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University of Iowa News Release


Jan. 24, 2007

Local Student Observes Microfinance During India Trip

(NAME OF STUDENT) of (HOMETOWN) was one of 17 University of Iowa students who participated in a class during winter break that traveled to India for an up-close look at economic development through microfinance.

The students traveled to the Indian state of Tamil Nadu from Dec. 29 to Jan. 12 for the class "Microfinance for Women-Run Enterprises." There, they studied hundreds of microloan recipients, most of them women, who started their own businesses and significantly improved their families' standards of living.

The students met with hundreds of women who had started small businesses in the cities of Chennai and Madurai, and attended a two-day leadership summit in Dindigul. The students also attended an Indian music academy, an ancient temple site, and the Meenakshi Temple, one of the most famous Hindu temples.

Microfinancing provides small loans to impoverished people, mostly women, to start or improve existing businesses. The intent of the loans-mostly around $100-- is to help the women lift themselves and their families out of poverty and give them a better life. Most loan programs operate in South Asia, Africa and South America. Microcredit received wide international attention last year when Muhammad Yunus, who developed the concept and founded the micro-lender Grameen Bank, was named the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

On this trip, the students met with mainly urban women who primarily worked in retail, running stores that sell general provisions, purified water, or flower garlands that are worn into Hindu temples as part of worship. Some businesses make woven baskets and detergent, while others offered such services as clothes pressing or bicycle repair. One woman they met operated her own digital photo studio, a husband and wife team owned a label-making business, and several women formed a joint venture that operated a printing press.

NOTE TO EDITORS: This release is being forwarded to you because a student or students participating in the class are from hometowns in your publication's coverage area. The information below includes each student's name, hometown, internship title and the employer he or she is working for. Iowa students are listed first.


Algona: Dominic Boomgarden

Cedar Rapids:Shana Drahn

Coralville: Avery Bang

Des Moines: Ira Delilovic

Durant: Katie Tisinger

Dyersville: Luke Juran

Iowa City: Rosemary Pontarelli, Rachel Allen-Holbrook

Lake City: Peter Haden

Logan: Ingrid Frisk

Monmouth: Kate Merchie

Sioux City: Sharon Benzoni


Chicago: Angela Stover

Glenview: Mary Sents

Naperville: David Klein

Palatine: Janice Giraldo

Peotone: Jenna Kusmierek

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,