Dominican Republic & Cuba Field Research Program
Summer 1, 2014: May 3 – June 2, 2014
The Field Research Program in the Dominican Republic & Cuba is a practical, hands-on, field research program built on the principles of the Grameen Bank model of micro-finance which emphasizes group liability, social collateral, and solidarity with the poor. In Module 1, the program focuses on village banking in rural communities called “bateyes” which are typically comprised of Haitian migrant sugar cane workers in the Dominican Republic. Students will also have the opportunity visit microfinance associates and their businesses in urban settings. In Module 2, students will compare and contrast their experience of microfinance PLUS models in the Dominican Republic with associates in Cuba, and explore how modern day socialism impacts the growth of small businesses and entrepreneurship.
In Module 1, classes commence Monday through Friday for two weeks at the premier business and technology campus in the Dominican Republic called INTEC (Instituto Tecnologico de Santo Domingo). Northeastern students will study side-by-side with local Dominican and Haitian students enrolled in this elective course. The academic portion of the program includes topics of study such as social entrepreneurship, micro-enterprise development, micro-finance, and impact measurement. Classes are supplemented with site visits to social businesses throughout the country, including other micro-finance organizations, agricultural co-operatives, and development organizations. Students will also be given the opportunity to visit Esperanza’s microfinance PLUS programs, such as their public health iniatitives, education programs, and home improvement loan portfolio.
In the afternoon, students work “in the field” in either urban, semi-urban, or rural communities to interview current microfinance associates of Esperanza International , the University’s field partner in the Dominican Republic. Esperanza is a leading microfinance organization in the island of Hispaniola and is an active Kiva field partner. The purpose for this field exercise is to collect both qualitative and quantatitve impact metrics for Esperanza to better understand how they are serving their clients.
In this micro-consulting research project, students design a metric tool to assist Esperanza with measuring social impact for the organization’s 18,000 active borrowers and $20m loan portfolio. Students also create a final presentation with a deliverable to include recommendations to the senior management for best practices.
In Module 2, students will travel to the island of Cuba, where they will learn about the historical roots of socialism in order to better understand the modern day implications of business, entrepreneurship, and human development. Students will also visit historical sites, meet with leading economists, visit urban farms and agricultural cooperatives, and learn from experts in Cuban politics and history. Students will also interview recipients of microfinance loans in Cuba, and contrast their knowledge of microfinance in the Dominican Republic. Students will also have the opportunity to compare and contrast public health systems and education systems in both countries to better understand human centered design in the role of development.
This program is supplemented with service learning opportunities, as well as site visits, and weekend trips/excursions.
To watch an informational video about the Dominican Republic Field Research Program, please visit: please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oA3cWPbY-ZE
You will receive 8 semester hours of academic credit for this program:
- ENTR3316: Micro-finance & Economic Development in Latin America (4SH)
- ENTR3318: Business, Economics & History of Hispaniola and Latin America (4SH)
Host Institution:INTEC and Esperanza International
- Please note this program is only open to students with a minimum 2.8 GPA. Students who do not meet this requirement but still wish to apply must contact SEI at email@example.com so additional arrangements can be made to facilitate a reference.
- All students must attend supplemental interviews in addition to the online application.
- Proficiency of Spanish language is not required but would be helpful.
- Preference is given to students who have completed prior Social Entrepreneurship coursework (see full list here) or are enrolled in the Global Social Entrepreneurship minor.
IMPORTANT Update: Due to the high volume of applicants, the lead faculty member on this program is actively seeking students who understand the mission of the Social Enterprise Institute. As such, students should understand a few key components – this program is academically rigorous (expect day and periodic evening classes in addition to field experience); this program is mission-driven all the time (expect community service at least one day of the weekend), and most importantly, this program has high expectations for mature students who understand that alcohol consumption is not the “end all” for having a good time abroad. This does not mean that the program is “dry” (meaning alcohol consumption is prohibited), but we expect that students will sign a contract for a self-enforced commitment to restricted alcohol usage.
If you have specific questions about these requirements, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
In the Dominican Republic, students will stay in a Spanish-style hotel located in Zona Colonial, the historical district of Santo Domingo. The hotel accommodations include breakfast daily, and free wi-fi access. Laundry is available for a fee.
In Cuba, students will stay in a combination of hotels, and bed & breakfast accommodations called “casa particulares” or home-stays throughout Havana and Santiago de Cuba.
In the Dominican Republic, students will be based in Santo Domingo and travel to San Pedro, La Romana, Isla Saona, and Puerto Plata. In Cuba, students will be based either in Havana or Santiago de Cuba.
Some information posted here is tentative and subject to change based on costs and dates of available flights. The website is updated as current information becomes available.