Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Update: Miss Economist in the News

Hi readers,

Just wanted to give an update as to how things have been. I was recently featured on PBS Newshour for my involvement with microfinance in high school and college. You can check it out here:

The article was also retweeted and posted on facebook by The Wharton School (


Miss Economist

Thursday, September 2, 2010

This Or That?

We may not even realize how often we make decisions every day. We weigh options and choose the best of them. Seems pretty, ordinary right? Well, in formal economics terms, you are actually considering the marginal benefits (what is the additional gain of X?) and marginal costs (what is the additional cost of X?) of that particular act. See, you think like an economist without even knowing it!

Sure, you may think that you only weigh MBs and MCs when you are shopping at a grocery store (giant marshmallows or cookies?), but actually you are doing marginal analysis in all aspects of your life.

Consider Situation A (one that my friend recently encountered): Should I take my Calculus textbook home today?

Friend: "Ugh, my book is heavy and I had cross-country practice today. I'm too sore to lug this book home. But, if I don't, I'll have to carry it home tomorrow with my Physics textbook too." (insert friend's annoyed face here)

In economics speak, her marginal cost was the extra physical strength and work she needed to carry the book today and her marginal benefit was a fewer number of books to carry home the next day. If her MC > MB, would she have taken her book? No. If her MB > MC, would she have taken her book? Yes. Ah, but what if she decided that her MC = MB? She could have chosen an alternative.

Did you ever think that economics could apply to life and not just to numbers? Well, in fact, it can! That's how economics came to be a social science: combining numbers, terminology, and qualitative analysis with psychology, anthropology, and sociology. This blending of the two disciples perhaps is one of the elements of economics that traces back to its very core and makes it applicable to the majority of our world's population in a relatively systematic way.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Milestone

Hi everyone! I have recently made my 100th loan on Kiva! I helped the Sartawi Group in Bolivia achieve its dream of financial self-sufficiency. The group will buy merchandise to expand their businesses and could benefit from Pro Mujer's other programs such as business training. Here is my portfolio distribution available on my Lender Page.

Question: How do you suggest I celebrate?

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Yunus Series: Banker to the Poor

Banker to the Poor -- this is the book that educated millions about microfinance and the Grameen Bank. Written by Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the book describes Yunus' journey to creating the Grameen Bank and how the Bank has developed since its founding. 

Early Life
Born in present-day Bangladesh, Dr. Yunus was surrounded by a large Muslim family and grew up in a time of political strife as India and Pakistan gained independence from Britain. His education led to him to a Fulbright Scholarship to study in the USA. Living in the USA for a few years after getting his Ph.D in economics, he supported the Bangladeshi War of Liberation. Upon returning to Bangladesh, Dr. Yunus witnessed a great famine in 1974 and created a program to help relieve the famine's devastating effects in the university where he taught economics. By promoting a sustainable farming project, he saw the potential of farmers to become prosperous, but saw a greater need to help the poorest of the poor break out of the cycle of poverty.

The Beginnings of Grameen
Dr. Yunus' initial projects were completely at the grassroots level as he visited villagers in Jobra, Bangladesh, observed their lifestyle, talked to them, and thought about how to best help them. He noticed how difficult reaching out to women was as women are supposed to be shielded from the outside world as per Muslim custom. Tempted to give them money, Dr. Yunus knew that handing them money would certainly not help their situation in the long run. On an impulse, he loaned a bit of money to a local villager in the hopes of receiving of his money back when she would use it to improve her business. This experience is what motivated him to develop the concept of microlending. Dr. Yunus consulted banks and lawyers, trying to get someone to buy into an idea of a bank for the poor (hence the title of the book!) but his obstacles never seized to block his vision. Nobody believed that the poor had the potential to learn, grow a business, or even manage expenses. According to the naysayers, such skills were far beyond the abilities of the villagers Dr. Yunus spoke to. Working to develop a program with the government led to compromises on Yunus' side and on the government's side. The bank was finally formed as a branch of the state bank but operated on its own terms for the most part. His team consisted mostly of students and when the bank began to prosper, it expanded to other villages and tried out various projects. After several years of struggling, the bank was finally fully formed and functional. 

