May 26th, 2013 - No Comments
Social Entrepreneur Corps is a social enterprise that leads innovative and dynamic international internship programs in Guatemala, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Peru, and the Dominican Republic/Haiti. Social Entrepreneur Corps participants work with their sister organization Community Enterprise Solutions in the field supporting the creation, development, growth and impact of social innovations focused on intelligently and sustainably alleviating poverty.
Benefits of the program:
Social Entrepreneur Corps participants create sustainable impact in the field while gaining the perspectives, skills and knowledge to become the social entrepreneurs of the future. Through participation in innovative rural development work within a challenging cultural, language learning and grassroots environment, Social Entrepreneur Corps ensures that participants will gain insights into the opportunities, inherent risks and limitations involved in third world development. They will also have ample opportunities to significantly increase language proficiency. Students observe, learn and live in a diversity of cultural settings by living with a local family.
Through classes, case studies, discussions, analysis, living with the local population, as well as through visits and active participation with local NGOs and social entrepreneurs, interns will make a profound community impact while gaining an in-depth knowledge of rural economic development.
Types of assignments:
Interns work side-by-side with a team of international development and social entrepreneurship professionals to directly and measurably contribute to sustainable community social impact. The field work is always designed using community based desired outcomes as the starting point. Interns work with our MicroConsignment Model (http://socialentrepreneurcorps.com/microconsignment.html), provide grassroots consulting services (http://socialentrepreneurcorps.com/grassrootsconsulting.html), participate in community education initiatives (http://socialentrepreneurcorps.com/communityeducation.html) and more. In general, participants engage in six categories of field activities. These are needs analysis, feasibility analysis, project launch, support, expansion and evaluation.
Interns travel to a number of field sites during the program. Sites vary from program to program but in-country travel is a significant part of all internships.
The four-week summer programs cost $2,450 and the eight-week programs cost $3,950 (these prices do not include airfare). For complete cost information, visit http://socialentrepreneurcorps.com/summary.html.
Please visit http://socialentrepreneurcorps.com/applynow.html, read the instructions and click on the link to complete the online application.
April 1st, 2013 - No Comments
Birthright Excel is a 10- week summer fellowship program in Israel for American Jewish college students pursuing careers in business, technology, biotech, marketing, and social media. Each fellow (20-40 per summer) will complete an internship with a multi-national Israeli company. Past assignments have included Ernst & Young, Trigger Foresight, Petango, Sequoia, CheckPoint and DSP Group.
Benefits of the Program
1. Network – Students get an Israeli mentor and a US mentor as a permanent part of the fellowship.
2. Work experience
3. Explore all of Israel
4. Leadership – The program includes an annual conference and leadership development activities.
5. Exposure – The fellowship includes various conferences, speakers, and seminars.
Most assignments relate to business analytics, finance or consulting strategy.
The program is free, including flight, room and board, commuter costs, lunch at work, travel throughout Israel and programming events.
“I am wiser, more well rounded, better connected, and more prepared for my future for being a participant. I would not be where I am today personally, nor professionally without the experience I had with Birthright Excel.”- Ben Birnbaum, Smeal College of Business Student
Student should apply online at http://www.birthrightisrael.com/sites/excel/Pages/Default.aspx. There will be a series of interviews and then students will have their choice of several internship assignments to determine the one that best meets their interests and career goals.
February 22nd, 2013 - No Comments
Our International Internship Program offers 9-52 week placements at any FSD site with one of our 300 community partners. It’s an intense, immersive program for students and young professionals looking to gain international development experience and training. FSD works with community-based organizations in Argentina, Bolivia, India, Kenya, Nicaragua, and Uganda in areas of microfinance, health, youth development, education, gender equity, human rights, and environmental sustainability. Our Site Team staff are there every step of the way for technical, safety & security, and cross-cultural support.
