This course provides a unique opportunity to develop cross cultural competency through travel, education, and service in the developing world. It offers the chance to study the impact of social businesses and microfinance upon global development -both from a theoretical and practical point of view. Ever since Grameen Bank founder, Professor Muhammad Yunus, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, awareness of and interest in the microfinance business model has risen dramatically. This course is designed to explore and analyze the key issues associated with microfinance and global development. In the process we will address such questions as: What is microfinance? What is a social business? What role has microfinance and social entrepreneurship played in global development? What are the limitations of microfinance and social business as a path for alleviating poverty? What are the ethical dimensions involved with globalization and can social entrepreneurs help to spread the benefits of globalization to the poor? Students will have a chance to explore these questions through course readings, class discussions, group projects, and on-site visits with social entrepreneurs.
Field WorkCountry: Ghana
This field lab will introduce students to the work of the Grameen Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded to help microfinance practitioners and to spread the Grameen philosophy worldwide. The mission of the Grameen Foundation is to enable the poor, especially the poorest, to create a world without poverty. Grameen accomplishes their mission by collaborating with local organizations and allies around the globe to provide products and services that allow them to: 1) reach deeper into poor communities with microfinance and technology services; 2) provide access to microfinance and technology services among the poor and poorest in harder to reach areas and currently unserved/underserved areas; and 3) measure who is being reached to ensure they are moving out of poverty over time. Our host will be Jacqui Moller Larsen, who currently serves as the country director for the Grameen Foundation in Ghana. Jacqui Moller Larsen and her staff will give an overview of the good work that the Grameen Foundation is doing in Ghana, with a focus on their innovative MOTECH program (Mobile Technology for Community Health), which is supported through a grant from the Gates Foundation. Conditions permitting, we will visit a neighborhood, served through MOTECH and see firsthand the work being done by the Grameen Foundation with their beneficiaries in Ghana