Where to?

We need to make some big organizational-design decisions (see “Three Models” below). However, our choice of organizational model will be significantly influenced by our Mission Statement. So, we need to revisit our Mission Statement. That is the purpose of this blog.  It is broken down into three parts: (1) our current Mission Statement (2) the questions motivating this discussion and (3) the organizational models we are considering.

Here is the schedule:

All proposed Mission Statements (from any one in the La Ceiba family) are welcome. They are due on or before: Monday, September 15 at 12 pm EST

Discussion of the Various Mission Statement proposals will occur between: Monday, September 15 at 12 pm EST and Monday September 22. Using our Decision-Making process that includes all four constituent groups, we will select 3 proposed Mission Statements for further discussion.

Using our Decision-Making Process, we will select a Mission Statement on or before Tuesday, September 30 at 5 pm EST.

Just leave your thoughts by posting a comment. AND, feel free to comment on the comments! Thanks. – dr H



Our mission is to provide the financial and educational tools our clients need to give poverty a beat down.


For years, we have struggled articulating what it is that we do. This is because we have multiple beneficiaries of our work: our clients and ourselves. Moving ahead we need organizational clarity. Who takes precedent in our organization? Clients or Students? What do we do best? Provision of client-centered services or rewilding of students?

III. THREE PROPOSED ORGANIZATIONAL MODELS (We will have a discussion of three models and others after we decide on our mission)

Executive Director and Dr H

The Executive Director (ED) would spend his/her time between Honduras and the US. In addition to maintaining our programs in Honduras (which may require the assistance of a full-time loan officer as well), this individual would have to take on a number of additional tasks: fundraising, fulfilling any and all requirements to maintain our non-profit status, speaking engagement, maintaining relationships with alumni, working with students, coordinating with SHH, ect.

Dr H would focus on the classroom and organize students to assist ED on projects that ED, Dr H and Students concluded were in need of being completed.


ED would give LC the attention it deserves:

Pursuing Grants

Donor Relations

Alumni Relations

Client Services

Dr H stays in the classroom where he belongs. It would free up additional time, energy and effort to focus on the classroom and continual development of Tribal Teaching.

Students spend more time creating programs and less time fundraising.

If we secure grants for student travel, more students may be able to travel to Honduras at low cost.

ED can connect with the reset of Microfinance Community to raise professional profile of LC

ED executes the Month of Microfinance (using it as a platform to raise our profile)

Could “LC in Box” rise from the ashes?


Salary of ED would have the biggest impact on our budget.

We may need a drastic increase in the number of clients – what will this do to our “replacing collateral with a relationship” philosophy?

We would have to hire a full-time Honduran loan officer to carry out tasks when ED is in the states.

ED may erode the authority and sovereignty of students.

Program Director (Honduran) and Dr H

A full-time Program Director (PD) in Honduras who is Honduran fulfills all the responsibilities that Santiago currently fulfills: loans, coffee and donuts, working with students, arranging for student travel, and working with SHH. Dr H and his students fulfill the administrative responsibilities of being a non-profit, donor relations, fundraising, and alumni relations.


We provide a professional opportunity for someone in El Progreso.

Our clients receive more cultural understanding.

Our students have access to more culturally accurate information.


Will the PD internalize our way of doing things in Honduras?

Dr H does not speak Spanish – Program Director would need to be bilingual.

Dr H and his students are not very good at raising funds, applying for grants, and donor relations.

Program Director (Alumnus) and Dr H

A graduating student or recent alumnus becomes the full-time Program Director in Honduras (for 1 or 2 years) and fulfills all the responsibilities that Santiago currently fulfills: loans, coffee and donuts, working with students, arranging for student travel, and working with SHH.  Dr H and his students fulfill the administrative responsibilities of being a non-profit, donor relations, fundraising, and alumni relations. We would rotate the Program Director every 1 or 2 years.


Incredible platform for graduating students

Encroachment on role of undergraduates will be minimal. A recent grad will know some if not most of the students enrolled in the class.

Keep our budget smaller


Will SHH be okay with a rotation of young people in and out of their offices?

Physical safety (highest risk) – we would be introducing a young person into a difficult context.

Emotional Well-being of PD – once again we are introducing a young person into a difficult context for an extended period of time.

Will there always be a graduating student willing and able to take on this role?

What will happen with relationships with clients? Will our repayments begin to drop? Will we lose trust?

What about the variation in the capabilities of each new program director? How poorly will our client services suffer?

Dr H and his students are not very good at raising funds, applying for grants, and donor relations.



Budget Impact Student-Centered Client-Centered Alignment w/ LC Mission
Executive Director Most Moderate Most ?
Program Director – Honduran Moderate Least Moderate ?
Program Director – Alumnus Least Most Least ?



10 Responses to “Where to?

  • Jeff Paddock
    10 years ago

    It doesn’t have any spice to it, but this may be a good place to begin constructing a new mission statement:

    ‘Our mission is to exchange student experiential learning for financial services to our clients.’

    I’m curious to know what you all think..

  • Ana Hecton
    10 years ago

    Lots of thoughts….

    I haven’t formed thoughts yet on the exact wording of a new mission statement. But as a general idea I think it should capture our equal focus on being both client and student centered and also something along the lines of providing tools to allow our clients to beat poverty and our students to become “change making animals”

    As for the organizational model:

    I don’t think that having an Executive Director is the most effective model mostly important because I think it would be very difficult to find someone who is able to split their time that much between the US and Honduras. And even if we were able to find someone who is able to split there time that way, I don’t know how effective it would be. I feel as though our clients in Honduras wouldn’t have the closest relationship with the ED since he or she would be traveling back and forth and I think it’s really essential for the person on-sight to have a close relationship with the clients, in which the clients feel comfortable and able to approach him or her.

