– Blog post written by Maximilian Czymoch (Germany), alumnus of Dual Degree Master in Management + Master in Finance 2014

Some of the key values that IE Business School promotes are diversity, entrepreneurship and social responsibility. However these values are not only stated on our website but they are lived every day in the class room and the projects that IE students take part in.

As part of my final project for the Master in Finance Class of 2014, I was able to take part in the Ghana Microfinance Consulting Project. This project is a clear demonstration of IE Business Schools commitment to both entrepreneurship and social responsibility and it allowed me and the other four students to have an incredible real life learning experience. During the project my team and I created a consulting report for a Ghanaian microfinance institution, with the aim of giving an insight into the institution to outside parties and outlining the key recommendations for the institution to improve its performance in the long run and thus become more attractive for international investors.

The team: Cristian Batistella ,Prakhar Agarwal, Artem Zyryanov, Maximilian Czymoch, Vaibhav Chhabra.Equipo

The timeline for this project is substantially longer than many of the other final projects, since it requires significant amounts of preparation before the one week long field trip to Ghana. Subsequently we had to apply for the project in January and started preparing and communicating with the microfinance institution in Ghana in February, while our field trip was scheduled for the mid of May. During this time we distributed the different parts of the project amongst ourselves according to both expertise and interest and then each of us became an expert in certain aspects of the institution, while being updated by our colleagues on others. This allowed us to form a first opinion about the key topics for investigation and to create a catalogue of questions to ask while on site in Ghana.

The field trip in my view was one of most impressive experiences I have had during my life. After a good night’s sleep on the night of our arrival in Accra, the capital of Ghana, we visited one of the rural communities that our mentor had been working with for several years already. I had not been to West Africa before, so seeing Accra and visting the rural village outside, was something completely new to me. Especially the people were impressive, who directly welcomed us into their community. Furthermore the stories, that we heard about the impact of microfinance on the real lives of people, showed us the significance of the project we were working on.

For the following three days we worked with the microfinance institution on-site at their offices in Accra, where we interviewed both senior management and operational staff. Additionally we spent one day, visiting clients of the microfinance institution to see how the loans are actually dispersed and how interest and principal are collected. It also allowed us to interview clients about the impact they felt from taking on new loans and how this had affected their families. At the end of each day we sat together to discuss and write-up our findings, while preparing for the next day. By the end of the three days we felt confident that we had collected all the required information. After the field work with our client, we travelled west towards Cape Coast, where teams of the Executive Master in Finance were working with other institutions. During those two last days we spent our time travelling around to get an insight into the rich history and natural beauty of Ghana.

In retrospect, I would recommend anyone to take part in this project since I believe its a once in a lifetime opportunity to not only apply the knowledge acquired during the Master in Finance but also to experience something completely new.

— Maximilian Czymoch, Dual Degree Master in Management & Master in Finance 2014

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