Unlike programs that offer ‘volunteerism’ or ‘volunteer vacation’, our International Internships are for people sincerely interested in sustainable development and global community development initiatives. Participants learn and practice project design and management, community assessments, grant proposal writing, monitoring and evaluation, and other key skills that accelerate academic and career development. In 2012, FSD earned the title of Top-Rated Nonprofit by GreatNonprofits and was named the “gold standard of global engagement programs” by The Huffington Post. FSD alumni have gone on to win Rhodes, Fulbrights and other merit-based scholarships, study at prestigious graduate schools, work for prominent international development organizations like UNICEF, PSI, DPK, and the World Bank, and even start their own international organizations.
What is included in the program?
- Airport pickup upon arrival
- Week-long orientation
- Family home stay with all meals provided
- Language trainings
- Ongoing community development trainings
- Cultural activities and reflection sessions
- Seed Grant and access to additional funding for projects
- Technical support for hands-on project development working with a community-based organization
- Midterm retreat and final debriefing session
- Medical evacuation and limited health insurance
- 24/7 safety and security support
- On-going in-country support from FSD site team and U.S. staff
- Access to FSD’s Alumni Connect Program
FSD Intern Alumni James Sarria participated in two trips with FSD as a UC Berkeley undergraduate in 2007 (one to Argentina and one to Nicaragua). He now serves as the Stanford Site Director of the Summer Math and Science Honors (SMASH) Academy, a 3-year 5-week summer math and science enrichment program that is free of cost for high-achieving, first generation high school students of color. Working with over 100 students throughout the SF Bay Area requires James to keep a global perspective in mind, and he credits FSD with helping him foster a cross-cultural understanding as well as a passion for service and volunteerism at a young age: “What FSD creates is an opportunity for passionate, ideal and young scholars to experience what can’t be replicated in a classroom. FSD supported my desire to connect with people that are just like me, but just happen to live in another part of the world. FSD does all that, from a local perspective, using local people, while hosting the world in some of the most critical places to understand the importance to be a global citizen.”
The FSD program fee covers all in-country costs and is 100% tax deductible for U.S. residents. Program costs average $4898 for 9 weeks and vary between program site and session length.
To apply for FSD’s programs, you submit the following: 1) the Application (found online); 2) Your CV/Professional Resume (in Spanish for Latin America Programs); 3) The $50 Application Fee. FSD San Francisco Staff will send all qualified applications to our International Site Teams, with each application going to the Site Team that corresponds to the applicant’s region of interest. After receiving a tentative host organization assignment, the Site Team will conduct an interview and placement will be finalized.
To learn more about the internship process and apply, please visit http://www.fsdinternational.org/programs/internship.
February 20th, 2013 - No Comments
Exela Ventures is an entrepreneurship program that organizes and leads student expeditions to Guatemala. Students will engage in marketing, business plan writing, public speaking, research, fundraising, writing, financial analysis, and web design. Students will travel through rural, urban, and suburban areas, jungles, volcanoes, forests, and deserts in Guatemala.
Program Benefits and Support
Interns gain valuable experience and have the opportunity to interact with leading entrepreneurs and activists. Exela Ventures has travel and housing accommodations for students. Furthermore, Exela has developed a highly effective and engaging pre-arrival, orientation, and post trip set of activities, reflections, discussions, and workshops.
The intern is responsible for raising funds to cover airfare (roughly $600). There is also a $300/week ground fee.
“It was an exciting adventure with a lot packed into 3 weeks; having read the students’ journals it is evident that much was learned in terms of language but especially in terms of sensitivity to the Guatemalan people and their culture, their struggles and challenges, and their indomitable spirit. Thank you to Exela Ventures for providing us this fascinating and unique study abroad opportunity. ”Patricia E. Webster, Ed.D. Professor of Spanish, Brenau University
“Our 2nd year International Development MBA students were given the unique opportunity to travel to Guatemala during the spring of 2011 to participate in one of Exela Ventures hands on education programs. That spring upon graduation, our students were asked to complete a survey to identify the most meaningful learning experience throughout their entire 2 year MBA experience. I was not surprised when the expedition to Guatemala was rated #1 by our students.” Dr. Gregory Chase, Professor of Business at Brenau University
“When I travel internationally with students, I want to focus on teaching and learning. With Exela Ventures, I could do just that. Demetri and his team took care of all the details – from selecting great service learning partners to making sure we were all well fed and cared for. Exela Ventures is clearly invested in making these trips a success for everyone involved – students, service-learning partners, professors, and all of the amazing people we met with in Guatemala.”- Prof. Patricia Shine, Associate Professor of Human Services, Lyndon State College
“I just want to express my appreciation and gratitude for all you did for our group. The organization, the activities, the personal attention and the caring for all was superb!” ~Joye Fuller, MBA Expedition 2011 with Brenau
Students are asked to submit a cover letter and resume for initial review. After this there will be a telephone interview.
