Elon Microfinance Places Third in Triple Impact Challenge

(L to R) EMI members Paige Edwards, Anna DeDufour, and Denis Dotson

(L to R) EMI members Paige Edwards, Anna DeDufour, and Denis Dotson

On Thursday, April 17, members of the Elon Microfinance Initiative competed in the Triple Impact Challenge sponsored by the Elon University Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. The Triple Impact Challenge is a competition designed for students to research social problems and provide entrepreneurial solutions to those problems. EMI members Anna DeDufour, Denis Dotson, Paige Edwards, and  presented their “Globes to Give Back” idea to help those in poverty. EMI placed third in the competition and won $200.

Scott Kelly, Instructor of Marketing and assistant director of the Doherty Center, believes strongly in the idea of entrepreneurship in a business education. “Our vision is to teach a systematic approach to solve problems in the world,” he said.  “We are excited about the opportunity to work with colleagues across the Elon campus.  As we increase the number of student projects (“shots on goal”) then we will see exciting results.”

The Globes to Give Back campaign is a program designed to raise awareness and money for those in need around the world. The globes, pictured below, can be purchased for as little as $1 from local restaurants, stores, and Elon University dining halls. These funds will be used towards Elon University’s Kiva team, which is designed to provide low-capital, low-interest loans to small business owners and entrepreneurs around the world.

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Globes to Give Back is a campaign designed to raise awareness and money for microfinance and social business ventures.

“I wanted to come up with an idea that made it easy, simple, and not time-consuming for people at Elon and the local community to donate a dollar to KIVA” Paige Edwards said of the project. “The donations are all recycled since they are only loans, which I think is what makes KIVA and fundraising for them so great. The idea is completely sustainable. I was inspired by St. Jude’s donation process, and kind of took it from there.”

Since 2011, Elon Microfinance Initiative has loaned $1,300 through Kiva to 33 small businesses in 21 countries in South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. EMI has contributed $475 in capital to Kiva, which means that for $1.00 we have contributed, we have made $2.73 in economic impact. We plan on contributing the $200 prize to continue the growth of our Kiva team and positively impact entrepreneurs around the world!


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Join the Elon University Kiva Team

Elon Microfinance Initiative is proud to announce the creation of a new lending team on Kiva.org. The Elon University Kiva Team will unite Elon University students, professors, and student clubs to raise money for entrepreneurs around the world. Elon University is committed to developing “global citizens” and we are confident that this is a way to learn more about the many types of businesspersons around the world. More than 1 billion people live on less than $1/day, and making a loan of just $25 can make a lifetime impact on a buisiness.

Take Elvira for instance. Sheis a hardworking entrepreneur who has a motorcycle transport business in the Philippines. She lives in Cordova in Cebu province, a small city of about 53,000 people. She is borrowing $375 through Kiva to purchase spare parts for the maintenance of her motorcycle. Elvira has been in this business for five years. She earns additional income from buying and selling peanut butter.

elviraElvira has been sustaining her business activities through her own efforts with the help of the loans from Kiva. She dreams of building and expanding her business to secure the future of her family. 

With a contribution of just $25, you can join Elon Microfinance Initiative in promoting and sustaining Elvira’s business for the thousands of people in Cordova that rely on her. Think about what $25 can do for someone like Elvira.

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Remembering Muhammad Yunus’ Visit to Elon


Elon Microfinance Initiative poses for a picture with 2006 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus.

Elon Microfinance Initiative has hosted many guest speakers in its 4+ years as a club at Elon University. Local business owners, entrepreneurs, and social business advocates have spoken to EMI members on the importance of microfinance in the 21st century. But EMI was honored to have a guest speaker on April 4, 2012 who travelled all the way from Bangladesh to speak at Elon. And he also had a Nobel Peace Prize.

