– By Mary McBride
The New York Women Social Entrepreneurs (NYWSE) brought together a great group of people interested in social finance interested in effecting change. Mia Feldman of JP Morgan Social Finance Group hosted the event at Chase Manhattan Plaza, Conference Center.
This NYWSE event was developed by Pratt Design Management alum and social entrepreneur, Kari Litzmann and featured Richa Agarwal, another DM graduate now working with BRAC, USA. Richa and her team completed a DM thesis on “Design Management Opportunities in Microfinance Institutions” and based her work on a thesis begun by Kari’s group the year before.
Microfinance is a social innovation that leverages the power of relationships to generate results. It works to connect impact investors interested in creating economic value by empowering communities. It is one way to design prosperity for those unable to gain access to traditional ways of getting capital and credit.
Microfinance is powering and helping to build a broader social enterprise sector. Without access to capital and credit, creating new possibilities for businesses and communities can be a challenge. Because of the work of the featured organizations: BRAC, , Grameen America, Accion USA, Brooklyn Cooperative and Liga Masiva, even in tough economic times, new restaurants and small and mid size businesses are growing and helping to fuel a real economy that connects human need with enterprise design.
It was great to see DM alums supporting each other. In the audience:
Michele Perez – Project Manager, Scholastic Inc.
Claire Kirk – Feature Film Producer
Pauline Munga – Designer at Macy’s Merchandising Group
The panel demonstrated that microfinance utilizes and values design skills especially the designer’s expertise in ethnographic research as well as in branding, internet marketing strategies, operations management and new product development.
Clearly, “too big to fail” is a flawed design. The success of microfinance as an emerging finance tool demonstrates that equity and economic value can be created while adding value to our planet and its diverse communities.