Throughout 2011-2012, students from the Microfinance Consulting Club and other interested students gathered on Wednesday evenings over pizza or middle eastern food to explore how mapping technologies might help identify important factors determining Microfinance Institution locations. Under the direction of Shannon Mudd, coordinator of MI3 and Laurie Allen, Digital Scholarship Librarian, the project started with a focus on three countries (Uganda, the Philippines and Mexico) and with the task to compile lists of headquarter and branch locations for all MFI"s in each country. As the lists became more complete, we transitioned to the second task, using geocoding software to determe longitude and latitude coordinates for each location. This step was necessary in order to load the MFI location information into mapping software to create map layers for our analysis. It was time consuming, sometimes tedious work. But the students showed great perseverance and enjoyed the gatherings, the food, and the gradual movement toward making maps and doing the analysis. Many thanks also go to Laurie Allen, her colleagues and interns at the library in helping to set up the procedures and infrastructure for this project. It is through these that we will be able to continue to broaden and deepen our research in this area.
Initial results and additional information about the project are available at http://ds.haverford.edu/wp/mappingmicrofinance/
Collaboration with Agora Partnerships
In the first half of the Spring Semester, nine students were hired with MI3 funds to participate in a project with Agora Partnerships, an impact business accelerator co-founded by a Haverford Alum, Ben Powell. Organized by Dorrit Lowsen, another Haverford Alum, the students analyzed the products, operations and value chains of a set of Central American firms to help them devise potential social impact measurements they could use to verify their success and could incorporate into their management practices. The schedule was tight as these firms were preparing themselves to go before an investors’ conference. Working in teams of three, the students studied the firm descriptions, brainstormed about potential impacts, raised questions and engaged in discussions of social impact with the project managers, and drafted reports with assessments and recommendations. It was an intense effort that was successful on a number of fronts. The work was incorporated into briefs provided to investors at Impact Investing in Action conference in Atlanta at the end of May. At that conference, firms from Agora Partnerships and from Village Capital (Atlanta) pitched their ideas and many subsequently entered into negotiations with investors. Dorrit, student Thembi Mdachi and Shannon Mudd presented our assessment of the collaboration at an Impact Metrics conference sponsored by the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs in mid June.
Bankers without Borders Project
For Bankers without Borders (Grameen Foundation), student Yolanda Shao and Shannon Mudd worked with an outside consultant to set up an data entry tool and conducted the statistical analysis of survey data collected to conduct a social impact assessment of a Microfinance Institution in West Bengal, India.