BancoEstado Microempresas (BEME)

Research/Program Intern

Location: Santiago, Chile
Duration: Early June through mid-August
Qualifications: advanced coursework in economics, statistics (preferably a working knowledge of STATA or similar software, or the commitment to learn before coming to Chile), functional fluency in spoken and written Spanish (evaluated by a member of the Spanish faculty at MHC), ability to work independently and with limited supervision.

BancoEstado Microempresas (BEME) has a portfolio of over 400,000 microfinance borrowers and has issued over 894 million dollars in loans, making it the largest microcredit lender in Chile, and one of the largest in the world. BEME began in 1996 when it separated from BancEstado S.A., developing its own methods and technology crafted especially for the needs of microfinance clients. BEME has 195 bank branches located throughout Chile. The corporate headquarters, where the intern will b placed, are located in Santiago Centro.

BEME’s studies division actively looks for ways to continue to improve its microfinance lending strategy to improve the lives of its borrowers. In addition, BEME values and is very open to having the assistance of outsiders; currently Harvard/MIT and Yale/UCLA are running financial development projects at the bank.

The intern will have the opportunity to work on a project with the studies division that is currently underway at the bank, or to work with the bank to devise her own project. One tentative project, would be to compare and contrast BEME’s communal loaning program (inspired by Yunus’ model of lending) with similar programs in Asian countries. Currently, the communal loan program at BEME is in the pilot phase and has 100 clients, but the bank sees it as a way of being able to further expand credit to high risk clients with low or no collateral, and therefore wishes to increase the size of the program. Nevertheless, in the pilot phase, high rates of client dissatisfaction have been reported and the bank is looking to understand why this may be, bearing in mind that communal banking has been widely popular in Asia.

Under the supervision of a mentor at BEME, the intern’s duties will include:

  • conducting baseline research on communal banking/microlending
  • conducting interviews with clients and loan officers
  • assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the current communal loaning model
  • writing a proposal on how to improve communal lending
  • presenting her findings to BEME´s and BancoEstado´s board of directors and advising them how to improve their current system.

Note: Work hours in Chile are from 10:00 – 18:00.

The BEME-MHC internship is a great opportunity for a student who is interested in microfinance, and in particular for someone who is interested in pursuing a career in social enterprise at the intersection of business and public policy. Although BancoEstado is a microfinance bank which looks to improve the lives of its clients, it is also a for-profit institution. Therefore, potential projects the student will work on will be both potentially profitable for the bank and beneficial for the clients.

This opportunity has been developed by an alumna.

To apply, read the application guidelines and submit the Universal Application Form by February 22, 2013 at 5 pm. All applicants MUST meet with Kirk Lange, Director of International Experiential Learning, by February 15, 2013 for a pre-application meeting. Please call the McCulloch Center at x2072 to schedule an appointment.