To learn more please visit http://exelaventures.com.
October 30th, 2012 - No Comments
CRCC Asia Internship Program
What is the Program?
Our internship program gives students the opportunity to obtain a one, two, or three month long internship placement in either Beijing or Shanghai, China. We work with over 400 companies in China in a variety of sectors including business, finance, law, engineering, marketing, health care, green tech, tourism, NGOs, non-profits and more.
What is included in the program?
- Pre‐Departure & Visas
- Travel Cards
- Arrival & Orientation
- 24 hour Concierge
- Social & Cultural Activities
- Business & Networking Events
- Survival Chinese Lessons
- Support Network
- Alumni Network
- CRCC Asia Certificate
By joining our program, students gain hands on experience working in their industry while living in one of China’s most exhilarating cities. Interns return from the program with numerous transferable skills and knowledge of Chinese language, culture, history, and business practices.
We work with some of the top companies in China, which allows students to work in high paced environments on a variety of task based projects while building their resume and making long lasting business relationships.
Interns are provided with an international social experience and have the opportunity to meet people from China during their work experience as well as other interns from all over the world.
Support for Students
CRCC Asia interns are provided with 24/7 support from our team overseas. We have over 30 trained staff members who are available to assist interns with their transition and introduce them to life in China. Our program coordinators monitor the progress of the interns and help resolve any issues that may arise.
Upon arrival in China, all interns receive airport pickup and shuttle service to their apartment. The next day is an introduction day where they learn all about Chinese culture, how to get around in China, things to do and see, and what to look out for. Following introduction day is our welcome banquet where interns get the opportunity to socialize, eat a delicious meal, and get excited for their internship!
The program coordinators in Beijing and Shanghai also spend a great deal of time organizing social and cultural activities such as a karaoke night, dumpling making event, acrobat shows, walking tours, and charity weekends. CRCC Asia also arranges a variety of business and networking events.
Accommodations are included as part of the program and are centrally located in both cities, only minutes away from entertainment, food, and shopping. Interns have their own private room in a flat shared with two other interns. All accommodations have a kitchen, living room, and bathroom. Detailed information about the accommodations in each city can be found here. Pictures are in our photo gallery.
What kinds of assignments can a student expect?
Neal Fanton, August 2011 intern
“I was placed at an energy based company, which is an English based company with a branch in Beijing. I was given the project of conducting research into how to make China’s buildings more energy efficient. I found my project enjoyable and incredibly insightful. I had two meetings every week with my supervisor, where we would discuss my research and I could ask for help and discuss any concerns. I was also lucky enough to be able to attend business meetings with other companies, where I was able to ask questions about my project and find out more about this industry in China.”
CRCC Asia offers an opportunity for interns to participate in the Dragon Trip, which is a fantastic way to explore China’s historical sites and rich cultural heritage. Options include taking a weekend trip to Hangzhou, where you will try new cuisine, experience a diverse nightlife and partake in a variety of outdoor activities such as boating on Westlake and hiking through a bamboo forest in Moganshan.
The full 18- day Dragon Trip adventure can be done before or after the internship and includes travel to the best sites in China. Highlights are a motorcycle tour of Yangshuo’s countryside, spotting wild pandas in the QinLing Mountains of Sichuan, seeing the ancient Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an and camping overnight on the Great Wall of China
Applying to the program is simple. Visit www.crccasia.com/apply, complete the application form and attach your resume. Shortly thereafter, you will be contacted by one of our offices to arrange a short interview to talk about your internship placement. If we think we can match you with one of our partner companies, we will give you an offer into the program.
