*Entry #32: Spartan Global Development Fund Reaches a Milestone and Honors SGDF Member Mitchell J. Taylor
One of the greatest joys of my life, personal and professional, is working with Spartan Global Development Fund (SGDF), our Michigan State University-based microfinance organization, and I am delighted to report that SGDF has reached a significant milestone: Since we made our first package of four $25 loans on July 4, 2009, SGDF has extended over $101,000 in loans to small entrepreneurs across the world. Our latest package of loans totaling $3,370 has been sent to Guatemala to assist five new or developing small businesses. This landmark set of loans is even more special to us because the loans are dedicated to the memory of Mitchell J. Taylor (pictured above), beloved member of the SGDF Fundraising and Development Team. With these loans, we celebrate Mitchell’s smile, laughter, and dedication to making life better for others.
Our latest package of loans assists five small businesses in Guatemala. First, Angel, an aspiring farmer focusing on coffee and avocado production, will use his $750 loan for crops and fertilizer. Second, members of the San Antonia Weaving Cooperative will use their $1,050 loan to create new textile patterns to stimulate sales. The funds will pay artists for their unique designs. Third, the Nahuala Cooperative is a small weaving cooperative that is experiencing high demand from wholesalers. A $625 loan will enable the group to market new designs.
Fourth, and finally, is a two-stage loan. SGDF has loaned $673 to Giovanni Caseres, an auto mechanic with many years of experience, for the purchase of an engine hoist. This equipment will enable him to offer full engine rebuilds as compared to only top engine rebuilds that he was able to offer prior to this loan. This loan is unique in that, when repaid by Giovanni after only three months, the funds will be loaned to immediately to pottery artist Elvira. She will use funds for two purposes: mentoring in business financial management and to purchase materials for unique collectible items related to coffee such as coasters.
These loans demonstrate SGDF’S careful and respectful approach to micro-lending. Working with As Green as it Gets (AGAIG), our field partner in Guatemala, we enable small entrepreneurs to help themselves. Loans are made to meet needs identified by the entrepreneurs themselves, and our terms are tailored to meet the specific needs of the borrower. For example, repayment terms for these five loans range from three months to five years according to the needs of the borrower and type of business involved. For example, the loan to Giovanni Caseres, the auto mechanic who is using is loan to purchase equipment, is for only three months. In contrast, Angel needs three to five years for newly planted coffee plants to yield a marketable crop, and it takes that long or longer for avocado seedlings to mature and produce fruit.
Beyond meeting the specific needs of borrowers, our loans are always interest-free. Moreover, upon repayment, funds are loaned to another aspiring entrepreneur to establish or expand his or her business. When each of these loans totaling $3,370 is repaid, we will lend the funds to another small business person in memory of Mitchell J. Taylor, providing a lasting memory of his contributions through SGDF. With a repayment rate of over 99.9% since SGDF made its first group of loans on July 4, 2009, we know that our programs are sustainable for the long run.
Copyright ©2018 by Paulette L. Stenzel, Professor of International Business Law, Michigan State University, and advisor to Spartan Global Development Fund.
*This blog post is also available on the Spartan Global Development website. Please visit www.spartanglobalfund.org to learn more about the passion, hard work, and accomplishments of our MSU students and young alumni who work tirelessly and with great passion to help small entrepreneurs gain access to capital through microloans.
Entry #31 Coffee Direct from Guatemala, Success for a Small Entrepreneur and His Family, and Joy for Michigan State's Spartan Global Students
This coffee was roasted and packaged by Sr. Victor Cataví of San Miguel Escobar, Guatemala in early January. He was assisted by our Michigan State University Spartan Global Development Fund (SGDF) students who visited Guatemala over the holiday break 2017-2018. Students learned about the intricacies of and hard work involved in planting, tending, harvesting, sorting, roasting, and packaging coffee. Several of our students stayed with Sr. Victor Cataví and his family while in Guatemala. This gave them an opportunity to nurture friendships and experience family life in Guatemala. I am advisor to the student-led SGDF and a member of the board of directors for its non-profit companion organization, so, of course, I traveled with the group.
Señor Cataví became involved in the coffee industry about around 2015 with the help of SGDF’s field partner, As Green as it Gets (AGAIG). Sr. Cataví did not have any land to grow coffee, so he decided to enter the coffee processing business. This is fitting because coffee is part of his family's heritage. The photo on the bag shown above honors Don Beto, Sr. Cataví’s father who was a coffee farmer.
