February 24, 2024

UMW’s Month of Microfinance a Platform for Global Discussion

The University of Mary Washington will host the fourth annual Month of Microfinance this April, leveraging the month as a platform for a global discussion surrounding the results of a new study questioning microfinance’s impact on poverty.   #MicrofinanceCanBe Campaign Submission The Month of Microfinance is a global grassroots movement that aims to solve poverty through client-centered microfinance programs, including microcredit loans. Yet recent studies show that this movement might not be making a difference. The academic research, presented at the World Bank in February, included six randomized control trials of microcredit programs. The results showed that while microcredits are a viable method of developing business pursuits, the loans lack a significant and sustainable impact on moving people out of poverty. According to UMW Professor of Economic Shawn Humphrey, founder of the Month of Microfinance, the research is a challenge to the traditional microfinance narrative, where clients access credit to become entrepreneurs and pull themselves and their families out of poverty. “It’s a big moment for the movement,” said Humphrey. “Microfinance is more than just microcredit though. The conversations throughout April will highlight the need for microcredit to be complemented by additional services like financial literary training.” With the Month of Microfinance taking place in April, just two months after the results were published, the month becomes an opportunity for the microfinance community to respond to the research. “We’re the stage for the conversation about how to respond to this research,” said Humphrey. “We’re publishing responses to the research from key players in the space to start the discussion.” The Month of Microfinance blog includes two key responses to the research from Larry Reed, Director of the Microcredit Summit Campaign, and Sam Daley-Harris, author of Reclaiming our Democracy. The blog also shares an article by James Militzer, editor of NextBillion Financial Innovation, who notes that “for a researcher working on microcredit, this is kind of a defining moment.” UMW will also host a screening of the documentary “Living on One Dollar” and a panel discussion about the work of La Ceiba, a student-run microfinance organization in Honduras, on Friday, April 24. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Whole Foods in Richmond, Virginia. The Month of Microfinance was established in 2008 by Humphrey and is run by five UMW students. The month brings students, instructors, microfinance professionals and researchers together with more than 100 global partners to facilitate conversations and connections among those involved in poverty. For more information about the Month of Microfinance, visit http://monthofmicrofinance.org/ or join the conversation on Twitter with #MicrofinanceCanBe.

Students Meet with Nobel Peace Prize Winner

UMW students and graduates met with Muhammad Yunus (fifth from left) during a trip to D.C.

UMW students and graduates met with Muhammad Yunus (fifth from left) during a trip to D.C.

Associate Professor of Economics Shawn Humphrey  and more than a dozen current UMW students and graduates met with Bangladeshi banker, economist and Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus during a trip to Washington, D.C. on Monday, July 22. The meeting was a reward for the students’ work with the Month of Microfinance and La Ceiba.

Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank, is the seventh person to have received the Congressional Gold Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Nobel Peace Prize. He is credited with establishing the concept of microfinance and was recently named one of the most influential business thinkers by the Wall Street Journal.


UMW Students Lead Global Microfinance Movement

More than 85 global microfinance partners have joined the University of Mary Washington in the Month of Microfinance. Throughout the month of April, students at UMW and other participating colleges, universities and high schools will host and participate in campus events related to providing financial services to low-income people who would otherwise be unable to get assistance. A grassroots movement founded at UMW, the Month of Microfinance (MoMF) is in its second year. This year, dozens of international partners are supporting MoMF, including Kiva, Whole Foods Market’s Whole Planet Foundation and Accion. The program highlights local and global events with the goal of providing a value-driven and positive impact for clients. MoMF facilitates connections between students and the microfinance community through conversation and learning. Muhammad Yunus, recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, advocated for microfinance principles in a recent video. “Many of the poor don’t have access to financial services and we’re really trying to change that,” said Laura Dick, a senior anthropology and economics major and member of the MoMF executive board. As a part of MoMF, a group of UMW students will participate in the Two Dollar Challenge from April 8 through 13. The Two Dollar Challenge, founded by Associate Professor of Economics Shawn Humphrey in 2007, is designed to raise funds and awareness for poverty-related causes. The Two Dollar Challenge also will occur at other campus communities across the country. Funds raised during the Two Dollar Challenge will go towards La Ceiba, a UMW-based collegiate microfinance institution founded by Humphrey that provides financial, social and educational support to communities in El Progreso, Honduras. “We’re passionate about what we’re doing” said Dick. “We really believe that it’s not just our intentions that matter, but the effects of our actions.” For more information about MoMF and a full schedule of events, visit http://monthofmicrofinance.org/.