World-renowned social entrepreneur and “father of microfinance” Muhammad Yunus visited Elon University two years ago today and captivated audiences with his humility and   consideration for the poorest of the poor. Yunus, now 73, was born and raised in Chittachong, Bangladesh, and taught economics at both Middle Tennessee State University and Chittachong University. Yunus then discovered vast amounts of extreme poverty in his native country, and set out on a mission to help those who were not finding help.

EMI President Kelly Cavanaugh shakes hands with Dr. Yunus.

EMI President Kelly Cavanaugh shakes hands with Dr. Yunus.

He pioneered the concept of microcredit, providing very small financial loans to individuals (mainly women) and groups that could use the money to grow their own businesses. In effect, these small amounts of money could help these poor “lift themselves out of poverty”. Yunus started the Grameen Bank in the late 1970s by loaning $27 USD to a group of 42 families to use as start-up capital for businesses. “Social business is problem-solving,” he said. “You have to identify the problem first, not academically…. but just as a person.”

Grameen Bank has since given more than $11 billion USD in loans and has enjoyed a 96.67% repayment rate, better than that of most small American banks. Yunus and Grameen Bank earned the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to expand economic opportunity for women and the impoverished. In 2008, Yunus authored Creating a World Without Poverty, which described his model of social business as a means to end poverty worldwide. The book also served as the 2011 common reading novel for incoming Elon University students.

In April 2012, Elon University presented Yunus with the Medal for Entreprenurial Leadership, rewarding an individual who exemplifies the values of Elon University, including integrity, innovation and creativity. Yunus also held a private meeting with members of Elon Microfinance Initiative, including current VP of Finance Denis Dotson. “I remember his quiet demeanor, but he also displayed a dedication for the poor,” Dotson recalled. “It was like these people were his family and that it was his job to help them.”  Yunus spoke to EMI about our mission, his views of microfinance, and how we could make an impact in our local community. “To have a Nobel Prize winner motivate you is an awesome experience,” Dotson added.

Muhammad Yunus speaks to EMI during his 2012 visit to North Carolina.

Muhammad Yunus speaks to EMI during his 2012 visit to North Carolina.

EMI thanks Muhammad Yunus for his kindness and wisdom during his visit two years ago, and we pledge to creating a better world for our future.

“When people say it can’t be done, you say ‘Yes, it can be done.’ If you feel passionate about it, stay on it; create new things and be defining. Don’t follow the dotted line. You create your own dots so others can follow.”

                  -Muhammad Yunus

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EMI Kicks Off Month of Microfinance Celebration

EMI members believe microsinance is "engaging".

EMI members believe microsinance is “engaging”.

On April 3rd, Elon Microfinance Initiative began its month-long celebration of the Month of Microfinance. The Month of Microfinance was created to foster an entrepreneurial spirit among student groups and professional organizations with a passion for microfinance and social business. Elon Microfinance Initiative is a proud endorsing partner of the Month of Microfinance movement.


Elon believes strongly in sustainability, and so too does EMI.

EMI’s first action this month was to spread the word about microfinance. EMI members considered the social and economic impacts of microfinance, and communicated their responses through social media channels using #MicrofinanceCanBe. “Microfinance helps generate hope through financial empowerment,” noted Michael Visconti, EMI’s VP of Operations. “Kiva loans provide us a way to help those in need and provide much needed inspiration.”

Even Elon Business Center namesake Ernest Koury Sr. believes in microfinance!

Even Elon Business Center namesake Ernest Koury Sr. believes in microfinance!

EMI is also excited to partner with Slow Money NC, a North Carolina-based microfinance institution that provides loans to businesses in the agricultural sector. In addition, a group of EMI students will present a project as part of Elon University’s Triple Impact Challenge, a contest designed for students to present solutions to social concerns. The Challenge will take place Thursday, April 17th. Additionally, EMI looks to develop a university-wide Kiva team at Elon University to spread the word about microfinance and its impact in a global community. We are confident that the Elon community will embrace our goals and support us in our quest to end poverty worldwide.

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Slow Money NC Visits Elon

EMI members pose for a picture with Slow Money NC founder Carol Hewitt.

