The Spartan Global Development Fund is a student-run initiative at Michigan State University. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Spartan Global consists of students, professors, and alumni. Members work to expand awareness and support for microfinance while building lasting partnerships in the quest for permanent solutions to global poverty. Microfinance is a general term describing financial services offered to those living below the poverty line who would otherwise not have access to such resources. We aim to educate, inspire, and enable tomorrow’s agents of global change by raising funds locally to offer microloans to aspiring entrepreneurs throughout the developing world.
Microloans offer a sustainable alternative to traditional charities because the extended loan is invested in the future potential of business owners. With this necessary capital, these entrepreneurs are able to catalyze their businesses, and in turn, generate profits. This economic stimulus thus creates a ripple effect throughout the community and impacts more than just the loan recipient. Moreover, the money we raise and offer to entrepreneurs in the developing world is utilized again once the original loan is paid off.
Spartan Global plans to visit our longstanding microloan partner in Guatemala, As Green As It Gets, over winter break. Spartan Global student members will directly engage with recipients of microloans made over the 2016-2017 academic year. During the past year alone, the Spartan Global student team has been able to facilitate three small loans, worth $4,300 in total, to aspiring entrepreneurs in Guatemala through As Green As It Gets. These loans have been used as capital investment for three coffee farmers, a metalworking artisan, and a motorcycle repairman. This trip will allow Spartan Global members to experience the impact of their work firsthand.
In partnership with the Eli Broad College of Business, a documentary showcasing the research conducted about microfinance on the trip will be produced to educate and inspire future MSU students.
Each student has to pay $1,000 to cover all meals, activities, and lodging in addition to their airfare. All donations will go to help making this trip affordable for students.
Spartan Global’s field partner, As Green As It Gets, is facilitating all aspects of the program. While in Guatemala, students will participate in a variety of fieldwork and engagement activities to gain on-the-ground exposure to the complex world of microfinance and sustainable economic development. Students will visit the coffee fields of farmers who received a loan from Spartan Global and harvest their coffee with them in order to understand the coffee growing and production process. Students will also meet with another recent loan recipient to learn how to roast coffee with equipment that was purchased using a Spartan Global microloan. In addition, Spartan Global members will be visiting a local artisan and handyman--both past loan recipients--to gain insight into their respective businesses. Throughout these site engagements, students will have the chance to interview each entrepreneur about the impact their Spartan Global loan has made in their business models and in their lives.
Students will tour textile markets and meet with weavers, producers, and exporters to learn about one of Guatemala’s most profitable industries: textiles. Round-table discussions with experts and community leaders will connect the experiences of Spartan Global students while in Guatemala to overarching themes of microfinance and economic development. Homestays with local artisans and farmers will further integrate students into local traditions and culture. In the end, this direct engagement with loan recipients and professionals in the field will provide a comprehensive view of the microfinance process along with a unique learning experience about international business. This will be the first time Spartan Global members will have the opportunity to meet directly with loan recipients in the history of the organization.
Spartan Global is made up of 22 undergraduate Michigan State students across all academic disciplines and backgrounds who work to extend microloans to aspiring entrepreneurs across developing regions of the world while simultaneously raising awareness for the world of microfinance. A board of directors, comprised of Spartan Global alumni and faculty members, oversees actions of the student team and provides support along the way.
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