Seeking Peace from Somalia to Dharamshala

Meeting for the first time in Dharamshala, India over the course of seven days in October, I had the opportunity to meet Goldin Institute team member Jimmie Briggs with whom I shared the unique opportunity to not only be in intimate dialogue with Tibetan spiritual leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate the Dalai Lama, but be in community with nearly two dozen global youth peacemakers from around the world. The program which brought them together was the United States Institute of Peace’s (USIP) “Generation Change” initiative.

I was selected to participate as a grassroots youth leader based on my organizing work in Puntland, Somalia; while Jimmie attended as a mentor based on his past with the organization on the issue of child soldiers and SGBV (sexual and gender-based violence) against women and girls. In total, I was joined by 26 youth leaders from 14 countries spanning the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and South America.

Gather Fellow Abdiweli Waberi Meets with the Dalai Lama

Through a competitive call for online application to a youth exchange program for young peacebuilders from around conflict zones of the world, I was able to secure a position. I had high expectations for my trip to Dharamshala!  I was very excited to meet with inspiring and courageous youth leaders from across the world to learn from them and see and hear their experiences in bringing peace and change within their communities.

Goldin Institute’s Jimmie Briggs was one of half a dozen mentors present throughout the trip, including accompanying the youth leader cohort to meet with the Dalai Lama, as well as participate in group exercises and workshops. As Jimmie told me:

[quote]In fact, I met His Holiness a number of years ago at a peace conference in Derry, Northern Ireland, but this was my first opportunity to actually sit and have a true conversation. It was definitely a memorable visit. -- Jimmie Briggs, Goldin Institute Director of Community Learning [/quote]


My trip to Dharamsala was another step taking me forward toward a bright future in my career and life. I hoped to meet with thought leaders who were source of wisdom and experts in building sustainable peace for communities and I did. To listen to their powerful, personal and professional experiences -- as well as the choices they have made -- met, exceeded and surpassed my expectations.

[quote]The Dalai Lama said to me that ‘Humans are social animals and everyone needs a community survive.’ This statement taught me the importance of building strong connections between active citizens of my community to unite their efforts and avoid conflict of interest between them. [/quote]

I was able to participate in this unique opportunity as the Chairperson of the Somali branch of the African Youth and Child Network for Human Rights (REJADH), but also as a participant in the inaugural class of GATHER Fellows. It was a whirlwind trip, as I graduated as a GATHER Fellow exactly two weeks after returning home from India. Without question, my experience with the Dalai Lama and fellow youth peacemakers in USIP’s Generation Change improves the project I developed through GATHER and deepens my commitment to work for peace.

This reaffirmed my strong believe towards the old saying “Your network is your net-worth.”

You can learn more about the project I am working on and get involved by visiting my Indiegogo campaign!


Microfinance and Global Development

Researcher calls Microfinance "a delusion" undermining those it would claim to serve

Two closely related pieces that caught our attention recently: This short article by a London School of Economics professor, offering a very critical view of why and how microfinance gained favor amongst the banking industry, why it hasn't worked as promised and how 'direct cash transfers, with no strings attached, appear to be the single most impactful anti-poverty intervention available.'

Also, in this piece, two co-authors break down the microfinance market 'servicing' Cambodia and outline how that overheated market has led to recipients juggling as many as six separate loans at a time. 

Both articles reflect our own work and experiences in this sector and reinforce the need to ensure that those caught-up in the cycle of 'bottom-of the-pyramid' strategies (as its been called) are contributing in a meaningful way to the dialogue about how microfinance loaning impacts their lives. For more, please see our issue page here.



Studies Show Microcredit Shortcomings

Six New Studies Point to the Inflated-Promise of Microcredit in Transforming the Lives of the Poor

We just became aware of this report, which compiles comprehensive research critical of the standard microcredit model.  

Economist Esther Duflo of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a co-founder and co-director of J-PAL, co-author of the India and Morocco studies, and founding editor of the American Economic Journal:


[quote]These loans do help, but the changes are not transformative, certainly not transformative enough to justify charitable donations to the standard microcredit model. We have seen, though, that these are viable profit-making products, and so investors interested in a double-bottom line should take note."[/quote]

- Applied Economics


The Goldin Institute conducting research in Bangladesh.<br>Photo Credit: Goldin Institute

Duflo suggests researchers and non-profits focus their attention on other approaches for financial inclusion for the poor.

Our own research in Bangladesh, which brought  the voices of loan recipients to the table to address the ways in which microcredit often had net negative impact to their communities, mirrors many of the same findings coming to light in the J-PAL and IPA studies.