Why are Engineers Interested in Microfinance?

> Posted by Elisabeth Rhyne
Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak at an event I never expected to connect with – the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.  This professional group, representing over 100,000 engineers of all kinds, is looking at how their profession can make a difference for people at the base of the pyramid around the world. They were surprisingly eager to learn from and maybe even connect with microfinance. The lessons I shared from Energy Links seemed to resonate with many people in the group. Great physical design is what engineers pride themselves on, but great design only has impact if it is embedded in deep market understanding, a sustainable business model, and a scalable supply chain – all of which suggest the possibly obvious point that cross-discipline cooperation is needed to solve problems. 
Newly minted engineers are especially eager to make a difference, and they represent tremendous talent resources for development projects.  In addition to renewable energy, I talked with people working on access for people with disabilities, on water, and on low-cost health care.  The excitement of these folks was contagious.  You can follow them on Twitter. The event is the Engineering for the Developing World Summit, and you can follow Twitter tweets through the topic #EDWS.