Showing real people, sharing real stories and making a real impact is the main goal of the Microfinance Club’s documentary, “Banking on Trust” and it has far exceeded all of the club’s expectations.
Overall, the Microfinance Club seeks to give small loans to the poor so they can start their own small businesses.
As a fairly new organization at Pepperdine, the Microfinance Club has shared a great amount of success since becoming an official club in 2010. In its two years of operation, the Microfinance Club has been able to raise $16,000 that has gone to about 40 developing countries around the world in addition to producing a widely successful documentary. According to the Microfinance Club, “the global payback rate for microfinance loans is greater than 90 percent.”
The members of the Pepperdine Microfinance Club include the president, Niki McManis, members Michelle DuBois, Francis Lubuulwa and Trent Ashby and faculty advisor Professor Scott Miller.
The club’s documentary, “Banking on Trust,” directed by alumni LeeAndrea Morton and Stan Parker (who also contributed as an editor), has done a lot more than just bring success to the club. It has raised awareness about the benefits of microfinance and has given the club the opportunity to expand their horizons and define their goals. Other alumni involved in the process include Stan Parker, Rebecca Faulkner, and Rachel Williams.
“Banking on Trust” was so effective in clearly defining the goals of the Pepperdine Microfinance Club that it was recently submitted to 20 film festivals, and will be shown at the New York City Independent Film Festival on Oct. 20.
However, the Microfinance Club also hopes to use the documentary to raise awareness about the benefits of microfinance within the Pepperdine community.
“[I] hope to show the documentary in full to all the people in the Pepperdine community who want to see the whole thing,” said Niki McManis, president of the Microfinance Club.
The success of the documentary on a national and international level has inspired the Microfinance Club to reach out into greater Los Angeles while still maintaining their original purpose of lending to impoverished areas around the world.
“The program in LA is called the Entrepreneurship Program with the Al Wooten Jr. Heritage Center. We are providing consultancy for 2 entrepreneurs in Los Angeles who were previously part of the Wooten Center’s after school youth program. Our aim is to develop the microfinance concept in the U.S. by providing consultancy to get individual’s businesses off the ground,” Sarah Agha said.
Secretary of the Microfinance Club, Michelle DuBois, also reflected this notion.
“The idea of microfinance is to create a sustainable solution to fighting poverty by helping people help themselves, and we want to have more Pepperdine students be aware of this and keep the club going so we can continue to make an impact,” Dubois said.
Not only has the documentary helped promote the club, but it has also heightened the level of awareness that people have about what microfinance is and the difference it can make in other people’s lives.
“The documentary helps because it gives a face to what we are doing and an opportunity to see who we are helping,” McManis said.
The documentary, which features a section about Adulam, Buenos Aires, has also made an impact on the Pepperdine community’s awareness about microfinance.
For the people who went to Pepperdine’s program in Buenos Aires, this documentary is especially meaningful because they went to Adulam to help in the community and met the people who were featured in the documentary.
The documentary has also given the Microfinance Club the opportunity to let many other people see how much of an impact microfinance can have on impoverished people trying to improve their lives through work.
Part of the documentary’s success comes from raising awareness about what the Microfinance Club does and the impact of microfinance as a whole by reflecting the club’s main goals throughout the film.
These goals include showing how the loans not only affect individuals but whole communities as well.
“We raise the money and give it to the people who need and deserve it most … This documentary shows the social impact of the loans because you not only see the people who receive the loans but also how it has impacted their families and communities,” McManis said.
To learn more about this documentary and microfinance, visit bankingontrust.com.