Last Thursday the CISB program invited Ed Bland, the president of Unitus to speak. Unitus is an international nonprofit organization that fights global poverty by accelerating the growth of microfinance. Before he joined Unitus, Ed received an M.B.A. from Yale School of Management and a B.A. from Bowdoin College, and was the General Manager in the Entertainment and Devices Divison at Microsoft.
It was fun and enlightening to hear him speak! The first thing he showed us was a video of how Unitus has helped individuals, so we got to hear about personal stories of how people living in poverty suffered, but then overcame their financial struggling with the help of small loans. One woman, with a $65 loan, showed just how resourceful one could be with a little bit of financial help. She gathered cast-off chicken heads and entrails and potatoes and made “chicken head sausages,” which are now very popular in her village. Pretty innovative, eh? Another woman who joined Grameen Koota received a loan of $200 dollars and started her own dress shop. Before Unitus stepped in, she said that it was difficult to even get one meal a day. Did you know that more than half the world lives on less than $2 a day? It’s definitely not enough to meet even the most basic human needs. An even more depressing fact is that in 2007, 9.2 million kids died before their fifth birthday because of poverty.
If you’re interested in helping alleviate global poverty, Ed says that there are plenty of ways to get involved. There are internships out there that deal with global poverty, like at Unitus, or you could donate money or start your own microfinance institution in the future. Plus, we also have our very own Social Entrepreneurship Club (SEC) and Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition run by the Global Business Center at the UW.
-Nancy Peng (Junior, Marketing & International Business)