Ohio Wesleyan Student Works with Refugees Seeking to Start Businesses
Name: Josh Martineau ’19
Minor: Politics and Government
Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts
Experience: Theory-to-Practice Grant, “Microfinance in Costa Rica”
Martineau worked during the summer at Fundación Mujer, an organization that specializes in the financial and personal development of female entrepreneurs in Costa Rica. Fundación Mujer seek to reach underserved populations that include indigenous communities, immigrants, refugees, victims of domestic violence, and women living with HIV/AIDS.
Lessons learned: “I worked in the office with women who help refugees who are starting a business, want to take classes to become employable, and need credit to accomplish these goals.
This presented me with an interesting opportunity to learn about the struggles of refugees in Costa Rica and how they try to establish themselves here through work. I was able to see the results of their work when I helped set up for fair designed toward refugees called IntegrArte. …
“Working in the micro-credit organization gave me a better understanding of Costa Rican business and how refugees can integrate through means of running a small business.
“My experience working with Fundación Mujer had an impact on several facets of my life. Academically, I was able to use information that I learned in both my research methods and marketing courses to help with projects that they were working on at the time.
“Being in an environment where I had to speak Spanish also had a great impact on me, and I now feel much more confident with my language capability.
“As far as my professional life, this experience gave me a preview as to how a non-governmental organization runs and is structured in other countries. After reflecting on my experience, I am considering pursuing a career with a company that helps their community through microcredit and similar services.
“To me it seems like a great way to reduce economic inequality all the while teaching entrepreneurs valuable skills that they will need for the rest of their life.”
Why I chose Ohio Wesleyan: “I chose OWU for a couple reasons. I was interested in the numerous abroad programs offered, specifically the Theory-to-Practice Grant program. I also wanted to learn in a small classroom environment where I can more easily engage with my professors.”
My plans after graduation: “After graduation, I hope to be with a financing company that eventually will allow me to work in their office abroad.”