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Jeremy Golan ’09 and James Burton ’11
Jeremy Golan ’09 and James Burton ’11

Microfinance Club Wins National Contest

It was a dual passion for economics and social justice that inspired economics majors Jeremy Golan ’09 and James Burton ’11 to launch the Haverford Microfinance Club.  The pair wanted to educate more of the student body about microfinance—an international movement devoted to bringing high-quality financial services to the poor that grew out of the work of Nobel Prize winners Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank. Yunus, who holds an honorary degree from Haverford, pioneered the concept of microcredit , now a multi-billion dollar industry, after seeing that capable entrepreneurs in Bangladesh in need of only tiny amounts of capital were being charged outrageous interest rates by informal money lenders.

Burton and Golan also saw the Microfinance Club as a means to spark more on-campus discussion about issues of development economics and socially responsible investing through the use of modern business practices.

Recently, the Microfinance Club co-presidents, along with club members Jamey Van Opstal and Carlos Barreto, ’09, got to engage with those issues directly when they entered a contest sponsored by Videre, a start-up microfinance institution. The aim: to help Videre assess potential launch sites for investing capital raised in the U.S.  

The Haverford team was assigned Abia, Nigeria, a state in southeastern Nigeria. The four Haverfordians  evaluated the feasibility of starting a microfinance institution in the region based on local competitors and growth potential.

Teams presented their results via videoconference with Videre headquarters in Dallas, Texas.  The teams were judged on presentation and delivery, thoroughness of research, and quality of consultation. Sealing the victory over the competition, which included teams from Cornell University and the Wharton School of Business, Iris Liang, Videre program coordinator, said, “Overall, the judges felt that Team Nigeria portrayed all three of these qualities best. It was extremely helpful that the team members effectively tied back each part of their presentation to how it would affect starting a microfinance site.”

The Microfinance Club hopes to be part of more hands-on development projects in the future.  Assistant Professor of Economics Saleha Jilani serves as Faculty Advisor to the Club.

Students cross in front of Founders Hall.

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