Her Campus Northeastern collegiettes™ and writers, Delia Harrington & Christiana Jacobson, spent much of their summer vacation on a Field Study in the Dominican Republic! Take a look at some of their fantastic photos of their amazing trip with the Social Enterprise Institute (SEI) under the College of Business Administration (CBA).
For the first three weeks, the girls worked with Dominican college students in the business program at Intec (Instituto Tecnico Republico Dominicano). Every day they had lectures about micro-credit (made famous by 2002 Nobel Peace Prize-winning Dr. Muhammed Yunus and the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh,) or went out into the field.
The partner institution, Esperanza International, is a non-profit that seeks to bring children out of poverty. They do this by giving small loans to adults, mostly women, who use them to start or improve their own business. The clients' businesses are things like making fried chicken or re-selling clothing. This is revolutionary because the clients don't have traditional collateral, like a house, a car or a lot of cash. Instead, the system relies on social pressure: if any one women in a group of five doesn't pay back her loan, the others must do so. If they can't, someone from another group of five within their "Bank of Hope" must do so.
Esperanza means hope in Spanish, and that's what they hope to offer with these loans. They also offer dental services, free pap smears and have AIDS clinics.
Their job, with the intec students, was to survey over 200 current and former Esperanza clients of Haitian descent to see why their repayment rate was lower. That entailed creating a survey, loading into vans every day and driving anytime from 20 minutes to 2 hours, and translating the questions and responses so we could record and compile them. While some clients spoke Spanish, many spoke French or Kreyol, so they relied on several Dominican and American students to translate to the best of their ability. They then compiled their findings and suggestions into a presentation, which 5 of our students delivered to various key Esperanza employees, including CEO Carlos Pimentel.
If anyone reading Her Campus would like to learn more or to help Esperanza with their goal of alleviating poverty with sustainable, dignified solutions, they can feel free to donate at http://numf.tumblr.com/
Photos & info courtesy of Christiana Jacobson & Delia Harrington