewelry or a scarf is not as enticing.
Within the team we have not yet mastered communication. Although we have several platforms we can communicate through such as email and texting, not all the members are active in these discussions. I would like to discuss this today with the group because miscommunications and not having everyone on the same page can slow us down. Hopefully, we will be able to resolve this issue to increase our productivity. Otherwise, our team has been working together well in order to accomplish assigned tasks, brainstorm ideas, and set goals that are aggressive yet obtainable. It is important to set the bar high so that even if you do not accomplish your exact goal, you have made it close, which amounts to the best you could have done. We will be busy in the upcoming weeks; in order to set up the semester’s events and promotions, we need to plan them early to account for shipping, delays, venues filling up, and ensure we do not miss opportunities.
One thing I found to be interesting that we discussed in class previously was the idea that microfinance is not a new phenomenon. Eighteenth Century England had a similar system. Ireland also had loans in order to deal with the potato famine; they were even free. Microfinance was much less formal but still, the concept had been done before. In our texts, when referring to the development of microfinance, they are quick to reference Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank as well as other popular MFIs.

Another interesting concept we discussed was what being poor means. One thing mentioned by Dr. Sama was a discussion she had with an individual living in what we would consider to be a ‘poor’ area. This individual mentioned how she had never considered herself to be poor; she rich with culture, family and spirit. This just stressed the importance of not judging individuals based off of preconceived notions and to be conscious when discussing these matters as to not offend any groups. The ‘poor’ are resourceful and have just as much potential as anyone else, just no opportunity to use it. Referring to them more scientifically (i.e. those “below the line of poverty) is much more tactful and better explains whom you are referring to.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Technology and Communications Team: Log # 8 by Arianna Vargas

We are all super excited about the upcoming events. The time has come to prove our true commitment to GLOBE.  The semester is coming to an end so we are all starting to feel the burden of all the work accumulating, but we still manage to give it our all.  Preparing for these events have been a major part of our semester but all of the important dates are right around the corner.  It is too late to give up now; our class has to finish with the same enthusiasm and focus we started with.  Dr. Sama has done a great job at keeping us intrigued and keeping the spark going.  Not once has there been a dull moment in the class.  There is always so much to learn and get done.  Things were slightly switched up today because we had to bring in article instead of presenting our weekly readings.  Everyone acquired important information that can maybe even help GLOBE in the future.
Today our first draft of the research paper was due.   While writing my part of the research paper I came across common difficulties that have come with technology.  One of them being that at times people underestimate time and cost.  With underestimating time comes the postponing of a project.  By underestimating cost, the budget might not cover the project.  Both circumstances are detrimental to the process of helping a developing country.  It is vital for managers to be realistic about upfront and on-going costs because the conditions under which people in under-developed countries are living in have to be worked upon without delay. Systems that will support an MFI over the long term can be expensive. The purchase price of hardware and software usually accounts for only fifteen percent of the total cost of implementation. The majority of information system expenses are incurred in staff time, training, and adapting operations to the new system. Technology will also be an on-going expense as an MFI’s operations respond to changing client needs and regulatory and economic environments. An annual budget for information technology maintenance should not exceed 12−15 percent of an MFI’s revenues.

One of the most significant findings in the last 50 years is that a large share of economic growth, more than one-third, is driven by technological advance.  Capital and labor accounted for less than two-thirds of growth. The remainder was technology. The reason computers and software had such a powerful influence was that their effect was not limited to a single industry. Information technology (IT) could generate substantial spillover effects into other sectors. Examples include local area networks, computer-aided design (CAD-CAM), electronic banking, Internet retailing, statistical quality control, computerized inventory control, and faster communication of ideas. Industrial firms could use computers to reduce cycle times, achieve fewer defects, control inventory, and do specialized production runs tailoring manufacturing to demand.

The relationship between technology and microfinance evolves continuously. Throughout the years, the new devices do basically the same things; these are: capturing and analyzing data. This means that the actual technologies are not a major innovation, but what is innovative is what these technologies have done in the underdeveloped world.  For example, smart cards, credit cards and debit cards are popular now in the microfinance world.   Some institutions are even using them to process microloans.  The networking of branches is quickly becoming a requirement in the industry. The difficulty with this delivery channel is the cash part of the operation and being able to get beyond simple financial transactions.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Marketing and Fundraising Team: Log # 7 by Jessica Avenia-Gamba

GLOBE may not be at the level of success we would like it to be, but that does not mean it is not making progress. Although our repayment rate is not as great as it could be and our borrowers are difficult to keep track of, I sincerely believe the organization is making an impact, both locally and globally. We are raising awareness in our community, recognizing our mistakes, and proposing solutions just as social entrepreneurs should be doing. 

Our discussion in class made me realize that we cannot expect people who have never had the responsibility or capacity to build credit to know the meaning of repayment. We are aware that they are a major risk, but as a social action-driven organization, we are willing to take that chance. We fail to understand that our borrowers also know they are a risk for us and as a result they lack the confidence to manage their own business successfully. For this reason I suggested that it is crucial for GLOBE to focus on finding a way to educate the people we seek and provide them with the proper tools to succeed in their businesses and educate them on the importance of credit.

The article on social entrepreneurship was also very helpful in understanding the world of microfinance and microloans. It is essential that we differentiate the work we are doing with GLOBE from the work of other social action organizations that do not promote entrepreneurship. For example, although social activists are motivated by change, their methods are less direct. These types of groups are working with social systems already in place and pushing for modifications to improve them. Social entrepreneurs are innovative thinkers seeking to create an entirely new system that will change society as a whole. This does not mean that social entrepreneurs sometimes do not use the same tactics as social activists and traditional nonprofit organizations. It simply means that we set boundaries and understand differences; otherwise, it gives the public the opportunity to find flaws in the organization and ultimately ignore the cause altogether.