Ethan Rubin, July 2012 Intern (Yeshiva University)
“CRCC Asia not only enhanced my business skills but also helped round me as a more adept and cultural individual. Spending my days in the office was a pleasure, as I was surrounded by professionals that welcomed me with open hands. The work was interesting and the environment as warm and friendly as could be. I couldn’t have enjoyed my leisure time more, hanging with other interns from across the globe. We kicked back together at night and went sight seeing to the most magnificent places during the day. CRCC Asia will, without a doubt, be an experience you will never forget.”
Please visit the website below for more information on the program:
October 15th, 2012 - No Comments
Ariel Prochowski, Sophomore, Business Administration
July 29, 2012
Earlier in the second week of my program all the Global Brigades interns from all disciplines (microfinance, medical, and water) were fortunate enough to meet Allen Gula and Orion Haas, the cofounders of Global Brigades Ghana. They gave us a lecture on missions and visions. The point of this was to get each intern to think about what sort of impact we would like to have not only in Ghana, but also in the future in each of our respected fields of study. The three questions we were asked to answer were the following: To do what? For or with whom? To achieve what or why?
In order to help facilitate this process of getting intact with ourselves, we had a discussion about two of the most important things we have heard a community member say, two most memorable things we have seen so far (two happy things, and two things that made us sad), and one impact that we hope to have as individuals. Two of the most important things I have heard are the following: “Things will get better” and “Use your limited resources, and be as efficient as possible when assisting others.” The first statement was made by the President of the Community Development Fund in Ekumfi Abuakwa, and his optimism was referring to the state of the Fund. The next statement was made by Allen Gula, both the cofounder of GB Ghana and a chief in one of the local communities, in his speech about microfinance. The two most positive memorable things I have seen are older siblings taking care of their younger siblings, and smiling children. The negative things I cannot shake from my mind are the loads of people competitively trying to sell their products on the streets and highways, and the quality of “drinking water” in the communities. My impact is to improve the quality of life for the community members by working with their finances.
After this exercise, we were asked to write our temporary missions and visions for our long-term lives. My mission reads as follows: To comprehend, challenge, and improve the American economy by cooperating with confident individuals tending to encourage individual endeavor, resourcefulness, and aggressive effort along lines making for the development of a superior thriving society; to promote and raise a healthy and loving family with moral values and ambition.
We were next asked to define success in one word, to jot down a few things we would like to have in an ideal world, and to write how we anticipate our emotions to be after the internship is over. I defined success as improvement, and wrote the following: family, living by the beach, financial comfort, friends, travel, pets, and garden. Fifteen days from now, I will have made a difference in the world-not a big one, but a little one. Working with one underprivileged community out of the thousands will show me just how lucky I am to live in the U.S. and will teach me not to take certain simple aspects of life for granted. Some of these include clean drinking water, well-functioning banks & abundant businesses, and the availability of medical professionals. Our impact in Ghana will be felt. The Community Fund will be on the path to superior development, clean and sustainable drinking water projects will be implemented, and community members will know how to live a healthier lifestyle.
During the second week, we had also begun thinking about what we would like our major projects to encompass for the duration of this internship. Since I am a microfinance intern and have a keen interest in Finance & Economics, I considered working on the improvement of the Community Development Fund in Ekumfi Abuakwa.
October 1st, 2012 - No Comments
Red River Foods, Inc.: Part II, Malatya, Turkey
Serkan Saka, Senior, Marketing Major
My second week was very exciting and full of wonderful learning experiences. On behalf of a negotiation that took place in the heart of Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, Ali and I were set out for a meeting with a few clients from an importer of dried fruits located from Spain by the name of King Regal Incorporated.
On that Monday we welcomed the two purchasers of the company around noon at the Istanbul Airport and decided to have lunch at a local downtown café. I attended the lunch for observation purposes to see how a negotiation took place (I wasn’t allowed to directly negotiate with the two gentlemen.) At a first glance the two gentlemen, whose names were Adan and Felipe, seemed very aggressive, but as we all were soon acquainted they were extremely friendly and might I add comical. During lunch we feasted on some kebab and a colorful salad while talking about anything besides business- sports, fashion, and culture.
