Micro Investment Initiative Inc. To Assist Haiti

Andover students and members of the campus organization Micro Investment Initiative Inc. (Mi3), in collaboration with schools around the country, are working to provide loans for over 60 women on the Haitian Island of Ill-a-Vache. Micro Investment Initiative Inc. (Mi3), headed by President John Yang-Sammataro ’10, raises money to loan to people all over the world who require financial aid. “We come from the mindset that each individual in the world is capable of being a successful entrepreneur but that not everyone is given that opportunity. We try and provide this opportunity,” said Yang-Sammataro. Mi3 initially decided to organize loans in Haiti prior to the earthquake in January. However, in the aftermath of the earthquake, the need for loans is now more urgent than ever. Yang-Sammataro said, “We recognize that aid was required first, but if we hope to have a lasting, sustainable Haiti again, then our types of loans are just what they need to get back on their feet.” Mi3 was founded by Yang-Sammataro in 2009. Mi3 is based at Andover, and has chapters in Illinois, Marlyand, Beijing and all around the world. Yang-Sammataro explained, “We began as a discussion group, but after talking about these issues of poverty for so long, we decided we wanted to do something about it.” The key difference between microfinancing and charity is that charity gives donations of food and clothing while microfinancing gives loans with the intent of beginning businesses and allowing people to become financially independent. “As a child I was taught the Chinese proverb, ‘If you give a man a fish he will he eat for a day, but if you teach a man to fish he will eat for a lifetime,’” said Yang-Sammataro. “Normally you give aid that is consumable, but with the skills and the money, that is a foundation for sustainable enterprise,” continued Yang-Sammataro. In the past, Mi3 had done work in many countries including Indonesia. While in Indonesia, Mi3 worked with the organization CEO4teens, another student-run micro-financing organization. Several young Indonesian entrepreneurs were able to use their grants to enter a financially stable lifestyle. Mi3 has previously provided loans to between 70 and 80 new entrepreneurs and they now make an average of three to four times as much money as their parents did. “When I hear a success story, it is a jolt of unsolicited excitement,” said Yang-Sammataro. “We keep in contact with all the people we are loaning to. It’s neat [to have a club like Mi3] because it is a great way to impact the lives of others. We get an opportunity to see where our effort goes and that’s what means the most.” Mi3 has worked with similar organizations in order to help find potential candidates for the loans. Candidates are selected based on their skills and their business proposals. At chapters all around the world, members raise money through sale of breakfast items, concerts, and other events. At Andover, Mi3 was able to get a discount on Perfecto’s Café products and in turn, sell them to Andover students. In addition, the Andover chapter is working with Andover High School to set up a joint concert sponsored by Andover Youth Services, a group that serves the recreational needs of children. All of the proceeds go to fund other Mi3 loans. Each loan is paid back with interest and returned to the club’s funds. “Not only do we get to help other people through our efforts, but we get a window to the real world,” said Yang-Sammataro. “Not often are Andover students forced to balance check books and keep an organization like this afloat.” Marcus Smith ’12, club member, said, “We get chances do to things I never would have dreamed of doing in high school. I love this opportunity. We get to see all the impact we make on people from all over the world and we get a chance to learn some business skills. This club may have taught me more than any other club at Andover. I am proud to be associated with it.” Mi3 members are divided into committees including weekly operations, advertising sales, logistics, events, Friday Advising Sales, micro-stores, outreach, and tech. Students can choose to work in an area of their choice and have the opportunity to learn about related skills. Mi3 is officially a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization and recognized by the United States Government, a process that required filing extensive paperwork with the government.