Spes Nova at the Ignatian Family Teach-in for Justice

By Victor Sapkota (IPED 2021) and Ngan Tran (IPED 2020)

As leaders of Spes Nova’s steering committee, we were sent to Washington D.C. to attend the end of the year Ignatian Family Teach-in for Justice 2019. We were assisted by Dr. Erick Rengifo, Spes Nova’s co-founder and IPED professor, as well as the student leaders of the Spes Nova chapter based at Fordham University: Alison Stauffer (Gabelli 2021) and Jessica Sudol (Gabelli 2022).

Spes Nova is a non-profit organization that aims to alleviate poverty in developing countries by helping local entrepreneurs fund, expand, and insure their market. It seeks to achieve its mission by building a global network of academic institutions, especially Jesuit universities, and connecting the students with local artisans. Students from different universities work together to identify products and conduct market research, which helps local artisans gain access to market-based tools and a global market. This, in turn, helps establish a sustainable and inclusive model of development by creating a virtuous cycle of jobs and generating a stable source of income to members of the community living in the developing world.

The Ignatian Family Teach-in for Justice was an excellent platform for Spes Nova to engage in discussions with the Ignatian family in the context of social justice and solidarity. We, as well as Dr. Rengifo and Alison, presented at one of the many 50-minute breakout sessions that took place at the conference. We discussed our organization’s goals and mission and how we are working together with our partners to achieve our goals. Dr. Rengifo highlighted Spes Nova’s three-pillar approach to sustainable and inclusive development, which comprises of microfinance, market development, and microinsurance. Alison provided advice and technical details on setting up a local chapter at your university.

As one of the sponsors for this great gathering, Spes Nova also had the opportunity to showcase and sell its products at an exhibition booth during the event. We were excited to meet enthusiastic customers from the Ignatian family attending the conference and encouraged by their purchase of high-quality and ethically-sourced products from around the world.

We look forward to achieving our mission of helping the working poor uplift their communities and provide better health and education to their children by building more partnerships and expanding our network of academic institutions in the days to come.