Program II : Peer-to-Peer Microfinance Rural Poverty Alleviation Program (G10-G11)
- 2012 P2P Summer Camp – Global Philanthropy Leadership Internship Program
What is “microfinance”? Muhammad Yunus (born 28 June 1940), a Bangladeshi banker, economist, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, began developing the concepts of microcredit and microfinance in the 1970s. By affording loans to entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans, Yunus discovered a way to help individuals extract themselves from the cycle of poverty. In 2006, Yunus and the bank he founded (Grameen Bank) were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for their efforts to create economic and social development from below.” Yunus himself has received numerous other national and international honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, and honorary doctorate degrees from universities across the world. Today, Yunus’ microfinance model has inspired similar efforts in over 100 other developing countries.
Like Professor Yunus, you too can make a difference in the world through microfinance! A peer-to-peer microfinance program primarily targeting Chinese peasant workers, IvyMax’s Poverty Alleviation camp enables lenders to extend loans directly to borrowers, offering rural farmers the chance to make great strides towards economic independence. By providing individualized support through the P2P model, we aim to increase and promote the effectiveness of microfinance in rural areas. As our platform continues attracting worldwide attention to the millions of poor peasants in China, our goal is to help them eradicate poverty at an early date to lead lives of increased mobility and wellness. Educated and inspired young adults who participate will help shape the future of microfinance and use capital resources to make a global difference.
Location: Gansu, Henan, Ningxia Hui (Muslim) Autonomous Region
Length of Program: 15 days
Size of Group: 15 students on average
- Conduct research regarding microfinance, microcredit, P2P, and Prof. Muhammad Yunus
- Receive training on how P2P works in China
- Conduct field trips/interviews with lenders and borrowers
- Finalize operations report for future P2P microfinance program in China
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Testimonials – Edward J
I had never wasted a single one of my summers since first grade. I had either traveled around the world, enrolled in different camps or had some tutor to help me polish some of my hobbys. This summer, I went to Tongxin, Ningxia with ivymax for a micro-finance project. Personally, I chose to do this because I had been stumbling on whether or not I would like to major in business sooner or later as I finish highschool. Additionally, I also was wondering how business is applied in the real life situation. On the other hand, I faced several challenges.
First, during my first night in Tongxin, I came across with showering problem. The problem was not simply just the hotel did not have a good showering essentials, but also not having warm water. It annoyed me, especially that I just got off the train and smells horrible all over. As a result, I had to use the warm water from the sink faucet and shower myself. However, I later had a thought of “God must be joking” by the fact the hotel in fact labeled the nozels wrong.
Secondly, it comes with the problem of the bright, fierce sun. On the first day, I got 30% darker, on the second day, I started to get sunburn. This taught me a lesson of to never under-estimate anything, either it is a person, or weather. Ergo, on the third day, I started to apply sunscreen, though it was too late already.
Last but not least, one of the biggest challenges was to be a co-leader. Being a co-leader means I have to be a good role model for my teammates, support my leader under all circumstances. Fortunately, I had multiple leadership experience before, and things started to come together as me and my teammates binded better. However, just like with great power comes great responsibility, the bigger the challenge, the more I can learn. Being a co-leader gave me a chance to see how the actual leader organizes the group, how to give people the proper help they need, and how to take responsible for everybody, and not to be egocentric.
All in all, the trip had taught me a lot in the way to not only be able to take care of myself and be independent, but also to be a great leader. Additionally, I had also met people from diverse culture on this trip and created a cross-cultural friendship, along with a network with every people on the trip.
Testimonials – Emily L
This summer, I went to a place that I never thought I would set a food in—-Ningxia. Ningxia has always been a distant and vague concept in my mind. I imagined this place as extremely dirty, poor, and ugly. But as our bus drove into the paths of the city of Tongxin, my view on this place changed completely. I started to look forward to the amazing experience would have in this beautiful and fresh cities. However, I soon realized that there are many challenges for me to face. As I look back at the challenges, I feel thankful, happy, and content.
