On a Wednesday evening late last semester, the Micro-Financing at GW group welcomed a visit from Oikocredit USA for a discussion about the micro financing industry. There were people who came into the room not having a clue what micro financing meant, and then there were others who have been doing research on the industry for the past 4 months and were well-versed in its intricacies. This range of experience and knowledge made for a lively and engaged exchange. During this discussion with Leah Gage, who serves as the Business Development Coordinator of Oikocredit USA, we touched on many different topics, including the role of the microfinance investor, the microfinance institution, microfinance clients and the products they need, and theories about effective distribution strategies for un-banked clients. It seemed everyone left with some new knowledge in their pockets.
I started a micro financing club at GW last semester with the dream of eventually creating a stable MFI in the DC community completely run by college students. Since the group’s conception, we’ve been spending a lot of time researching prospective clientele in DC and the currently existing micro financing industry. We went to the Lend for America conference and heard inspiring stories from currently active campus MFI’s and we were further inspired to create one for our community.
Being wrapped up with this fascination of creating our own MFI we haven’t really questioned whether this is truly the best way to have a positive impact in our community. Leah brought this point to the surface during our discussion and it’s had us thinking a lot more about it. Currently,we don’t have the resources or capacity to become a full-fledged microfinancier, but we do have the passion and interest for micro financing and we want to take action. We’re now planning to reach out to several different active micro financing organizations in DC to see how we could be of service to them.
We haven’t given up our dream of creating an MFI of our own but we are going to make more reasonable goals for the near future; reasonable goals that take the well-being of the community into mind.
Overall, it was an enjoyable conversation for everyone who participated and we are very thankful for this visit from Oikocredit. We look forward to more insightful conversations to come!
This post was written by guest blogger Valerie Rodden, President of the Micro-financing at GW Club.
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