Microfinance on Campus
As grass roots efforts for sustainable development grow increasingly popular among student communities, microfinance clubs and social initiatives are becoming more common on college campuses. These organizations hold events and service trips that spread the goals of microfinance and foster new thoughts about innovative ways to tackle the challenges of poverty. We hope to highlight some of these projects in the blog series, Microfinance on Campus.
Among the various university microfinance clubs, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Maryland have some of the most extensive programs that focus on international outreach, education and research.
For example, Harvard University’s Harvard Project for Sustainable Development (HPSD) was created in 2006, and has since then strived to “take action to reduce poverty” and create “long-term relationships with local communities.” Although it is still a new organization, the HPSD has launched numerous successful programs around the world, including agricultural training in Tanzania and clean water access in Haiti.
The University of Pennsylvania’s microfinance was the first in the United States and remains the largest. The group hosts the biggest undergraduate microfinance conference, bringing together industry leaders, non-profits, and academic experts to discuss the challenges and accomplishments of the sustainable development movement. This year’s conference, themed “Di◦ver◦si◦MFI◦ca◦tion: The New Landscape of Microfinance,” explores how diversification is becoming crucial for the sustainability of microfinance, given the increased regulations, ethical crises, and commercialization of microlending.
In addition to student-run clubs, many universities have organizations focused on making a social impact. The Center for Social Value Creation (CSVC), run through the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, works to connect students and faculty to the social sector through educational and hands-on experiences. The center also hosts the annual Social Enterprise Symposium, which aims to determine the role of business in creating economic prosperity and lasting social and environmental change. The Symposium happens to be going on today.
Student-fostered initiatives in microfinance and social impact are too numerous to count, but we hope to highlight some of the undertakings in this new blog series.
-By Amrita Moitra
*Disclaimer: The views represented here are the opinions of the individual blog author and do not represent the views of Oikocredit USA.