The discussion grew much more formal as we got to reach our negotiation settlements. It was very interesting to see how the negotiation tactics took place- from talking about which products the buyer was interested in to exactly which shipping ports the buyer wanted. After several hours of observing the negotiations, I realized that no contract had actually been signed and wondered if a sale actually took place. I soon found out that most of the actual contracting happens behind the scenes and not in person. I thought that this was a bit strange and unusual from the type of business we are used to in the United States.
After the business negotiations took place, which lasted four or five hours, Adan and Felipe had set out to fly back to Valencia, Spain. It was surprising to see how little time they actually spent in Istanbul. However, my mentor Ali and I had two more nights in Istanbul to relax and sightsee. On that Tuesday we spent the day sightseeing and doing a lot of walking. Wednesday morning we had our flight back to Malatya.
This was a great trip and learning opportunity.
September 26th, 2012 - No Comments
DHL International Supply Chain Internship
Hong Kong, Yantian, Shanghai, Ningbo, Ho Chi Minh
Studying logistics in Asia is an experience that I will never forget. By being at the origin point, working for a top rated 3PL and witnessing the operations, I was able to learn how top retailers manage their logistics network.
My internship was based out of Hong Kong where my day to day operations were project based. I worked with the DHL Service Delivery team to generate vendor compliance solutions for our customers. As a team we worked with the top retailers of the world to analyze their Standard Operating Procedures in comparison with their vendor’s ability to comply with due dates to determine the best practice.
Bonded Warehouse – Shenzhen, China
53 Foot Container – Changjiang, China
In addition to my day to day job with Service Delivery in Hong Kong. I traveled with business development to meet and negotiate terms with clients. The meetings took place in the office, on the golf course, and at dinners. At these meetings business development negotiated DHL’s ability to bring retailers supply chains into foreign countries, terms and conditions for Value Added Services, and sell the synergies DHL can create for perspective clients. I learned that there are two parts to Business Development of equal importance. The first part takes place inside the office and consists of learning everything about the client so you are able to determine their needs prior to even meeting them. This part also requires the team to prepare for the arrival of clients in terms of making sure their trip to Asia is smooth. Doing the little things such as providing clients with transportation, welcome gifts, and setting up activities can go a long way when clients are uncertain if they will choose DHL or a competitor. The second part is the entertaining of clients to create personal relationships with them. This job can be the more difficult of the two, as it requires members of the Business Development team to be away from their families after work hours and on weekends to create time to network with clients. This is done through networking at bars, dinners at restaurants, and golfing at golf courses throughout China. The biggest learning point I took away from spending time with the team was that the customer always comes first. As long as customers are satisfied and new clients choose DHL, the Business Delivery team is successful and the limits for them to find this success have no boundaries.
CMIT Port – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
YICT Port – Yantian, China
Working for DHL at the product origin point in Asia created an incredible environment for me to learn about the side of supply chain many Americans never get to witness. I visited Bonded Warehouse Yards, Nonbonded Warehouses, Air Freight Operations, Ocean Freight Operations, Ports, Manufacturing Facilities, and Retail Negotiations. In addition to the incredible supply chain learning experience, I also was immersed in numerous cultures that were very diverse.
My primary residence of Hong Kong is truly the melting pot of the world. It is a place full of American and European culture in the heart of Asia. The city reminded me of New York in terms of the skyscrapers, nightlife and opportunity. The buildings are all very upscale on the main island and cater to business, the night life is worldly as you meet people from all countries, and the fields of Finance and Supply Chain Management thrive for all community members.
A major difference between Hong Kong and New York was the cleanliness and efficiency of the subway system. As a city that is much smaller than New York, the city’s underground tunnel system is able to cover a much more comprehensive amount of area. This is critical for commuters to escape the intense heat and humidity by creating an air conditioned environment accessible to nearly everywhere in the city.
