The Membership Development Committee aims to educate members and the academic community at-large about issues regarding microfinance and social enterprise. This involves both internal and external education on microfinance news, studies, events, and publications. The goal of this team is both to raise members' awareness of the concept of microfinance and to spread the knowledge gained from this understanding to the rest of the Indiana University community. This team is currently looking to compete in, host, or write a competitive microfinance case which will allow students to create innovative solutions to solve poverty problems using microfinance. The Membership Development Committee is also hosting a weekly microfinance "forum" which faciliates discussion of current microfinance articles and events. For the future, the Membership Development Committee would love to create a microfinance or social enterprise-focused course at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University in order for the student academic community to get fully engaged in this idea of a broader scope of business.
TMI hosted its first-ever Gumball Challenge in the fall of 2011 by partnering with Gumball Capital of Stanford University. This unique competition gave students the opportunity to learn firsthand about the power of microfinance and innovation - teams received $27 and 27 gumballs and had ten days to earn as much money as they could to repay the $27 and fund a microfinance-related organization of their choice. With over eight teams competing, the competition featured many creative ideas, raised hundreds of dollars for Kiva microloans, and proved to be a great experience for all students involved. The Gumball Challenge team is currently working on improving the competition for next year. They are looking to increase campus awareness of the challenge, raising more money as an incentive for others to get involved, contacting potential sponsors and judges, both professionals and educators and also improving the efficiency of the challenge itself.
Over the past two years, TMI has been lucky enough to visit various microfinance institutions (MFI's) in Chicago to learn more about microfinance from the people who actually work in the field. Members have met and networked with people from two different organizations, Opportunity International and Accion, who work in both an international and domestic setting. Members gained invaluable knowledge from employees, hearing each organization's relative strengths, weaknesses and the challenges faced by MFI's. TMI members actually had lunch with representatives of Opportunity International and Accion at a restaurant that was started with the help of one of Accion's domestic loans, providing members with a concrete example of the effectiveness of domestic microfinance. This trip is typically a highlight for many TMI members as it gives us real-world examples of microfinance in action. This year, TMI will return to Chicago on February 23-24 in order to give members another fantastic opportunity to witness actual MFI's at work.
The primary mission of the speaker project team is to secure a guest speaker on the topic of microfinance to benefit the members of TMI and the IU community. The committee focuses on brainstorming ideas for potential speakers and researching the feasibility of securing these individuals. Once a speaker is selected, the committee will continue to manage the logistics of selecting a date for the speaker, reserving a space on campus, advertising the event beyond TMI, and managing the guest's schedule while he/she is visiting. In the past the TMI Speaker Committee has successfully helped bring speakers such as: Jessica Jackley (Co-founder of Kiva.org), Blake Mycoskie (Founder of TOMS Shoes), Raphael Tyson (Founder of Kingsbridge Microfinance), and a microfinance panel featuring many prominent MFI's. This year, the committee is looking to secure one "big" speaker as well as to host a smaller "panel" of speakers. Please contact email@example.com if you are interested in helping the committee out with speakers!
TMI held its first-ever Two Dollar Challenge at Indiana University in the spring of 2010 with only seven people participating, but as the event has grown every year, it has become an integral part of the Indiana University culture. The Two Dollar Challenge Committee is currently working on hosting the event for the third year in a row and is planning on having over 40 TMI members participating while also extending the challenge outside of TMI. The purpose of the challenge is to raise poverty awareness and begin conversations about microfinance. Students pledge to live off of $2/day for two days. With these tight monetary constraints, participants ate PB&Js, camped outside of the Union, didn't use phones or laptops, and were without access to showers or comfort items. The TDC committee set-up a table in Dunn Meadow so that students could see what we were doing- and ended up raising over $200 for a micro-loan in the process. Our event garnered great public attention, and was covered on the front page of the IDS. This spring, we'll be having another Two Dollar Challenge which we hope will be even more of a success.