EMI members pose for a picture with Slow Money NC founder Carol Hewitt.

On Thursday, March 13th, Carol Hewitt of Slow Money NC visited Elon Microfinance Initiative for a discussion on microfinance and social business in North Carolina. Hewitt is the founder and principal matchmaker for Slow Money NC, an organization started in 2010 that provides loans to businesses in the food and farming industries.

Hewitt started Slow Money after years of work in social justice. She was captivated by the idea that many small businesses can succeed with very small amounts of capital. Of the 90% of small businesses that fail, Hewitt believes many of them could have been saved with microfinance loans. “One of the reasons we find microfinance so compelling is that it’s hopeful,” Hewitt mentioned. “There’s just a natural way of looking for things that are hopeful.”

Slow Money NC has funded more than 55 businesses in the food and farming industries.

Slow Money NC has funded more than 55 businesses in the food and farming industries.

Since founding Slow Money, Carol has facilitated more than 55 loans to local businesses, including a major loan to help refinance a company shops market near Pittsboro, NC. In addition to her work with microfinance, Ms. Hewitt is also an accomplished author. She wrote Financing Our Foodshed: Growing Local Food with Slow Money, which chronicles the stories of more than 20 Slow Money businesses.

Elon Microfinance Initiative is very grateful to Carol for making a trip to Elon and we look forward to working with her company this semester!

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Month of Microfinance Contests and Internships

The Month of Microfinance is coming to Elon from April1 to April 30, 2014!

The Month of Microfinance is coming to Elon from April1 to April 30, 2014!

Elon Microfinance Initiative is proud to support the Month of Microfinance, which will be held again this year from April 1-30. The Month of Microfinance is a small movement of student groups in the United States dedicated to the causes of microfinance and social business. EMI is an endorsing partner of the Month of Microfinance, joining forces with organizations such as Accion USA, Kiva, and the Whole Planet Foundation.

To promote their cause, the Month of Microfinance is sponsoring several contests for students:

$200 – Best Student Microfinance-related Video

Your video can explain microfinance, highlight a particular organization, or do anything else to educate about client-centered microfinance.  The video will be judged based on the educational value, creativity, and strength of message. One high school and one college student will be awarded a $200 Kiva Card which can be used to lend a loan on Kiva.org. 

 $50 – $200 – Student Essay Competition on Microfinance

The Month of Microfinance and our partners are calling for original essays from students of microfinance (middle school, high school, undergraduates and graduate students) in both English and Spanish.

$100 – Best Microfinance T-Shirt

The Month of Microfinance and our partner Bonsai People – The Vision of Muhammad Yunus want to spark your artistic creativity, so we’re asking you to create t-shirt designs on the website Zazzle.com and send us the t-shirt design you’ve made.  You’re allowed to submit as many t-shirt ideas as you’d like and you may want to print yours and wear it around to spark a dialogue on microcredit and month of microfinance. You have two chances of winning.  We have a Best Design and a Most Viral award.  Both winners will receive $100 and a Bonsai People DVD.

In addition, the Month of Microfinance has several internship opportunities available for the summer of 2014. These internships include opportunities for students to work with microfinance organizations in New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Tennessee. They also include international development opportunities in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. You could even work with small business owners EMI has loaned to!

For more information, be sure to visit the Month of Microfinance’s website.


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Martin Yeral

1535279Martin, 34 years old, is from the region of Cucirisne in Nicaragua. He is a father of two children aged 7 and 11 years old, and he is dedicated to planting corn and wheat. He also has cows which allows him to sell milk. When the crops are low, he leaves the country to work picking coffee. Everything that he grows he sells in the same region. Today, he is requesting this loan to buy wire, staples and pay labor to help him repair his pasture fences. Martin says that the loan will be helpful because at this time he does not have the money needed for the maintenance and cleaning of his animals.

Elon Microfinance Initiative helped Martin fund his farming business with a $25 loan in February 2014.


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