The first challenge came on the first day in the village. We went to the elementary school in Da Gou Yan. The children were much shier than I had expected, which make it even harder for a quiet girl like me to approach them. Other students started to hover around the smiling children, immediately becoming friends. I stood in front of the blackboard awkwardly, not knowing what to do. Then I decided to talk to a boy sitting in the front row. I opened up with the basic topic of name and age. He seemed happy, showing me the new markers he got from us. Shockingly, we have the same hobby of drawing. We drew each other pictures, and he told me his dream of becoming an artist. I survived the first challenge and became his friend, out at the same time I was inspired by his hopefulness in such a harsh condition. After my short talk with him I learned to be more outgoing when it comes to meeting new people. I also realized the power of smile, and how it could break the walls between strangers easily.
I never imagined myself working in a farmland or planting onions under the scorching sun. However, this is exactly what I did every morning in the village. It was a difficult challenge for me, since I barely do anything farmwork related at home. I sighed at the bag of smelly onions and dirts, not wanting to touch it at all. But I still crouched down and started to dig in. I did not have much physical strength, so I could not plant the onions deep enough to absorb water and nutrients. Is was very frustrating. The sun shined even brighter, as if creating more adversities for on purpose. A farmer came to help us to plant. I suddenly realized how oblivious and irresponsible I was. The farmers planted everything on their own without any complaint, but there was still no guarantee that they could earn enough money to support their families. All the frustration was gone, and I started to work very hard, wanting to lessen their burden as much as I could. I learned that we should never take anything for granted, because it all comes from the sacrifice of someone else.
These challenges are only the two of the countless challenges I faced on this trip. Every problem I solved and every “mountain” I conquered proved that this trip was worth it. It is amazing to experience another culture and the people’s lives. I realized how fortunate I am to be here, to see another side of this constantly changing world.
Testimonials – Jerry Q
Throughout this whole trip, the challenges that I have faced were all a new experience. I have faced them and conquered them, yet new challenges keep coming. All of them have been a great learning experience and I find it one of the hardest ways to learn something. However, when the lesson is learned through challenges, it sticks with you for a longer period of time. Many of the challenges were from becoming a group leader, but some even came from the villagers themselves.
As a group leader, getting the whole team to cooperate and getting them to feel comfortable enough to communicate with each other was the hardest. One particular person was hard-headed and extremely difficult to get going. He was not completely a team player. I first had to break his outer shell to be able to dig deeper into him. I had no choice but to ask a teacher for some help. The shell was thick, but an adult easily broke it. When I tried again, I saw that only a portion of the shell was broken. That portion was the communication part of the person. He finally stuck with our group when we needed him and gave some good ideas that helped the group. I got him to contribute more suggestions and if was nice seeing the person finally become part of our group. The person still was not completely cooperating with our groups decision. I kept trying to tell him that it was temporary and I got him included with everything we did. He became familiar with another teammate after that and he start to agree with us even more. Another portion of the shell was gone. There is still one more portion which includes attitude which I still haven’t overcome yet. That is one challenge that will be a huge struggle, but I can’t wait to break the final portion so that we will be able to reach a good conclusion on our final project.
Our project includes interviewing and loaning villager from Ningxia some money. One of the villager families were really difficult to work with. They did not know what was going on and were really vague in their answers.
We went there in the morning and they happily invited us in to sit. We started to ask them many questions, but they answered it very quickly without giving us enough information. We figured out that they had no idea about the project until we came. I quickly thought to give them more time which helped a little when we went back. They really did have a hard time answering our questions the whole hour we were interviewing them. Their accents were really thick, but I figured out what they saying. Their tone was just a little different compared to ours. When we later went back to their house, they had a better plan put together and was a lot more open.
The challenges just sprinted from one seed which was communication. Most of the complications stated out with just some simple mistakes, but became bigger problems. These challenges have been great and I learned a lot from them. I still have many more to overcome, but I am definitely looking forward to it. Challenges make me a stronger and more independent individual.
Testimonials – Jonathan L
These past couple days have included a number of experiences that were either influential or ???. All together, this has definitely affected my life to an extent; in which I do no ??? anything that has happened. Through the farmwork, heart breaking interviews, and polite farmers, one major challenge that I encountered will never be forgotten. This major challenge actually began when we first arrived at the Tongxin Hotel, when we first checked in to our rooms. Seeing this old, beat up hotel room that was nearly untouched was a horrific, yet helpful experience. I was able to inherit me struggles many people must encounter on a daily basis.