The people of Hong Kong are very generous and proud of their city. When traveling through their city, they push you to try all of the diverse types of food (Chinese, German, Italian, Australian, American, Korean etc.). They also create a fantastic work environment and are extremely team oriented, there is no such phrase as “This is not my job” in the work place with a native from Hong Kong. The city environment is incredible, it is impossible to walk down the road without having someone trying to sell you a suit, jewelry, or meal (needless to say negotiation skills become critical).
Hong Kong Island
Beautiful Asian Architecture
September 14th, 2012 - No Comments
Elizabeth Romilo Dingcong,
Junior Accounting Major
What is your perception of the business culture in Manila?
Although I have not had experience in a U.S. firm, I expect that the business cultures differ significantly. Typical office hours are 8:30AM to 6PM Monday-Friday. Generally, Filipinos are naturally “laid-back” individuals. This characteristic greatly reflects in the work place. One of things I was most surprised about is how the staff often asks personal questions that may be considered “inappropriate” in the States. By now, I’m very used to being asked if I have a boyfriend or if I’m attracted to anyone in the building. At first, I felt the questions inappropriate, but over time I learned that these are very common, fair questions that aren’t meant to embarrass or unease me. I am currently the only American intern, so naturally the staff is very curious about me.
An obvious obstacle I have to overcome every day is the language barrier. Having a Filipino background, I understand Tagalog well enough to get by. I do not, however, consider myself fluent. Also, my American accent sometimes makes it hard for the staff to understand and relate to me. I found this the most difficult part of my whole experience. The staff gladly speaks English to me, but when speaking, I have to make sure I am very clear and concise; using words and phrases that aren’t obscure in order to be properly understood.
As I said before, the office is very laid-back and friendly. People are always offering food to you (its best to take it even if you’re not hungry.) In Filipino culture, elders are always shown the highest level of respect. In the office, you address your superiors as Miss or Sir, followed by their first name. Partners of KPMG are addressed by their initials. For example Sir Jose P. Javier is addressed as JPJ. This is to show their high position in the partnership.
What skills have you obtained on this international internship?
My assignments are mainly administrative work on Excel. Prior to this internship, I considered my knowledge of Excel mediocre. As of now, I am very comfortable with the program. I learn new Excel skills every day and I consider it one of the greatest skills I have taken from KPMG.
I am in charge of the attendance of the associate auditors and also their time and expense reports. Because these directly effect their pay, it is important for the associates to communicate with me. This gives me a chance to practice my Tagalog skills. Even though they are fluent in English, they express themselves much better in Tagalog. I have actually come to prefer that they speak Tagalog to me because it makes them more comfortable. After a few weeks, I found myself comfortable speaking basic Tagalog.
I am asked to look for computation mistakes in financial statements for the associate auditors. Even though it is mainly basic verification of addition, any kind of exposure to financial statements is very important as an accounting major. I now know the flow of financial statements and how to properly read them.
Culture & Social Skills
One of the most important things I have learned is to remain open-minded. I feel this is the only way to fully experience my time abroad. I took the opportunity to put myself out there and make a true effort to make friends. Through this, I have learned so much about myself and my culture, and I when I leave here, I will take away many friends. The social skills I have developed here is a skill that I truly value the most.
What have you learned that will help you reach your career goals?
The skills I have listed above are all considered valuable in the business world. The opportunity to experience an International Internship with a Big 4 Accounting firm will greatly enhance my resume and has provided me with interesting topics and stories that I can discuss with recruiters during the employment process.
Having experience in a firm is very marketable to employers. I understand how the partnership operates. Also, I hope that the fact that I’ve worked abroad will open many doors to me. I am very interested in traveling and working with multinational companies and feel comfortable experience foreign culture. Although my internship is still ongoing, I am working hard to obtain a job offer from KPMG. If I am successful, the Philippines would be an amazing option for me. In terms of the far future, I plan to keep in touch with the friends I have made here. Most of them are CPA professionals. I feel that having a close network abroad gives me an edge that a company would greatly value.
What advice do you have for students seeking an international internship?
