Bauer Business Focus

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Saleha Khumawala | November 12, 2010

Published on November 10, 2010

Microfinance has the potential to not only get residents out of debt, Khumawala says, but also to teach them financial skills that will last a lifetime.

On Bauer Business Focus – A conversation on microfinance and how UH Bauer students are using it to make a difference within their community with Ed Mayberry, business reporter for KUHF 88.7 FM.

In growing numbers, banks are partnering with non-profit organizations to offer solutions to help alleviate poverty for residents who don’t qualify for traditional financial services and are living paycheck to paycheck.

Microfinance, or providing small loans to low-income entrepreneurs that allow them to start small businesses and become self-reliant, has become a passion for many, including Saleha Khumawala, an associate professor of accountancy and taxation at the University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business.

Khumawala teaches a graduate-level course on the principles of microfinance at UH Bauer. While the class is open to students across the college, Khumawala explains that it is probably most appealing to students who “have a passion for alleviating poverty.”

The course offers students a hands-on experience to put the concepts of microfinance into practice. This semester, students are assisting with “Bank On Houston,” a project spearheaded by the Office of the City Controller in the City of Houston, which has partnered with local non-profit organizations and banks.

The project’s objective is to enable a previously underserved segment of the population to get bank accounts. Students have the opportunity to work with 20 regional banks from the community and several non-profit organizations. This partnership also allows for financial literacy and education — the component that Khumawala says is the key “to getting on the road to economic empowerment.”

“Teaching the borrowers these habits is critical so they can start learning to save, a nickel and a dime at a time,” she said.

Click here for the full interview.

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