This course investigates the emerging field of microfinance - the provision of small loans and financial services to the poor – and its impact on addressing poverty in developing countries.  Students will develop an understanding of a range of topics in the field, including: the role of credit in microenterprises, lending models, sustainability and best practices for microfinance institutions (MFIs), cultural factors and regional issues.


The course offers a unique mix of theory and practice as students will have the opportunity to work on projects relating to current issues and microfinance programs in various regions of the world.  In particular, as a key component of the course students will work in groups to develop research consulting reports that document and analyse various aspects of microfinance programs that have been established by partner organizations in the field.  At the conclusion of the course, students may have the opportunity to participate in an international field visit to see first-hand how the work of partner NGO organizations is impacting the lives of individuals in one or more countries in Latin America.  Participation in the field travel is optional and not compulsory for completion of the course.