STJ offers unique program

Global Lending Opportunities for Budding Entrepreneurs, or GLOBE, is a student-managed class/organization hybrid that serves as a microfinance institution to impoverished countries such as Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, and Vietnam.

Dr. Linda Sama, a passionate philanthropist, founded GLOBE at St. John’s in Spring 2009 within the Tobin College of Business. Working with the Daughters of Charity, a Vincentian mission, the dedication to service and social justice is framed after Muhammad Yunus’ notion of giving small loans of approximately $100-$500 to the destitute and fostering  the proper skill set of money management, responsibility, and self-reliance, to uplift themselves out of poverty with dignity.

In their ninth semester, the GLOBE family consists of about 200 Johnnies and has extended beyond Tobin. Currently, GLOBE has 66 borrowers and 38 loans, two of these loans are group loans of 15 people.

“We lend to the poorest of the poor; traditional microfinance institutions probably wouldn’t loan to them,” Dr. Sama who emphasized that the goal of GLOBE is social improvement, not profit, said.

GLOBE managers, Dr. Sama’s students, operate as social entrepreneurs in four committees: Enterprise Development, Finance and Risk Assessment, Information Technology, Marketing and Fundraising. The class has accomplished financing three new types of loans this year alone. A self-help group loan features a savings component, a crucial and difficult concept of alleviating poverty.

For the first time, GLOBE loaned money for a young adult who was supporting her family to purchase a motor scooter for her to get to and from work. One recent client was seeking a loan to fund her general store, however, her request was alarming when considering a nearby client was loaned much less for the same exact business. When discovering the prospective client had leprosy and was most likely asking for the large expense to assist with her medical
condition, GLOBE offered her a provisional health loan in addition to a business loan.

Liaison of the IT team, Nicollette Lygeris, originally applied to GLOBE because she had a friend in the previous class. As a business major, she believes that employers, “are looking for something different; GLOBE keeps me tech-savvy and looks good on a resume.”

Thanks to Professor John Clark, a major GLOBE donor, managers will be able to participate in fellowships, working directly with the Daughters of Charity and the borrowers abroad in the future.  In addition to traveling to the lending sites, GLOBE hopes to expand.

The purpose of GLOBE more than aligns with the university’s Vincentian values, it resonates.