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I got the opportunity to conduct in depth research on an economic or business topic

Thijmen Calis

Last year Floor Rink started a pilot of the FEB Specialisation Track for FEB BA Honours students in which it would be possible to conduct in depth research on an economic or business topic. Since I was highly interested in microfinance I got the chance to be supervised by Robert Lensink, a well-known researcher in the field of microfinance.

On October 2013 the cycloon Phailin struck the east coast of India and therefore more than 500.000 people had to be evacuated. Robert had data on these affected households before and after the cyclone. He opted that I would investigate empirically whether there was a difference between members of a microfinance institution (MFI) and non-members.

In particular I tested whether microfinance members had a better ability to recover from the natural disaster than non-members. Aljar Meesters gave me advice on empirical research and the statistical software Stata in general. He was closely related to the project. Shortly before going abroad to Manila and Hong Kong for voluntary work and a semester abroad I delivered as final product a paper. The paper discussed the coping capacity after a natural disaster contrasting MFI-members and non-members.

Thijmen Calis
Thijmen Calis

Subsequent to my arrival in the Netherlands, seven months later, my supervisors informed me that first the abstract and later the introduction of my paper had been sent to the European Research Conference on Microfinance. Both parts were interestingly enough for a follow up question on whether we could send them the complete paper. In April 2015 we received the news that the paper, which had been improved by Robert, Aljar and me on several parts, was allowed to be presented in Geneva.  

During 1st to 3rd of June I walked around at this conference listening to and talking with researchers and practitioners. Lectures on a wide range of research on microfinance were given, but also a more existential question of whether research on microfinance was still necessary was discussed. At the 2nd of June I presented the paper Microfinance in the aftermath of a natural disaster and received constructive feedback which I would take with me to the Netherlands.

Apart from the lectures there was enough to experience in Geneva. There was one gala night organised for the researchers on a boat on the lake of Geneva. Another night I was invited to a concert in the beautiful Victoria Hall by the woman who organised it and was living in the same hostel. The last night of my stay I enjoyed the nightlife with a Swiss girl whom I had met at the concert.

The feedback which I received at the conference is now being implemented in the paper. When finished my supervisors and I will try to get the research published. The work on this microfinance project enhanced my research and writing skills which benefited me during the time I had to write my bachelor thesis. In addition, the time in Geneva was an unforgettable experience.
Last modified:08 March 2016 10.44 a.m.
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