Friday, December 11, 2009

Microcredit & Mircoloans: The Girl Effect

I saw this and I IMMEDIATELY had to share it.  

Click on this link:

The Girl Effect.         (hint: to go straight to the video, click on "Agree")

This is all about microloans and women's rights!  Two of my favorite things!  No offense to men, but statistics show that when men in developing countries are given microloans, there is only approximately a 30% chance that they will actually pay back the loan.  On the other hand, women pay back their loans and make profits at rates upwards of 90% of the time- and quicker than their male counterparts!  Why?  Well, women often are more motivated to work hard on their small (micro) businesses ventures for several reasons.

1. To provide for their families- in many underdeveloped countries, the women scrimp together what little they have to try to feed their children while the men are busy using the money that should be going to their families for alcohol and other slovenly purposes (see Russia for an example) and the maternal instincts of women push them to work harder for food for their children then their husbands in the same situation.

2. This is their chance to prove themselves.  Obviously, the status quo in most underdeveloped nations is that men work and women take care of home duties.  But in many instances, this is clearly not working, as evidenced by ever-increasing poverty and hunger.  So, women are propelled forward by the glimmer of hope that they can get out of this societal rut by their own means and exercise their autonomy by means that their culture may not have allowed them to engage in before: business!  They have been sitting on the sidelines all too long and are now revved to make a difference in their families and communities.

3.  Sad as it is, women are just less likely to spend their loans on risky investments, gambling, prostitutes, etc.  The money they receive actually goes where it is intended, making a return much more feasible.

I love this!  We think that HUGE bailouts and trillions of government dollars in handouts will end poverty, but I think that the key really lies in good old fashioned hard work with a little financial boost coupled with accountability, business basics, and education.  I was privileged to get to listen to a presentation by the founder of The Academy for Creating Enterprise (a Philippines-based nonprofit for former LDS missionaries that are from the Philippines, designed to teach them to use the skills of work and communication that they used on their missions in the field of small business- super cool) make a presentation in a class for my Nonprofit Management minor and it was awesome!  The microloan revolution is changing lives, and it will inevitably change nations.  

For information on a nonprofit gaining great prominence in this field, see Heifer International, and I would encourage a donation, considering this season of giving.  Also, for even more information, see the book "A Word Without Poverty" by Mohammed Yunus- the real pilot of this field (who actually earned his Nobel Peace Prize thorough research, creative innovation, and hard work that has benefitted mankind).  Cheers!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Superfluous Cakes

   On a rare personal note, I am in the heat of my first round of law school finals.  And although it would be much more typical of me to discuss the juxtaposition of President Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in the same month that he announced sending thousands of more troops to the Middle East (his speech announcing that was actually very moving and I was watching it in the gym, practically crying on the treadmill- always a safety hazard).  But, no.  The topic at hand is cakes.  After my mini trip to New York and the discovery of the Crumbs Bake Shop, coupled with an engaged girl at school talking incessantly about how her wedding cake is having a different flavor of cake on every layer, cakes have been on the mind.  It is my little unproductive way of forgetting about final exams for a moment.  So if you came here today to read some interesting philosophical treatise on human rights, keep looking; I apologize.  But if you are the mood for some mind mush, then do read on.

   After a delightful Google Images search, I came up with some real gems:

   For those Mario Bros. lovers out there, I though this Mario-themed cake was super clever!  You've got little Toadies, Question-Mark boxes, Princess Peach and her castle, and of course, Mario himself.  Very creative and a bit whimsical.

   As for this next one, every boy that I have shown this to has had virtually the same reaction, "Whoa!  That's amazing!"  Yes, here it is, every little boy's dream- the Hostess Cake:

Complete with all of our schoolyard favorites.  You could trade this cake for like a million tater tots at your local Elementary School.  Oddly, it actually has a pleasing amount of visual interest, and is not nearly as tacky as I would have expected.

And just when you thought that was crazy, get this- the Sushi Wedding Cake (complete with rubber duckies?!?...I have no idea...)

 I'm just hoping that there's not actually a cake underneath all of that raw fish.  And I love the strewn leaves and edamame, ya know, just for some more color...or something.

And finally, a cake that I actually seriously like.  I think its both pretty and sweet.  Not to mention the thought of eating all that fondant makes me start to drool, mmmmmm...

Cute little nest on top, huh? :)

Well, friends, I'm afraid that will have to do for now.  Back to the grind stone.  May your day be full of sweetness and creativity.

PS, for some real fun, try the Google search of "20 Ugliest Wedding Cakes" and see what you can find!