    I think that having a PD that is Honduran would definitely be beneficial since that person comes from the same culture as our clients, it makes the whole thing more personal and in a sense more client-centered. However, my fear with having a PD that is Honduran is that we could lose our ethos, not intentionally of course, but simply because the Honduran PD was never in the classroom.

    I think that ideally an Alumnus PD is what would keep things closer to our morals and ideals, but I do think that having a Honduran on our side to provide context and cultural knowledge is extremely beneficial as well. That’s how I see Chilo’s role. I think that having an Alumnus PD who is on-sight, and familiar with our ethos alongside a Honduran who helps and carries out tasks and provides context and in the meantime is learning our ethos by example and through conversation with the Alumnus PD, is the best model for us.

    IDEA: The one thing that I really like about the ED’s role is that that person would travel to the US and sort of lead fundraising, get grants, etc. Well, what if we had an Alumnus PD, a Honduran as sort of the right-hand man to the PD, and another Alumnus in the US who takes on the fundraising, grants, etc, as a paid position, maybe even just a part-time position. This Alumnus would obviously be very familiar with the class, our structure, where we are going, this could be a very effective way for fundraising while still keeping the structure that we have now. Just a thought!

  • Santiago Sueiro (@SueiroSantiago)
    10 years ago

    Here is what I came up with:

    Our mission is to awaken sensitivity towards inequality and cultivate agency by operating an empirical service that pursues shared progress.

    • Last night Ana, Santi and I had a really explorative conversation about this. At the first read I thought that santis proposed mission statement was a bit vague, albeit extremely delicately worded and accurate. But given the variety of conversations that are no longer a byproduct of running Lc but now an integral part of the organizational processes, I think that our mission can be phrased in such a way that it doesn’t mention money. The conversations we sometimes entertain are in fact questioning and challenging to the culture of credit and use of financial services in tandem with deficient systems that are out of the scope of micro finance as a defined industry: education, police, social trust in gov, etc. not to say mf isn’t our tool because it so clearly is. But our mission seems to be equally about generating these conversations and moulding and remoulding micro finance as we understand it and want to use it. That said, I think we could revisit the language ‘operate an empirical service,’ because it throws mf as a specific service into the dark corners a bit. It’s not something we don’t want to claim, but our mission should probably reflect our motivations, and in that sense I think that the rest of this mission statement captures that really well. I definitely would like to read some counter thoughts on this. Sorry for the brevity and autocorrects; I’m typing this on my phone. What do you guys think? Is the conversation as large a part of what we achieve as the service itself? Or do you find that a more mf-specific mission accurately characterizes us?

  • From LC Alumnus Melanie Walter:

    “La Ceiba’s mission is to combat poverty by connecting students and Honduran financial services clients through a unique experiential learning program in a cross-cultural setting that fosters personal, financial, and professional growth as all stakeholders confront the challenges of poverty and privilege. “

  • Alex Rodriguez
    10 years ago

    Our mission is to provide our clients with financial tools that result in mutual progression and growth.

  • Jeff Paddock
    10 years ago

    After two in class discussions this is the current list of proposals. Let us know what you think:

    Our mission is to awaken sensitivity about inequality by exchanging financial services in a cross-cultural setting that PURSUES SHARED PROGRESS.

    Pursue shared progress for students and clients through the medium of micro-finance

    Students give to clients, clients give to students. that’s it

    A to provide financial tools to clients and experiential learning to students. \pepper and spice\

    To inspire self motivated learning amongst our students

    Igniting shared self motivated learning

    A shared mutuality of growth between students and clients

    Igniting a beneficial opportunity for clients and students where shared progress is achieved through the medium of microfinance.

  • I like the themes of mutuality and shared progress that emerged in class, because I think that nicely encapsulates our dual mission, but I’m not in love with any of the particular wordings. My favorite so far is the second: “pursue shared progress for students and clients through the medium of microfinance,” although I wonder if there’s another way of phrasing “students and clients” that will be more accessible to those who don’t know the jargon we use. I don’t think we should compromise our values in the language we use (by referring to our clients as anything demeaning), but I often face questions when I speak of ‘our clients’ without giving some background first. The mission ideally should represent what we try to do for ourselves, to motivate us, and for outsiders who want to understand us in a sentence.

  • Jeff Paddock
    10 years ago

    Could you elaborate a little bit on the questions you face when talking about ‘clients’? I would be interested to know.

    I think we should reinvigorate the discussion now that it has stalled mid way through the semester. I think this forum should choose three concrete options that should then be taken to a final class discussion. We can have a mission statement nailed down by Oct. 30th if not earlier.

  • Jeff,

    When I’m explaining La Ceiba to people who want a 30 second elevator spiel, they’re often taken aback for whatever reason by the use of ‘our clients’. I think it’s partially that many (most) student development organizations tend to use a different vocabulary, talking about ‘the poor’ or ‘the women we’re helping’ – generally making rather sweeping statements. It’s a choice we’ve made not to use that vocabulary, and I stand by that choice and don’t think that we should adopt it now, but I’m searching for another language that communicates our approach to our clients to outsiders more concisely. I’m not sure there is a better way of phrasing it than ‘our clients’ – I’ve been searching for this language for years – but I was hoping somebody would have an elegant way of putting it.

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