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The Badger Herald

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The Badger Herald

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Distinguished Lecture Series to start new program, Changemakers@UW

http://http://vimeo.com/9543079

Bill Marler’s full lecture

A new branch of the Distinguished Lecture Series will showcase speakers who use business to cure social ills.

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Changemakers@UW is a new series created by UW junior Vignesh Valliappan that will bring in speakers to the Memorial Union to show the benefits of social entrepreneurship.

The first speaker will be Bill Marler, an attorney who represents those who have been victims of food-borne illnesses. The lecture will be held Feb. 8 at the Memorial Union in the Great Hall.

Marler’s lecture, titled “Chasing the Ambulance Away: Reshaping the Role of the Personal Injury Lawyer in Society,” will discuss personal injury litigation and its role in public safety, said Valliappan in a statement.

Nonprofit organizations and charities are commonly thought of as venues at which to donate and to help others. Social entrepreneurship, Director of DLS Reid Tice said, is the idea that capitalism is the best way to make social changes.

Social entrepreneurship, according to Valliappan, can range from developing affordable products to market to developing countries, to giving loans to people trying to start businesses half a world away.

“Instead of being a charity, they could [function] better as a business,” Tice said.

Changemakers@UW serves as a compliment to DLS. While DLS brings in a variety of speakers from a number of disciplines, Valliappan said the new series focuses on one niche.

Tice said the series was born from brainstorming ideas to make DLS better and was accepted by the DLS committee at the end of last summer.

Valliappan said Changemakers@UW would try to integrate events into its programming along with lectures, while DLS is strictly lectures.

Grameen Bank, which won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, has committed to send a representative to come to University of Wisconsin to do an event on microfinancing, the date of which has not been announced.

While Valliappan was unsure of what an event by Grameen Bank would entail, he said one possible activity would be a speaker talking to UW classes about microfinance.

Microfinance is a facet of social entrepreneurship which allows people who have been denied loans at traditional banks a way to borrow and start small businesses, Valliappan said.

It is used frequently in developing countries where low-income people did have credit histories and were denied loans because lenders did not believe they would pay the loans back, he said.

Valliappan also said loans can be given out by anyone, even a college student. The loans can be given through the Internet and the repayment rate is high.

He said the popularity of using microfinancing has been on the rise in the last 30 years and will continue to be a part of future banking.

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