BE OPEN-MINDED. If there’s any advice I can give someone interested in interning abroad, it’s just that. My particular internship is not paid. I do get reimbursed for travel fees and meals. Although it sounds unappealing to intern at KPMG for free, think of it as an investment in your career. You may be given tasks and assignments that have nothing to do with your field of study, see it as an opportunity to gain a new skill.
ASK QUESTIONS. If there is a language barrier, make sure you understand and are understood properly. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to repeat themselves. English is the common language among business, so you are actually doing them a favor by forcing them to speak and practice their English. In return, they are doing you a favor by familiarizing you with their language. Be willing to acquire a new language. This is by no means an easy task, but learning basic words and phrases will really be helpful.
DON’T BE OVER SENSITIVE. When you experience a new culture in the business world, you may find yourself being stared at a lot. Know that most people are polite. People are naturally curious of foreigners. It is important to not take mind to comments that you might find offensive. Most of the time, they’re not trying to offend you.
MAXIMIZE YOUR EXPERIENCE. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. For the time you are there, adopt the culture and what it values as your own. Even if you find that its not your cup of tea, respect the fact that you have a very special opportunity and take every chance you have to learn something.
DO IT. If you have any chance to intern abroad, I suggest you go for it. It’s an intern experience that will likely be one of a kind.
August 6th, 2012 - No Comments
Ariel Prochowski, Sophomore, Business Administration
After spending one week in the city of Mankessim, Ghana for my Global Brigades Microfinance Internship, I have to say that I am nothing but stunned. I have been educating myself not only culturally, but also professionally due to the supportive staff here in Africa.
As soon as I arrived, I was taken to a nearby rural community named Ekotsi, where I went “church-hopping,” a term used for interns that spend 15 minutes in one church with a particular religion, until they move on to the next one. I was fortunate enough to be taken to three different churches, where I experienced a variety of cultures that involved singing, dancing, and of course, praying. The people here seem to be content with every aspect of life, no matter how underprivileged they are.
The next day was spent learning the native language of Mfanste [Fante]. This was a remarkable experience where I got to learn yet another language, one that surely makes me stand out from other students, especially since the language is not very popular outside of the Central region of Ghana. I have learned everything from the alphabet to the vowels to greetings, and of course simple, yet crucial everyday phrases like ‘Wofre mi Kwesi!’ (My name is Kwesi). In Ghana, one is referred to by the day of the week on which he/she is born. Since I was born on a Sunday, my name is Kwesi!
Professionally, I have done business consulting work in two communities so far. I have spent entire days with families, where I would partake in their everyday activities, while consulting about their finances. So far, I have worked with the chief of a community, who is also a part-time farmer, with a carpenter, and with an elderly couple who are also farmers. Most of the families I spoke with had expansion plans for their businesses and wanted to send their children off to college in the future. However, they are all having financial issues! Unfortunately many of them believe that they need loans to stay afloat financially, and I am here to show them that a savings culture is essentially what they need, instead.
As a Global Brigades microfinance intern, I have a variety of assignments I need to complete. I have to setup a banking system with loans, foster a culture of savings, develop the Community Development Fund so that it includes savings, shares, and loans, and work on the Shareholder model.
The main issue I have found within the communities is that there is a credit culture instead of a savings culture. Much of what is purchased within the communities is bought with credit. Consequently, some people repay their money, while others do not. This leaves people in debt cycles where instead of building savings, they are paying off their debt! Everybody wants a loan, but they do not even know what they need it for. They do not realize that they can actually just save up the money instead. For example, after consulting with a community member, she told me that she wanted to take out a loan of 100 Ghana Cedis (approximately $50). To her, this seemed like a significant amount of money, but I explained to her that if she saved 1 Cedi every day for a little bit over three months, she would have that 100 Cedis! She would have no interest to worry about, and the Community Fund would not have to worry about getting back its money. After I explained this philosophy to her, I saw her eyes lighten up and I knew it was her lightbulb moment. She completely agreed with what I told her, and she promised she would do exactly as told. Four days later, I checked up on her, and instead of having saved only four Cedis, she already has eight! This is a remarkable feeling.