BYU to Host 7th Microenterprise Conference and Action Fair

Feb 10 2004

All it took was a simple challenge for Lisa and Jack Williams to get involved. After attending a BYU microcredit conference in 2000, Lisa and Jack started their own action group in Elk Grove, Calif. The group meets bi-monthly, educating themselves on microenterprise and discussing their goals and progress in collecting money for a microcredit bank.

“What especially appealed to us was the idea of loaning money to people so they had a tool to lift themselves out of poverty by their bootstraps, preserving their dignity and self-respect in the process,” says Lisa Williams.

The Williams are not alone in their desire to help those less fortunate. Hundreds of participants each year participate in the conference’s action fair. This year, the fair will be held 13 March, in conjunction with the Seventh Annual Microenterprise Conference at Brigham Young University. The conference and action fair are free to the public.

Participants of the action fair will be able to visit booths set up by local, national and international groups attending the conference. The groups will provide information about what they do and how the public can get involved in microenterprise. The action fair is from 1 – 2:30 p.m. Saturday 13 March in the Wilkinson Student Center at BYU.

“This is an opportunity to find out how to get involved,” says Todd Manwaring, managing director for the Center for Economic Self-Reliance. “Intrinsically, for many of us, there is a desire to reach out and do something for our brothers and sisters and what we often don’t know is how to do that. If you are going to miss part of the conference, do not miss the action fair.”

Conference sessions will be held 11-13 March 2004. Sponsored by the Center for Economic Self-Reliance at BYU’s Marriott School, the conference gathers microfinance institutions, non-governmental organizations, educators, students and volunteers for discussions and workshops on microenterprise innovations.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Microenterprise with Education.” Attendees new or well-acquainted with the concept of microenterprise are invited to learn ways to educate those who receive microcredit in areas such as accounting, literacy and healthcare.

“The microenterprise conferences are a great way for ordinary people to learn what is going on in this field and to renew our commitment,” adds Lisa Williams. “Even when we have a strong desire to become involved in charitable efforts, it can become a distant concern if we do not make an effort to consistently rekindle the fire.”

The conference will begin Thursday 11 March at 6 p.m. with an opening social. A complete schedule and registration can be found online at Hour-long panel discussions and breakout sessions will be held every hour from 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday 12-13 March in the Wilkinson Student Center at BYU, with an hour-and-a-half break for the Action Fair.

The Marriott School is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. The school has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, public management, information systems, organizational behavior and entrepreneurship. The school’s mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,000 students are enrolled in the Marriott School’s graduate and undergraduate programs.

Contact Joseph Ogden (801) 422-8938 or 787-9989
Writer: Lauren Funk (801) 422-1512