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What Are the Different Types of Microfinance Internships?

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  • Written By: Geri Terzo
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2016
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True microfinance is a benevolent type of financing that is extended by profit and nonprofit organizations to poverty-stricken individuals and regions in hopes to create better living standards. The reputation of microfinance experienced damaging periods where a segment of financial institutions were said to take advantage of vulnerable people and places, but the origins of this industry are selfless. Financial professionals active in this field may have had histories in investment banking or money management. Students who are interested in microfinance internships can support the industry through research, communications, or the development of financial products.

Internships in microfinance can lead to global career opportunities for students. The financing provided by microfinance institutions (MFIs) goes toward some of the most rural and poorest nations in the world. Students with aptitudes for finance and passion to reduce poverty around the world make excellent candidates for microfinance internships.

Research is an integral component of microfinance efforts, and subsequently, many of the internships in this sector are research associates of some kind. A student may be responsible for communicating updates about the effects of offering financing to impoverished nations by writing updates and press releases. Interns may be tasked with contributing to teams developing ways to improve the efficiency of the loan process. For instance, students fulfilling microfinance internships might research ways to improve a borrower's ability to repay loans or study the public perception of microfinance loans.

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It is possible that, in pursuing microfinance internships, students will not travel to poverty-stricken areas. Major MFIs have headquarters in major cities in leading economies. As a result, student interns may be involved in fundraising efforts in the U.S. or in the U.K. and never leave the country. These microfinance internships are largely about finance, and it is useful for students to have backgrounds in economics.

There are also microfinance internships available where travel is inherent in the positions. Students who are interested in traveling to regions where microfinance is prevalent, including Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America, may be able to fulfill roles in supporting candidates for financing or serving as liaisons between borrowers and lenders.

Profits in microfinance are not typically comparable to those in traditional banking circles. The very nature of microfinance is to lend poor people small amounts of money that will go a long way at in an attempt to eradicate poverty. Students should expect that many microfinance internships are unpaid, but there may be exceptions. It is possible that a university will sponsor a student's microfinance internship and pay for travel, but in any event, students should be aware that an unpaid internship is the industry standard before agreeing to any program.

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