1. Form a Diverse Learning Community:
All are welcome to join our community: students, instructors, microfinance professionals, researchers, and enthusiasts; chief executive officers and loan officers; small, medium and large-scale microfinance institutions; microfinance institutions that operate in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Pakistan, South Africa, the United States… anywhere. Diversity in our community will be accompanied by a diversity of experiences, beliefs, and narratives regarding microfinance. Voices from the mainstream and voices of dissent are welcome. Regardless of your level of engagement in microfinance you have a place in our community.
2. Foster Nuanced Conversation:
We have a lot of questions. Some are expansive: When does the pursuit of scale come at the expense of clients? Does microfinance help move clients out of poverty? Others are specific: What is a fair interest rate to charge? Which fees are consistent with client-centered microfinance? Answers are good. But, conversation – nuanced conversation – that allows for ambiguities and explores the tensions at the heart of client-centered microfinance is even better.
3. Facilitate Connections between Students and the Microfinance Community:
We want to prepare students to become the next generation of client-centered microfinance practitioners through sharing valuable educational experiences and events with today’s microfinance professionals. Simultaneously, we want to reconnect today’s microfinance professionals, experts, and enthusiasts with their “inner-student”. Our “inner-student” welcomes being asked to prove her assumptions and allows herself to be challenged without feeling threatened. For our “inner-student” when “experts” tell him how the world is and how the world works, his instinctive response is not to nod his head in agreement but to question, question, question. We want to remind the microfinance community of its founding motivation – improving the lives of clients and their families.