Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Habitat for Humanity/Whirlpool Corporation first-ever campus build

Outside of Indiana Football’s Memorial Stadium, near the intersection of Indiana 45/46 and Dunn Street, Habitat for Humanity has been building a house since Thursday, September 23. Habitat is partnering with Whirlpool Corporation on the build. It is amazing how much progress has already been made. The build should be completed on October 2. Today, Kelley School of Business’s Dean Smith was on site helping out. Many IU students are volunteering to help build the house, including many students from Kelley and the Undergrad Civic Leadership Development group and the MBA Kelley Cares group. Indiana Bloomington’s Provost and Executive Vice President Karen Hanson was also helping out today.
The house is being built for Trish Vosekas, who has been living in Bloomington since 1985. Trish is very excited about her new house and is very thankful to everyone helping out. The student volunteers wrote messages to Trish on the walls of the building. When asked about the messages Trish stated, “They all were heart filled and extremely touching. By signing the house I feel the messages that the students wrote to me. Now my walls can talk.” Trish is on site everyday – building and making sure that the area near the build site doesn’t create pollution, by taking it upon herself to clean up all the stray trash, nails, packaging, etc. She wants even her temporary yard to be neat!
By Oct. 2, Indiana University will have the first completed Habitat for Humanity/Whirlpool Corporation build on a college campus. This really says a lot about how Indiana University gives back to its community. It is setting a standard for other universities around the country. Trish is so thankful to the college students that are taking time out to help build her house. Other schools should definitely join IU by bringing a Habitat for Humanity build to their campus!

Guest Post submitted 9/27/10 by IU junior, Matt Kamenitz.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Social Impact through women entrepreneurs

After spending nine days in Fiji, I am convinced this experience has changed my life forever. 

I can highlight so many things about this trip, but the best was being part of this amazing project whose main objective is to make a positive impact in the life of women entrepreneurs and their families. That’s definitively one of the things I always wanted to get from my MBA, and it happened!

We met our goal; we interviewed 101 women who never stopped surprising us with their stories. They were so open to share their ideas, their culture and even welcome us at their homes. I am so impressed with the enormous potential that this country has, not only because it is so rich in terms of material resources but also because its people are great – including all the organizations that are willing to help and improve the life of these communities. 

Throughout these days, we gained a better understanding of the importance of the role of culture in Fijian microfinance and the huge need for projects like SPBD’s to make a real impact in the life of these communities.

I can’t wait for SPBD to start operations and know how the life of these women and their families is being changed.

Guest blog entry provided by Rocio Ortiz, 2011 Kelley MBA Candidate, Indiana University

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fijian Salt Entrepreneurs

The past two days have been invaluable to our project. Yesterday we were able to meet with a group of women in Ba who make a variety of traditional crafts, primarily for Fijian events such as weddings and funerals. The women make the majority of their crafts by hand, and it was amazing to see the time and effort that went into their work.

We were then able to meet with “friend” an organization in Fiji which works with women on income generation initiatives. Generally, the women friend works with are more interested in making a business out of their work, and it would appear these women would make excellent use of a microfinance opportunity.

Finally, we met with a village that makes traditional Fijian salt. This was our most productive visit to date. The women of this village are extremely entrepreneurial and are anticipating turning their salt into a real commercial product. The village will be a place where tourists can come and watch the traditional salt being made…for a price of course. Upon leaving, tourists will be allowed to buy the salt, known for its restorative properties…again, for a price.

These big plans all come at a cost though, and this is where microfinance could really help. Additionally, these women could benefit from advisory services which an MFI could provide.

Today we’re in Suva, and have several meetings on the agenda. We’ll be sure to keep the blog up to date as we conclude our time here in Fiji. As much as we’re all missing Kelley, it will be hard to leave the people and island of Fiji.

Guest blog post provided by Matt Hutchens, Kelley MBA 2011.

I Have No Dignity, But I Have My Costume…

After a successful Friday working with Microfinance West and vendors in Lautoka and Veisese, we decided to spend another day learning from entrepreneurs at the Lautoka market.

This time Dr. Sharma, our new friend and dean of the UniFiji business school, escorted us there and helped us track down a man called the Market Master. Before today, we weren’t really aware that the market had a master, but apparently all the Fijian town markets have them; Lautoka’s Market Master is Ponsamy Mudaliar. He was kind enough to spend about an hour talking to us, explaining his role and his perspective on how the market operates. As the master, his primary responsibility is to collect daily market fees, but he also sees himself as the person who the vendors can come to for help with whatever needs they may have. (Luckily for the market vendors, he’s a benevolent master.) As yet, he hasn’t been involved with any of the microfinance companies in operation, but given his prominent position in the market he is definitely a useful connection for anyone wanting to work with small business owners who sell at the Lautoka market.

Mr. Mudaliar introduced us to an amazing woman named Makareta Rika, who has worked in the market for 41 years, and who currently serves as President of the Lautoka Market Vendors Association (an organization comprised of about 1,200 small business owners). She is a gracious and kind woman, and she knows just about everything about anything that goes on or has gone on in the market. She introduced us to several handicraft vendors who we then interviewed for our microfinance study.

After we put in a few hours speaking to women in the Lautoka market (we’ve spoken to about 40 women so far), our driver Ravin took us to a beach he knew about on the west side of the island. It was down a long dirt road and there weren’t many people there, but we did run across a group of boys who were busy burying one of their friends in the sand. They claimed they had killed him, but his breathing betrayed their story. Since they weren’t killers, we talked to them for a while, and Melanie in passing asked if they could climb the trees by the beach. Not only could they climb the trees, as it turned out, but they could also throw down coconuts, produce machetes seemingly out of thin air, and cut the coconuts open for us to drink. When we finished drinking coconut milk, they cut the coconuts open, fashioned spoons out of the coconut shells, and gave them to us to eat. I felt pretty silly and useless as a sheltered American at that moment, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the coconut.

Walking back along the beach, we met a group of young men who called us over to where they were sitting. We told them what we were doing in Fiji, and, taking us to be business experts, they asked us a lot of questions about how credit cards work. The idea that a person could take out a loan with a card and instantly use it to pay for something like a vacation was fascinating to them. We tried to warn them about the dangers of consumer debt, so hopefully they won’t fall into the trap that most of America fell into.

As we were leaving, one of them got the idea to trade T-shirts with me. I have no idea where he got the shirt he offered me (he wasn’t wearing it himself, and it was purple with pink lettering), but I went ahead with the trade. The exchange might have been Fijian “kari kari” in action, but I’m not really sure. In any case, now he’s got a Kelley School of Business t-shirt and I’ve got a T-shirt that is about two sizes too small and says, “I have no costume, but I have my dignity.” In a nice pretty script. Wearing the shirt back to the hotel, I doubted if either of those assertions was true. In fact, the opposite was probably more a lot more accurate.

I plan to present the T-shirt to Dr. Powell as evidence of our Fijian cultural immersion, so feel free to stop by his office and check it out. We’ll write more soon!

Guest blog post provided by Jacob Hiatt, Kelley MBA 2011.