CRS representative aids student group with microfinance project

Elisabeth Roche

Guy Vanmeenen, expert on microfinance and esteemed member of Catholic Relief Services, visited campus March 24 to speak with Peggy Chaudhry’s international comparative management class.

He also held an informal conversation with the Business/Engineering Sustainable Vision working group. The interdisciplinary group received a Sustainable Visions Grant from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance for a project in the Ifugao region of the Philippines to encourage entrepreneurship in the island nation.

Vanmeenen is responsible for CRS’s microfinance programming for all of Africa. He spoke to the classes about how to create microfinance programs to benefit third world countries and address poverty.

Students in the Sustainable Vision group were able to create a dialogue with Vanmeenen concerning how microfinance would work specifically for Ifugao, and the next steps in trying to implement it in this region.

Microfinance is the provision of small loans to people in poverty to encourage them to engage in entrepreneurial activities.

This community-wide project typically benefits all parties involved, providing citizens with their first reliable banking system which can provide them with credit to borrow money, a place for savings and even insurance.

Vanmeenen is currently stationed in Nairobi and is visiting the United States to speak to college students concerning forming a partnership in creating microfinance programs.The lecture was open to the public and many students curious about microfinance were in attendance.

The visit was organized by Suzanne Toton, the coordinator for the Villanova/Catholic Relief Services Partnership and a theology and religious Studies professor.