The Haskayne School of Business is always looking for unique opportunities to educate and equip our students with the abilities to deal with real-world problems they may encounter.
On Feb. 11, students were challenged to find alternatives to short-term, high-interest loans at the Safe and Affordable Financial Engagement (SAFE) Case Competition. This competition was created to better educate our students on the challenges of using alternative lenders in Alberta.
First-time case competition competitors and third-year Haskayne students Valeria Flores, Zoya Mirza and Matt Thon took first place.
“I entered the SAFE competition because I wanted to better familiarize myself with the financial industry and its applicability in real world issues,” says Flores.
“Throughout this experience, I have learnt that through compassion we can ignite the drive within ourselves to come up with innovative and feasible solutions to better people's lives. Valeria Flores, third year Marketing student at Haskayne.”
An estimated 200,000 people take out small-dollar credit loans for alternative lenders in Alberta each year. Lenders offer short-term credit alternatives in a quick manner while charging large fees for this convenience. The SAFE Case Competition challenged undergraduate and graduate students at Calgary's colleges and universities to explore solutions for safe and affordable financial products and services for every income level in Canada.
Mirza was quick to recognize that that short term loans are not good for individuals who are not very financially aware and are living month-to-month. “It was interesting to understand how banking institutions worked. Our Idea came from different angles that we all provide: Mark and I were looking at how we can benefit the bank, whereas Valeria was looking more at the social aspect.”
“If we are willing to truly listen, we can all learn something that we can apply to the world of business and develop ourselves as individuals,” adds Mirza.
The students walked away with a prize of $1250, an audience with the board at First Calgary Financial and the opportunity to be mentored by an ATB representative to sit down and discuss the reality of their idea.
“I joined because I wanted to learn how me, as a student, could help Albertans in financial hardships. I learned how to work in a team and that large institutions actually care what students think,” says Thon.
“I have broadened my knowledge of financing, legislation, current institutional practices and further enhanced my interest in starting my own social enterprise. An absolutely invaluable experience, thank you so much to the Haskayne School of Business for this opportunity.”