“We are engaged in a work that God has set his hand to accomplish…to introduce correct principles of every kind—principles of morality, social principles, good political principles…the Lord has called us…to be his co-adjutors and co-laborers.” — John Taylor
Since 1989, I have labored to pioneer the emerging field of microfinance to fight global poverty. My OB 660 seminar in 1989 launched the creation of Enterprise Mentors International (EMI) in the Philippines. By 2004, EMI had grown to 20 offices in 5 countries. My Third World Development course (OB 551) provided technical assistance throughout the 1990s to the Ouelessebougou-Utah Alliance, expanding several programs and creating a new village bank system in Mali, West Africa. My OB 679 NGO Management course (co-taught) provided technical assistance in the restructuring of the Andean Children’s Fund, and during that semester, it evolved into a new NGO, Chasqui Humanitarian. Chasqui provides microentrepreneurial training to poor villagers in the Sacred Valley of the Inca, Peru, as well as in Bolivia. It now offers programs in women’s empowerment, literacy, school building, greenhouse gardens, and other forms of appropriate technology such as square-foot gardening methods, etc. Some two dozen of my BYU students have been volunteer interns with Chasqui.
HELP International grew out of my OB 321/OB 490 Social Entrepreneurship course (1998-1999) in response to the devastation of Hurricane Mitch in Central America. Since then 300 students have volunteered as social entrepreneurs in 7 nations providing community service, microloans, consulting, and training in virtually all areas of humanitarian need. The International Development Network, Humanitarian Link, Acción Contra la Pobreza (ACP), Action Against Poverty, and other second-degree NGOs have been created by BYU students, alumni, and me to provide training and support services to new humanitarian NGO start-ups.
Beginning in 1997, several BYU faculty, a Provo entrepreneur, students, and I founded a new Marriott School Committee to Alleviate Family Poverty for building self-reliance. Over the next several years the Journal of Microfinance was started as the first academic, refereed publication in the field of microcredit. The committee launched the 1st Annual MicroEnterprise Conference and it has continued to be held at BYU every year since 1998. Various new courses were developed, and funds were raised for student internships and field research with NGOs around the globe. Committee members expanded their studies of microentrepreneurship and presented papers at dozens of conferences across the world. The committee boasted visits from leading microcredit visionaries such as Muhammad Yunus (founder of Grameen Bank), John Hatch (founder of FINCA), Sam Daley-Harris (founder of the Microcredit Summit), and Kathleen Gordon (founder of MicroBusiness USA). I served as an advisor and helped students at BYU to start-up the Grameen Club, the Ouelessebougou Club, and the new FINCA Chapter, each of which became the first of its kind on any U.S. campus. We also helped create Students for International Development at BYU, a Net Impact chapter, and BYU’s Development Alliance, a coalition of seven student clubs on campus. Our Marriott School committee also initiated other new NGO start-ups such as Chasqui, HELP International, Acción Contra la Probreza in Honduras, Yehu Bank in Kenya, and the Academy for Creating Enterprise (ACE) in Cebu, Philippines. ACE is the result of committee member Steve Gibson’s innovative work to train LDS returned missionaries in becoming Filipino entrepreneurs over a two-month intense MBA boot camp type of experience.
Ultimately our efforts led to obtaining the BYU board of trustees approval and secured an initial $3 million donation to establish the Center for Economic Self-Reliance at the Marriott School. Under the Center’s umbrella, past programs and action research is expanding, more faculty and students are becoming involved, and the earlier Committee to Alleviate Family Poverty’s agenda has been accomplished. Through these efforts, I hope that a greater level of quality of life, as well as happiness, will be experienced by those who now suffer, for the purpose of people’s lives is “that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 3:25).
“Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole end and aim of human existence.” —Aristotle
“All the animals except man know that the principal business of life is to enjoy it.” —Samuel Butler
“The mission of the Church is to…transform society so that the world may be a better, more peaceful place.” — David O. McKay