Continuing my theme related to the flexibility of our Spartan Global Development Fund (SGDF) members during this year of turmoil (See entry #2020-1), this blog post includes my SGDF students’ statement on Black Lives Matter. It expresses our respect for others no matter what their race, ethnicity, or background. This is deeply important to SGDF internally and in our interactions with others around the world.
SGDF funds microloans around the world for people of diverse races and backgrounds. Our direct loans totaling over $30,000 have gone to indigenous citizens in Nicaragua and Guatemala. Additionally, SGDF and members of our KIVA lending team have made at least 2,947 loans totaling $78,525 to small businesses in 82 countries. (See https://www.kiva.org/team/spartanglobal/impact. ) Moving forward, we will continue to strive to be as inclusive and diverse as possible in all of our activities.
Here is the thoughtful statement compiled by my SGDF students. I am proud of them for their previous work and for their commitment to the plans described below.
Spartan Global is an economic development organization. This is our simplest definition. Its implication is that inequality not only exists in the world but that inequalities are often rooted in injustice, thus warranting action to rectify them. To be a member of Spartan Global, a student must accept this premise.
We are a cosmopolitan association. We do most of our work in other nations. However, moral consistency requires that we view injustices in the United States through a similar lens. For centuries, the United States has been riddled with institutional patterns of violence against the Black community. The protests following George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police officers are an unprecedented reaction to these injustices.
Spartan Global values diversity in opinion, race, ethnicity, and background. We will never discriminate against a partner or member based on such characteristics. However, there is such a thing as evil. What happened to George Floyd was evil, no political allegiance or neutral stance alters that fact. The actions taken by protesters in order to combat this evil are unequivocally justified and they have our total support.
Spartan Global will take action to educate its members and community about the importance of diversity as well as racial injustices that plague America. We will strive to improve our members’ awareness of these issues in order to create a more effective team. We are searching for an MSU professor who specializes in racial issues and Black history in America to give a guest lecture to Spartan Global’s members in the fall. We will also be revamping our New Member Program to include educational material on the topic of racial injustices Black Americans experience every day.
Spartan Global’s goals are to create lasting relationships, enable sustainable development, and do our part to foster a more equitable world through micro-finance. It is time for us to focus on what is happening in our own backyard. To continue doing business as usual and ignore these issues would be to undermine our mission. This statement is our promise to never settle and to always push our members and Spartan Global community to be more aware, educated, and compassionate. We will be composing letters to our local, state, and national government representatives illustrating the changes we want to see in our community, state, and nation.
These changes have been focused on our internal dynamics as an organization, however, we are in the process of developing external projects that will pursue our updated commitments. There will be updates when we are ready to unveil these long-term efforts. Until then, please educate yourself, your family, and your friends through the following resources.
Keep fighting for what is right.
The SGDF team
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 student-driven microfinance organization.