It made me rethink how fortunate and lucky I am, my homesickness gradually evaporated, I was indirectly ordered to make this “horrible” hotel room my new home for the next week; a half. It took a lot of inner strength to swallow this place.
Another interesting challenge was having to use the restrooms in the village. They have minimal irrigation in the village, therefore even the richest households have only a hore surrounded by four walls and infinite ??
This trip has brought some challenges, but overall, it has been very enjoyable and life changing. Meeting many new friends from all over the globe, and being able to experience life with the poor.
Testimonials – Michelle Z
Life is always full of ups and downs. Life is never easy. Coming to an impoverished village in China was a challenge in itself. But it was a challenge that I looked forward to because I knew it’d only make me stronger. And within this challenge lies many other challenges. For example, I hate bugs; literally. If I see a butterfly, I will get out of the way. But this is just something small. Challenges, either small ones or big ones, only exist for the benefit of yourself.
This trip, I was given the opportunity to be a group leader. This, to me, is awesome, but it’s definitely a challenge. I’ve never been a talker, or much of leader. I’ve always been the good-girl, rule-following, quiet Asian kid, (for the most part).Everybody who knows me knows that. In the beginning, I thought I was put into an awkward position. I had never been the one to be in charge of people and tell them what to do. Nonetheless, I am leader, and I am learning new things along the way.
Another challenge I have to overcome is to “reject” people. We interview and get to know 3 families, and in the end, we can only loan money to 2 families. I honestly think I’m the type of person who wants to help everybody, if I can. When I go into the villager’s houses, I just feel like I have to help everyone, which isn’t actually possible. I’ve never been good at making decisions either. And in this case, this one decision can change someone’s life forever. What happens if we make the wrong decision? But of course, there are always going to be risk factors.
Also, we’ve been having some “late-night” meetings almost every day. During these meetings, we do a lot of sharing and reflecting upon personal experiences. This, to me, is also a challenge because I’ve never been one to willingly share my thoughts. I’m a thinker, a writer. I have to write about things to fulling process them in my head.
Farm work is just mother challenge I’m facing on this trip. It’s the first time I’ve actually done anything legit in the fields. After just 2 mere hours of pulling weeds, I felt like I was about to pass out. I was light-headed, and my back was killing me. But his was also an important experience, because it’s the honest village life, and I’m here to live the village life (during the day, at least). Just 2 hours of weeding killed me; I can’t even imagine being a farmer and weeding for a whole day.
Although there are many challenges that come with this trip, it’s definitely the highlight of my year so far. These challenges are here for a reason, to help me learn and grow as a person.
Testimonials – Shirlyn T
The hour before I got on the plane, I was still wondering why I had agreed to go on this trip for a second time. I felt that I had experienced enough before and it would just be a repetition of my previous trip. I took a risk when I decided to go on this trip, right before I got out of my car at the San Francisco Airport. I kept asking myself, “How is this trip going to be different from the last time?”. My question as slowly answered when I began to experience the Da Gou Yan Village again. Since the last trip, I feel that I matured enough to feel emotional attachment to the families we visited. My mindset of having children changed as well. This time, I felt more passionate to help the families because I could better understand their situation. Also, before this trip, I was fully against nanny children but my opinions were changed when I looked on in the eye….I can’t explain the feeling, but I began to be more open-hearted when I looked at children from that point.
On this trip, I also started to reflect on myself, and my personality, and I found some very ugly characteristics. Although I didn’t appreciate my lifestyle in America (as most people on this trip realized), I felt that I act pretty selfishly even though I sometimes know how I should act instead. For example, I kept taking sips of my milk tea in front of children who were probably thirsty, (not a good example but I can’t think of many right now). I also felt bad when I bite the food from the villagers and the children were starring.
Because I know that thing never get ford like this regularly, even though I hud attended this trip before, I felt that I was changed by this trip differently than last time, I started to reflect more on my personality rather than my lifestyle and my belongings. I believe that this trip allowed me to see parts about myself that I haven’t been able to before.