Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Uno, dos

As the GLOBE GA, I feel so privileged to have been given the opportunity to participate in this amazing experience along with the GLOBE Fellows and Dr. Sama. The GLOBE program is something that gave me a sense of mission during my last semester as an undergraduate student at St. John's. I had been studying Government and Politics, but despite interning for political parties or grassroots fundraising for candidates, I felt far removed from any sort of direct effect to improve people's lives. I had felt naive for thinking that I could have an egalitarian or humanitarian impact in the world. However, GLOBE made me re-assess this, and while I was on the IT and Communications Team and not directly evaluating loan candidates, I felt that the time I was putting in to the program was worth it tenfold and that the results were so valuable and fulfilling. It is rare for a professor to give so much autonomy to her students and place so much trust in them to help run her program, and I think that is what makes GLOBE so special. Traveling with this group of Fellows thus far has shown me that I am definitely not the only one that feels this way; this program has a deep, lasting effect on those who participate in it. 

As opposed to point-by-point storytelling of all the amazing organizations we have visited so far, I think it would be most worthwhile to mention some thoughts or concepts that resonated with me as we have gone along this trip. SupplyHope greatly stuck out to me and off the bat, I found it particularly respectful and heartening that they referred to their beneficiaries as those in a "low-income market" because as we have learned before, labeling people as "poor" greatly cheapens the richness of their culture, their experiences, their happiness, and their lives. SupplyHope essentially provides microfranchises to their 'operators', who then keep a commission of the sales from these small produce franchises to sustain themselves and their communities. The organization's mission of opportunity over charity, and their proven business models which are based on those of successful companies such as Subway and McDonald's, really made me ponder about the importance of providing the operational and training tools needed to those who wish to start their own small businesses in order to assure their success. Reflecting on GLOBE, SupplyHope's developed personality tests and individual candidate evaluations are something that our program could learn from so as to get a better understanding of who our future borrowers are, what they are good at, what they like, and what they may need to succeed. We had previously spoken of developing training modules for our borrowers' businesses, and SupplyHope's proven success in this field speaks to how important planting these basic seeds of understanding and knowledge is.

After SupplyHope, we visited Global Partnerships which serves as an 'umbrella' organization for various not-for-profits with linked goals and aspirations. During this meeting, it was emphasized that Global Partnerships will only back an organization if they have proven twofold success- in their financials as well as in their social impact. This concept led me to reflect on the microfinance model as a whole. It seems that for large-scale organizations, simply providing microcredit or funds is not really sufficient anymore. All the organizations we had visited up to this point placed a lot of weight on the importance of community development, which ideally should follow as a direct effect of whatever initiative they have implemented. It seems that this is definitely something learned along the way as methods of helping others efficiently develop (from charity, to individual opportunity, and now, to community impact). I whole-heartedly agree with this mode of thinking because this is one way to have a large-scale impact as opposed to simply focusing on individual projects. Emphasizing community integration is vital in breaking the cycle of poverty because this is not merely one person's fight. A widespread problem should have a foreseen widespread solution.

…to be continued.

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