NYU Stern School of Business

Undergraduate College


Spring 2011

Instructor Details

Carlson, James




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Course Meetings

MW, 9:30am to 10:45am

KMC 3-90

Final Exam:

Schedule exceptions
    Class will not meet on:
    Class will meet on:


Course Description and Learning Goals


Microfinance has been hailed as one of the most effective tools for combating poverty through loans, grants, insurance and other financial products offered to the poorest of the global poor around the world.  As an international development strategy, it represents a major shift from  governmental “top-down” to a private “bottom-up” approaches and has revolutionized the approach to poverty alleviation and economic development.  It also continues to be a model of social entrepreneurship, bringing creative business and financial strategies and tools to complex social and economic problems, as well as a wedge for empowerment of women and other disadvantaged citizens in some societies.  To expand finance and sustain microfinance, however, microfinance institutions are becoming sophisticated financial institutions that structure, distribute and then finance a growing array of financial products and services to the global poor, which require increasingly sophisticated financing strategies as the global capital markets and leading financial institutions become the funding sources for microfinance institutions.  At the same time, microfinance institutions are confronting fundamental changes in their operating environment  and therefore their basic financial and business models.  Certain microfinance institutions now confront shifting missions from non-profit idealistic non-governmental organizations to profit-seeking, growth and distribution focused financial firms; increasing regulation of the microfinance institutions as banks, insurers or regulated financial entities; financial asset and product risk as the amount and complexity of the financial products grows; and the rapidly expanding opportunities and disintermediation challenges of  internet/mobile telephony finance as an extension or replacement of microfinance institutions in accessing and serving the global poor.


Course Outline

I. Microfinance Overview

II. MFI Models & Loan Products

III. MFI Financial Products & Other Products

IV. MFI Commercialization, Transformation, Regulation, and Corporate Governance Issues

V. Funding and Financing MFIs

VI. Microfinance Investment Vehicles

VII. Measuring Social Impact & Social Impact Investing


Assessment Components

Class Style and Grading:

Case and practical product and structural approach with materials, inquiries or responses prepared by individuals or groups of students every three or four weeks.  These will be 1-2 questions, providing for one-page single spaced answers.  Weekly readings will be supplemented by occasional guest speakers with international and US-based experience.  Grading based on these materials, inquiries and responses (⅓), class participation (⅓), and a final paper (⅓).



At NYU Stern we seek to teach challenging courses that allow students to demonstrate their mastery of the subject matter.  In general, students in undergraduate core courses can expect a grading distribution where: 

Note that while the School uses these ranges  as a guide, the actual distribution for this course and your own grade will depend upon how well  you actually perform in this course.


Stern Policies

General Behavior
The School expects that students will conduct themselves with respect and professionalism toward faculty, students, and others present in class and will follow the rules laid down by the instructor for classroom behavior.  Students who fail to do so may be asked to leave the classroom. 


Collaboration on Graded Assignments
Students may not work together on graded assignment unless the instructor gives express permission. 


Course Evaluations
Course evaluations are important to us and to students who come after you.  Please complete them thoughtfully.


Academic Integrity

Integrity is critical to the learning process and to all that we do here at NYU Stern. As members of our community, all students agree to abide by the NYU Stern Student Code of Conduct, which includes a commitment to:

The entire Stern Student Code of Conduct applies to all students enrolled in Stern courses and can be found here:

Undergraduate College: http://www.stern.nyu.edu/uc/codeofconduct
Graduate Programs: http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/studentactivities/involved.cfm?doc_id=102505

To help ensure the integrity of our learning community, prose assignments you submit to Blackboard will be submitted to Turnitin.  Turnitin will compare your submission to a database of prior submissions to Turnitin, current and archived Web pages, periodicals, journals, and publications.  Additionally, your document will become part of the Turnitin database.


Recording of Classes

Your class may be recorded for educational purposes


Students with Disabilities

If you have a qualified disability and will require academic accommodation of any kind during this course, you must notify me at the beginning of the course and provide a letter from the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD, 998-4980, www.nyu.edu/csd) verifying your registration and outlining the accommodations they recommend.  If you will need to take an exam at the CSD, you must submit a completed Exam Accommodations Form to them at least one week prior to the scheduled exam time to be guaranteed accommodation.


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