A new UA microfinance student club is working to improve global poverty.
Club members are challenging students to think about having to live on only $1.50 worth of food a day in order to raise their awareness of poverty.
Loans Across Borders was started this year by Sheetal Singh, a senior studying finance and accounting. Singh interned at a microfinance firm in India where she said she “fell in love with the simplicity of microfinance.” Though microfinance loans are for smaller amounts of money, Singh said she still saw people aspiring to improve entire communities through the loans.
The club’s long-term goal is to enable students to travel abroad and work at microfinance firms to gain experiences similar to Singh’s. Currently, members are working to inform people of the positive impact of microfinancing.
LAB has teamed up with Milaap, a microfinancing firm based in India, to raise money and awareness for the Live Below The Line campaign. Milaap helps Indian citizens who live below the poverty line receive an education, clean water and safe lighting through loans.
Live Below The Line challenges people to only spend $1.50 a day on food, the equivalent of the United State’s extreme poverty line. In 2012, more than 15,000 people participated in the challenge. In addition to fundraising, the idea is that the money saved on food will be donated to one of Live Below The Line’s partnered organizations, which includes Unicef.
“It is a tough challenge,” said Mary McKenna, who is raising money for Milaap. “When you’re actually living at the poverty line and you can’t afford meals that are filling, it’s a struggle. There’s no room for error.”
Instead of signing up as a team to take on the challenge, LAB will be hosting a screening of a film in April about a group of people who traveled to Africa and lived on under a dollar a day for food.
Members said they felt they would get more participation from students through a movie screening, according to LAB member Adrienne Dillard, a finance junior.
“One thing of ramen costs a dollar. So you’d only get to eat one ramen for the whole day,” Dillard said. “I don’t know how many people would be willing to do that.”
LAB members said they hope to raise people’s awareness of the issue to the point that they’re inspired to get involved.
“It’s important to bring it up to the forefront of people’s minds,” said Jonathan Alden, a finance junior and LAB member. “There are people less fortunate than we are and if we don’t help them then who is?”
Though LAB focuses on the financial aspect, Singh said that people of all majors could find a way to be involved.
“There’s more to poverty than just finances,” Singh said. “They have healthcare needs and education needs, other things that factor into their lives that people don’t think about.”