By Bram de Roos
The Mediterranean Coast of Beirut, Lebanon. Photo: Bram de Roos
After studying Arabic for the last academic year and getting a taste of financial management through a course at the Business School, I decided in the spring that it would be good to get some experience in finance in an Arab country. With a background in political science, Japanese studies and anthropology, I figured it would be hard to start managing a Gulf-based investment fund right away. Instead, I decided to look for an opportunity in microfinance.
My interest in international development and base-of-pyramid business models made me curious about this much-praised approach to help ‘the poor’. Especially after setting up a team of Students in Free Enterprise at GW, I was curious to see how other organizations stimulate entrepreneurship. All the while, it would give me an opportunity to test my newly acquired finance and language skills in a new environment.
So I went online, looked for microfinance organizations anywhere in the Arab world (strategically omitting Afghanistan) and send them e-mails offering my services as an intern. Of the scores of messages sent, just a few resulted in a reply. But eventually, I only needed one, so when Al Majmoua in Lebanon asked me to do an Activity-Based cost analysis to look for ways to improve their profitability, my plans for the summer were sealed. Read the rest of this entry ?