Two weeks ago, I spent an evening with about 30 SEAM members (students for engagement and activism in micro-finance) at Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA. We got down to the realities of the current micro-finance scene. The failure of several large MFIs and what contributed to their downfalls. We followed that with how to run a smaller MFI, serve customers' needs, and still produce good and reasonable net income and return for investors. I call it the $1.0M model.
Lastly, we discussed how to break into the micro-finance industry. The attendees really appreciated the discussion as most of their speakers extol the wonders of micro-finance, but never address the current situation after the recession.
Last night, I returned to UC Berkeley to have the same discussion with about 30 students in a DECAL (democratic education at CAL.) It was a very fast-paced talk as we only had 50 minutes to cover everything that I spoke about in 90 minutes at Stanford University.
It occurred to me that as I contemplate full retirement and approach 65, we really have a need to train the next generation of managers as we step off the stage. There is much work to be done and speaking to these students is just a very small step toward the goal.
Currently we have a new intern in Honduras who just graduated from Tufts University. Diana Baide will be spending 3 months with us in the position of Junior Loan Officer. When she completes her internship, she'll be followed by a graduate student in Public Policy from the University of Maryland, Adrian Carroll. Hopefully another graduate student from UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy will join him.