Grameen's Principles 
From the start, Dr. Yunus knew that women needed to be empowered not only in his community, but also in the global community. Grameen makes its women entrepreneurs more confident about managing money so they won't just give the money to their husbands out of fear. Grameen also ensures that entrepreneurs are well-supported by their community when taking a loan by holding meetings in the villages where entrepreneurs can talk about their loans and businesses. When entrepreneurs face natural disasters or other unpredictable events, the bank doesn't take the money away, it simply makes the loan easier to pay off, fitting the entrepreneur's needs. As entrepreneurs become more prosperous, they can also acquire shares of the bank, making them active participants in their nation's economy. 

The Bank Expands
The question of sustainability is always associated with microfinance. How do we know that once an entrepreneur pays back her loan, she doesn't end up back in poverty? How do we know that she leads a better life? To resolve this question, the Grameen Bank developed several programs to ensure that people benefit in the long run. Grameen Shikkha provides student loans so the children of entrepreneurs can get a good education. Other programs provide housing loans, telephones, cellphones, electricity, and healthcare clinics that ensure that entrepreneurs lead prosperous lives. Since the Grameen Bank was formed, its microfinance model has been used all around the world. As of June 2010, the bank has more than 2,000 branches and has helped millions of people achieve financial self-sufficiency. In 2006, Dr. Yunus and the Grameen Bank were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for helping to alleviate poverty through microfinance. 

Trust me, this book will make you want to make a difference. Since this brief summary is in no way exhaustive (but hopefully enticed you to read the book), I really do encourage you to read Banker to the Poor! If you are interested in buying the book, I ask that you buy it through iShop4Microfinance -- 4% of your purchase goes to microfinance organizations such as Acumen Fund, Grameen Bank, and Kiva! 

Comment below to let me know what you thought of the book! 

Works Cited
Yunus, Muhammad. Banker to the Poor. New York: Public Affairs, 2007. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Intern

My internship has been amazing so far! I constantly meet new people and the office is wonderfully friendly! I love being part of a community that is dedicated to microfinance and making an impact in the world. The atmosphere is inspiring and motivates me to do so much more than I ever thought I could. If you ever have the opportunity of viewing the inside of a company or organization you are interested in, I encourage you to soak everything in! Your perspective on the work the organization does and on your life is sure to change!

More updates to come from this Kiva Intern!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Summer Reading List

Summer Reading. While some may groan upon hearing those two words, I am excited to dive into the set of books (which are different from my academic summer books) I have set aside to read over the summer. I have added a few others which might interest anyone, especially after the amazing responses to my Women At Work post. These are all great books and I suggest you read which ever ones intrigue you!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Jobs, Careers, Professional Aspirations...

or whatever you want to call them. Labor is one of the things that keeps our economy alive. While the unemployment rate recently dropped to less than 10%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for teenagers is still around 25%. That number will rise with the influx of high school and college grads entering the work force unless more long term jobs are created soon. At the moment, your best shot at a career would to be focus on the STEM professions -- or a job based on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Universities and high schools are aiming to emphasize such STEM classes as the demand for technology-based experts seems to only increase. Schools are therefore not only emphasizing STEM classes to their students but also desiring teachers with degrees in the STEM professions. Before the recession, more STEM majors were employed than those with a non-STEM degree, so try to imagine how many would be needed now! For more info about STEM careers, click here. For the case study on STEM careers done by the government before the recession, visit here

Are you a high-schooler looking for a job or just considering future career options? Check out:

Question: Are you a high schooler or college student considering a STEM career? How has this post influenced your decision?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Miss Economist on Kiva Blog!

Hey everyone!

Kiva recently wrote a blog post about me! You can visit it here:

Thanks to the Kiva staff for their support!

:) Miss Economist

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Miss Economist on TV

One day our grandchildren will go to museums to see what poverty was like.
Dr. Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize Winner

To help achieve Dr. Yunus' dream, I have been actively spreading micro-lending's message and  was recently interviewed for Desi USA TV on Comcast a few weeks ago! Here's the interview:

- Miss Economist