Student Managed Global Microloan Program Strives to Eradicate Poverty

From left to right: Jinqi Mao (I.T. team), Ralph C. Tecson (marketing team), Nneka V. Anozie (marketing team), Sonia Raphael (I.T. team), and Gabriella Romano (I.T. team)

Photo Courtesy/Yinneka Anozie

From left to right: Jinqi Mao (I.T. team), Ralph C. Tecson (marketing team), Nneka V. Anozie (marketing team), Sonia Raphael (I.T. team), and Gabriella Romano (I.T. team)

Alana Loren Bethea, Staff Writer

“I think it’s about giving women their own independence and self-efficiency.” – Nneka V. Anozie

Global Loan Opportunities for Budding Entrepreneurs, widely known as GLOBE, is a non-profit program combined with a social entrepreneurship course, which is open to all juniors and seniors. The program creates microloans for self-employed entrepreneurs, mostly women, in developing countries.

Associate Dean for Global Initiatives, Dr. Linda M. Sama, founded the program and launched it in spring 2009. She serves as the Program Director, professor for the class and Chair of the GLOBE Steering Committee.

GLOBE has given microloans to six countries: Nicaragua, Kenya, Philippines, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Vietnam. They plan to broaden their philanthropy to Guatemala in spring 2019.

GLOBE had the privilege of working with the Daughters of Charity, who overcome countless odds to deliver meaningful services to the poor in their communities, and of meeting many of their borrowers.

“Deemed ‘unbankable’ by traditional banks, and lacking the necessary collateral to qualify for a loan, our borrowers – who are mostly women (about 85%), and range in age from 19 to 60 – operate small businesses, the income from which provide a means of feeding their families, sending their children to school, caring for aging parents, and improving their homes for safety and resistance to the elements,” Dr. Sama explained.

This fall 2018 semester, the program created a campus campaign called “Generation GLOBE.” The campaign gives thanks to those involved in the program – the Steering Committee who govern the process, the donors whose contributions make the loans possible, the Daughters who administer the loans on the ground, the students who manage this social business, and of course to Professor Sama. As a first-hand witness, she sees how every single minute devoted to GLOBE pays extraordinary dividends in the lives of others.

In October, the campaign did a “Treat for Change” fundraiser and held an annual bake sale, where they accumulated 700 dollars in loose change and baked goodies. GLOBE students, dressed in Halloween costumes, went around campus giving out candy in exchange for  loose change.

Earlier in the semester, an employee and personal friend of Dr. Sama, Guillermo Campuzano (also known as Father Memo), visited the GLOBE class.

“One of the perks of GLOBE is that Dr. Sama’s personal contacts and colleagues who work in the world of microfinance or social justice in some capacity periodically visit us as a supplement to our lectures,” senior Ralph Tecson said.

Father Memo talked to GLOBE about the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which set out objectives for governments to promote environmentally friendly and socioeconomically beneficial policies.

Afterwards, Father Memo invited GLOBE to visit his office, and bought them tickets for a guided tour of the UN. Five members of the organization got to attend.

“I thought it was a nice change of pace and pleasant opportunity that wouldn’t have availed itself to me if I wasn’t in GLOBE. GLOBE is more than just a class, it’s a social business that constantly provides eye-opening and life-changing opportunities to its students and loan borrowers alike,” Tecson said.

The program has impacted the lives of St. John’s students who take the semester-long class. “As someone who is thinking about going into social entrepreneurship, it has taught me how to organize, event plan, fundraise- these are all things I had no idea how to do before GLOBE. Not only are we learning about social entrepreneurship, but we’re learning how to implement the things that we value into real life- to actually make a change,” senior marketing major Nneka V. Anozie said.

“It broadens your horizons,” senior marketing major Christopher Richardson-Byam said. “Me personally, I’m from New York — GLOBE shows you what’s going on in the world. It’s not just skyscrapers and business…people don’t have a lot. People are still stuck in their houses made out of tins. If we could do something to educate or fund the future infrastructure industries, why not.”

In late October, the program also received the Spirit of Service award, which is an important Vincentian recognition award at St. John’s.

GLOBE has grew from a fledgling idea to a robust program that has provided loans to nearly 200 borrowers in six countries, and has graduated nearly 400 GLOBE managers and students from the program.

According to Dr. Sama, GLOBE demonstrates that  good can be done in the world with small incremental changes, and through a social business, many of the shortcomings that injustices and unethical business practices that are unleashed on those living in the margins of today’s society can be overshadowed.

“It validates my belief in a brighter future for our planet – one that is envisioned and molded by the efforts of our youth.”