Entry #20: Small Steps Get Things Done: Microfinance
Background: When I speak with student groups or give public presentations, I often hear individuals remark that they feel overwhelmed by the multiple economic, social, and environmental problems we face in this world. They feel that their contributions would be too small to make a difference. My students prove otherwise. Anyone can do something to make this world more sustainable.
This little piggy - is from the Spartan Global Development Fund (SGDF). SGDF raises funds for microloans to give to small entrepreneurs in the United States and around the world. I am the advisor to this group, and I serve on the Board of Directors. My students began with four micro-loans of $25 each through KIVA (www.kiva.org) in July of 2009. As of November 2011, the group has extended over 300 microloans to small entrepreneurs in developing countries around the world. Along the way, SGDF has been granted 501(c)(3) non-profit status by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, and now raises funds for other projects. Some contributors have contributed substantial sums. For example, merchants in the East Lansing and Lansing area have allowed SGDF to set up the green piggy banks, donated by MSU Federal Credit Union, around our community to collect coins to help fund loans. It is a team effort every step of the way.
As a result of fund-raising, SGDF has signed an agreement with the non-profit group Esperanza en Acción, (www.esperanzaenaccion.org), a Fair Trade organization based in Nicaragua with which I have worked for several years. SGDF will help Esperanza’s producers by funding microloans at no interest.
My students’ work through SGDF is an example of how small steps and synergies among individuals and groups lead to big results. Please visit the SGDF website at www.spartanglobalfund.org to learn more about these projects and many more being carried out by young people from MSU who care about making a difference in this world. Additionally, the website gives more information about the wonderful groups and individuals who support their work.
Copyright© 2011 by Paulette L. Stenzel for text and photo.
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.