Many student groups would take time to relax after winning the Lewis Quality of Excellence Award from the Broad College of Business, but not the Spartan Global Development Fund (SGDF). Instead, these students are hard at work preparing for a trip to Guatemala, where they can see their impact firsthand.

(From left) Paulette Stenzel, Sanjay Gupta and Scott Lyman.

Lyman (center) accepts the Lewis Quality Award with SGDF advisor Paulette Stenzel and Dean Sanjay Gupta.

“We want to learn about the lives, businesses, and the economic environments of the people and places we loan to, and how our loans have allowed them to pursue their dreams,” said Scott Lyman (BA Finance and Social Relations & Policy ’18), SGDF president.

Led by Michigan State University students from the Broad College of Business and James Madison College, SGDF is a registered student-run 501(c)(3) organization that facilitates interest-free microloans to entrepreneurs in the developing world. To make these loans, SGDF relies on donations from individuals, sponsors, and organizations.

It has been a milestone year for SGDF: the group facilitated $5,525 in interest-free microloans in the last academic year, a new record for the group. The greatest milestone, Lyman says, was receiving the Lewis Quality of Excellence Award from the Broad College. “Receiving this award recognizes the efforts of the entire Spartan Global team, validating our work, and giving us momentum heading into this upcoming year,” he said.

But there is no slowing down. In order to get hands-on experience with field partner, As Green as It Gets, SGDF set a goal to raise enough funds to support 10 students and two members from its Board of Directors on a trip to Guatemala.

Three women in Guatemala work together.

During their trip to Guatemala, SGDF will work alongside the artisans and businesses their loans supported in the past.

During their time in Guatemala, SGDF will work directly with the microloan recipients to see how their small businesses have grown in the past year. Together, they will take daily cultural cooking lessons, work in coffee fields, visit the office facilities, and tour the textile markets to see how their microloans have resulted in the growth of these small businesses.

Lyman explained that by going to Guatemala, SGDF will get an intimate view on the “full cycle” of microfinance, different than the side they see in East Lansing.

“At this point, I have a lot of excitement for Guatemala. Sure, there are some nerves involved, but these are simply associated with international travel. Myself and others at Spartan Global have been talking about doing this trip and have been actively planning it since April. Thus, I am incredibly excited to see it all come together,” Lyman states.

For the 2017-2018 academic year, Spartan global is aiming to facilitate $6,900 in loans, a 25 percent increase from last year.

Learn more about the trip to Guatemala and how you can support by visiting SGDF’s Crowdpower page.