Last night I had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours with Indiana U’s Trockman Microfinance Initiative (TMI) at an event where they reported on their recent trip to Opportunity International’s office in Oak Brook and then we enjoyed an hour-long movie highlighting the microfinance industry. I have to say, I was impressed with the turn-out! Almost 30 students showed up in the middle of the week before finals to watch a movie about the global impact of this economic development tool.
First, Charlie got up to give a short report on TMI’s trip to Chicago. He shared how grateful they were to interact with Opportunity staff. It was encouraging to hear from several different perspectives within the organization and have a sense of “how it all works”, as Charlie put it.
I then had the chance to get up and talk about Opportunity’s work. But before I started, I invited three ladies up to the front for a give away competition. The task: To come up with an innovative way to spread microfinance education on Indiana University’s campus. Then, I asked the remaining students to vote on which they would be most likely to help plan. The prize: a $25 OptINnow Christmas Gift card!
Here were the ideas:
- Let’s Go Shopping! The first idea was to bring products from around the world into the Indiana University Memorial Union and sell them at the bookstore! With each product, there would be small story attached about the entrepreneur who had made the item. This would help share the story of microfinance and give IU students the chance to shop for a cause!
- IU LoanFest The second idea was to have a big party where students can come and go online to a peer-to-peer lending site and actually make loans together. After all, who doesn’t enjoy social giving?
- Bathroom Campaign Everybody likes something to read while doing their business, right? So why not post flyers on the back of stall doors that creatively share stories about microfinance.
And the prize goes to….”Let’s Go Shopping!” Remember, the contest was to see which one you would be interested in planning. I’m curious to see if they can make this happen! I’m pretty confident in their ability.
After sharing about Opportunity and its work in technology, insurance, and other innovative areas, I sat down and we watched a movie presented by Bringham Young University about microfinance. It was refreshing to be reminded of how powerful microfinance is in the lives women and men around the globe. This tool has transformed families and communities. Though it is not the silver bullet- and doesn’t claim to be- it is a progressive way of providing hope to those who have dreams to be realized. Even those of us who are in the industry need to be reminded of this from time to time.
I’m pretty excited to see what else Indiana University will do for microfinance in the next semester. So far, they are planning a panel discussion in February surrounding the topic of microfinance education at IU and will engage with Opportunity in a major upcoming event in the spring. Stay tuned!