UW, UN partner to teach distance course on microfinance

April 8, 2003

To help folks understand this important – and still controversial – branch of development policy, the University of Washington and the United Nations have joined forces to teach a distance learning course on microfinance.

The course, Microfinance Principles and Practices, started this spring quarter, drawing enrollments from as far as Europe and Africa. It relies on an UW instructor to guide a class of students through materials on two CD-ROMs and a workbook. Students communicate with their instructor and each other through e-mail. Those who complete the 12 weeks of instruction with a satisfactory grade earn three UW graduate credits.

The course was developed by the UN Capital Development Fund, and brought to the UW through a partnership with the Evans School of Public Affairs. The UW is currently the only American university teaching the course and offering credits. Howard Brady, the UW instructor teaching the course, is a CPA with nearly a decade of experience in microfinance.

“My role is to share my experiences with microfinance organizations in Central and South America, to bring real-world problems to life and add more depth to these issues,” Brady said. “This is a very good introductory course.”

Microfinance is the practice of offering small loans to poor families who would not be served by traditional banks and lenders. The loans, ranging from $50 to $3,000, help them start small enterprises that supplement their income, such as the purchase of a sewing machine to make and fix clothes, or a cow to sell the milk.

For more information about this course, contact Howard Brady at 206-546-7067, or by e-mail at hbrady@mficonsulting.com.

To register for the course, visit http://www.outreach.washington.edu/extinfo/biz/finance.asp