Microfinance Volunteer Resigns After Finding
By Chris Perras
An International Development major and vice-president of the Future Business Leaders of America at the University of California at Berkeley, Michael Cheshire Kent III sought more out of life than a high-paying job and all the luxuries that accompany it; he wanted to use his education to give back to the community that gave so much to him. But the suburbs of Northern California aren’t quite as exotic as the highlands of Guatemala, so he ended up here.
As the self-appointed Director of Microfinance and International Development for the microfinance nonprofit Soluciones de Banco de America Norte de Desarollo y Aid, or BAND AID Solutions, Michael worked for six life-changing weeks with indigenous cooperatives in the Guatemalan highlands, offering them small, interest free loans to help jump-start fledgling collectives or provide an infusion of much-needed capital to existing ones. Unfortunately, Michael was recently forced to resign after discovering that the monthly installations of capital from his parents were unsustainable.
“We strongly felt that we were not getting a sufficient rate of return on our initial investment,” remarked Kent’s parents and investors. “Namely, none.” Most financial analysts are in agreement that Michael’s time in Guatemala had a decidedly adverse effect on the Michael Cheshire Kent III futures market, in which the Kents are known to have considerable financial and emotional holdings. While all the loans are currently in arrears, the Kents are confident that, if not recouped, the value of their collateral of two goats and a one-legged chicken will only increase as the lucrative second quarter rolls on.
With Michael out of the picture, the future looks bleak for BAND AID. “My extensive six weeks in the field coupled with my strong background in international economic development and cash-flow modeling that I learned during the first semester of my sophomore year at Berkeley made me an integral part of this project,” noted Kent. The director of BAND AID agreed that without Michael, the project wouldn’t have had a chance. “Without the money from his trust fund, we would never have been able to give out loans at all.” She went on to note that the purchase of indigenous goods by his extended family sure didn’t hurt either.
Michael came to Guatemala with all the answers, but he’ll leave us with a final question to ponder. “Without donations from enlightened, socially-minded people like myself, how can rural, indigenous communities ever become self-sufficient?”