In early fall of 2016, SGDF made a $1,300 loan to Sr. Cataví to help him purchase equipment to begin processing coffee fruit and to package it for sale. The loan period was set for 24 months, with one lump sum due in August of 2018. To our delight, during our visit in Guatemala, he repaid SGDF in person with $1,300 cash—six months early! What a surprise to receive early payment! And, it is a joy to see him and his family doing so well!
We tailor our loans to fit the needs of each loan recipient. A coffee plant takes about three years from planting to start to give a substantial yield. So, our loan terms gave Sr. Catavi time to find a supply of coffee from nearby coffee farmers, purchase processing equipment, and learn the ins and outs of coffee processing and roasting. In light of the facts that coffee is harvested only once each year and he had no knowledge or capital at the beginning of the loan period, he would not have been able to make monthly payments. Moreover, SGDF does not charge interest. A traditional lender would never have loaned money to a low-income small entrepreneur, and a loan without interest would have been unfathomable.
Moving on, SGDF has already signed a contract loaning some of the $1,300 Sr. Cataví repaid to us to a cardamom farmer. There are new markets for cardamom oil today, and our loan will help a small farmer enter those markets. Moreover, we are recycling our funds and working on other loans.
Thank you for supporting our SGDF students. They are making a difference in the lives of small entrepreneurs and their families and communities in Guatemala and beyond with every loan they make. It’s about giving a hand up, not a hand out. And, if you get a chance, please check out our website: www.spartanglobalfund.org.
Many thanks for your support!
Copyright c 2018 by Paulette L. Stenzel, Professor of International Business Law, Michigan State University
“Coffee is just a vehicle to make positive economic change”- Matt Early, co-founder of Just Coffee.
In May of 2013, I visited Madison, Wisconsin to learn about cooperatives and Fair Trade in that city. It was my pleasure to meet with Matt Early, co-founder of Just Coffees. Matt is a close friend of Chris Treter, founder of Higher Grounds Coffee of Traverse City Michigan. (See entry #14 of January 11, 2011.) Both men are committed to Fair Trade as a vehicle for economic and social change, and each supports and speaks highly of the other. What is special about Just Coffees and Higher Grounds? There are many attributes, but as an introduction I will focus on the words of Matt Early: "It’s all about Transparency, Cooperatives, and Small Farmers.”
Entry #24 Elvia's Textile Creations
This is Elvia Minas of San Miguel Escobar. I met her on a research trip to Guatemala during the summer of 2012 when I traveled there to learn about the Direct Trade Coffee Cooperative known as As Green as it Gets. I was delighted by the beautiful patterns as well as the quality of Elvia’s creations and purchased several for myself and family members. After seeing mine, some of my friends even purchased items from Elvia, and I continue to put others in contact with her.
Meet Filoberto Salazár: He is a coffee farmer in Antigua, Guatemala as well as a barista in “Whiskey ADentro” Café (also called the “Whisky Den”) in Antigua, Guatemala. Sixty-year-old Sr. Salazár has been a coffee farmer all of his life. Additionally, in the spring of 2012, he became a co-owner of a coffee house in Antigua, Guatemala called the “Whisky Den.”
Entry #13– January 17, 2010
Sustainability from Coffee, Cups, and Bikes to… a lot more!
A simple way to help make the world more sustainable and avoid filling landfills is to carry your own coffee mug or cup. My friends in Fair Trade at Higher Grounds Coffees (http://highergroundstrading.com) in Traverse City, Michigan pursue sustainability in many significant ways, including the usage of reusable mugs.
Entry #12– January 7, 2011
Highest Quality Chocolates - Produced in Michigan and Serving the World
I am a Fair Trade and sustainability advocate, and I love chocolate. So, it’s great to combine those passions. Mimi Wheeler is doing wonderful things with chocolates and foes them in sustainable ways at her company in Empire, Michigan: Grocer’s Daughter Chocolates. Walking into Grocer's Daughter is akin to walking into the wonderful smells and tastes of chocolate shop in the movie "Chocolat" but with the cheerfulness, inside and out, of bright colors typical of Mexico's Caribbean or Ecuador's coastal towns. The flavors vary including pear, ginger, apricot orange, sunflower seed, chilis, and more. Each handmade chocolate is gorgeous, too.
Paulette L. Stenzel
I am Professor Emeritus of International Business Law and Sustainability at Michigan State University (MSU). I am also a mom, learner, writer, violinist, environmentalist -in -process, traveler, and avid reader. I continue to teach part time at MSU and coordinate the Broad College Ethical Leadership program Additionally, I advise Spartan Global Development Fund - a microfinance organization.