This past weekend, my sister and I had lunch with a UC Berkeley student, Cyrus C, who wants to form a microfinance club and win an initial small operating monetary grant from the Associated Students' Union. Listening to her desires and needs for her group, I came to the conclusion that trying to fully form an MFI in one semester, 16 weeks, was impossible to achieve especially since the group wants to find funding and is very transient. I've never seen it done in such a short time period. It's taken me over 8 years to establish a really solid MFI in Honduras.
The desire is to have very small loans, $50 to $100, to start home-based businesses. A member of the group has done that and is a real inspiration for the other group members. The group doesn't even have enough time to form a solid group lending environment which is often the first step in forming an MFI.
Earlier in my career when I was a Credit Union Development Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal, I dealt with quite a few female groups using the ancient Tontin system where a group of 12 individuals had monthly savings meetings where each came to deposit a set sum - perhaps $5 to $10. At each meeting during a one year or 12 months cycle, a member won the whole pot, $60 to $120.
I suggested that this group try for 8 members and do a 16-week cycle or one semester. The suggestion was absolutely doable for the group. They're off and running. I wish them the best of success.