For recipients of micro loans, a small amount of money and a short amount of time can transform their lives.
Similarly, in one short year, FIU Micro-Lenders has rapidly progressed and succeeded. Having begun as a community service project in the Business in Society course, part of the College of Business Administration’s BBA+ Weekend program, it already has become an official student organization, is in the process of becoming a 501(c)(3) non-profit Florida corporation, and has formed partnerships to increase its impact. This fall semester, a team from FIU Micro-Lenders is working to integrate the service project across the entire BBA+ Weekend curriculum and is forming a partnership with Great Florida Bank.
“FIU Micro-Lenders is a project that’s building the road as it moves down it,” said Robert Hogner, associate professor, Department of Management and International Business, coordinator of the college’s Civic Engagement Initiative, and instructor, Business in Society. “We have a general idea of the direction we’re going in, with each class improving the operations and taking on special fundraising and public relations roles.”
Latest fundraiser focuses on book drive.
For example, the current BBA+ Weekend group has organized book drop offs, not only on campus but also at various sites throughout Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. They sell the books—ranging from textbooks to children’s books—via an Amazon.com account.
“One book may only be worth $5 or $10, but as we gather more, it really helps,” said Romina Tripichio, student coordinator, SER Jobs for Progress; with Mariangle Calcoya, purchasing manager and corporate officer, Darmiven, Inc., adding, “If everyone in Miami-Dade County alone donated $5, or a book, imagine what we could do for the rest of the world.”
Ricardo De La Paz, controller, Bernstein & Maryanoff, agreed.
“Five dollars won’t make a difference in your daily life but it will make a difference in someone else’s,” he said.
The $5 figure keeps coming up and sounds impossibly miniscule, but, “That’s the premise of micro finance: that we can empower others through very small loans,” said Frank C. McGuinness, IT strategist, Miami Herald; BBA+ Weekend Group 24 class president; and future president of the non-profit.
International focus supports college’s mission.
While many aspects of the effort stand out, Hogner notes in particular that FIU Micro-Lenders is “an international service project that doesn’t require air travel, while giving students the kind of international exposure appropriate for the college’s international business and management emphasis.”