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Simulcast lectures broaden microfinance horizon

Students from 60 schools sat through the same microfinance lecture Monday night.

Using Skype as a medium, a lecture at the University of California at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business was broadcast to UNC students along with students at other schools.

The streamed lecture was part of an ongoing series that allows students to have access to the most prominent minds in microfinance.

Carolina Microfinance Initiative, along with Kenan-Flagler Business School, co-hosted a lecture by Chris Dunford, president of Freedom from Hunger, as part of the Berkeley Microfinance Simulcast series.

“It is a very innovative idea of education,” said Nayab Khan, workshops coordinator for Carolina Microfinance Initiative.

“Collectively, a few thousand of us across the country are here,” said Sean Foote, a professor in UC-Berkeley’s business school.

Speakers who are taking part in this program include: Premal Shah, president of, Jonathan Lewis, founder and CEO of Opportunity Collaboration and Monica Brand, principal director of Frontier Investments.

Khan said about 25 UNC students usually attend the lectures, with graduate and undergraduate students equally represented.

“I developed a great and more thorough understanding of the different forms of microcredit,” said Natalie Gill, a public health and business graduate student. “The selections of speakers have been phenomenal.”

Microfinance is a form of banking that loans small amounts of money to people in developing nations.

“A lot of people are benefiting from microfinance, even if not a lot are rising up out of poverty,” Dunford said.

“We are talking about very small loans, about $50,” Khan said. “But it is a very good way to get them onto the economic ladder.”

“We have had a 100 percent loan repayment, which is extraordinary,” she said.

In the past, the initiative has organized live lectures concentrating on microfinance which are given by University professors, students and community businessmen as opposed to the simulcasts.

“(The simulcast) is fine, but I really love the live workshops because I find them more engaging,” Khan said. “Next semester we are going back to live lectures.”

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