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Carter Garber

Position: 
Adjunct Professor, Executive Director of IDEAS
Carter Garber photo
Contact: 

Each Spring Semester, Dr. Garber teaches 5 mini-courses at Payson:

  1. Microfinance & Microenterprise for Development: Assisting Women’s Businesses;
  2. Microfranching: Innovative Method to Expand Enterprises of the Poor
  3. Social Enterprises and Their Entrepreneurs;
  4. Social Performance: Managing to Improve The Triple Bottom Line; and
  5. Market Research: Qualitative Tools to Understand the Needs of the Poor.

Dr. Garber is an economist and practitioner with 35 years of professional experience in the field of community economic development and finance. He is an accomplished consultant in the field of international microfinance and enterprise development and has worked on projects in four continents during more than 2.5 decades. He currently directs IDEAS, the Institute for Development, Evaluation, Assistance and Solutions, a non-profit organization that he founded.

Carter is a social entrepreneur who has helped found 5 financial institutions:

  • He conceptualized and created a non-profit microfinance institution (MFI) in Nicaragua called PRESTANIC, for which he was the first General Manager. Started in 1991, it was the first Nicaraguan MFI that depended on socially responsible investors for the vast majority of its capital;
  • He was the organizing Chair of the Board for a for-profit MFI in El Salvador (Enlace) as it sought shareholders from Europe, US and El Salvador;
  • He created a Microfinance Investment Vehicle (MIV) to channel socially responsible investments in MFIs and agricultural cooperatives in Nicaragua. Twenty four years later, Working Capital for Community needs lends in 5 other countries. It has lent $100 million dollars since he founded it;
  • He was the lead consultant to assist CARE to found MicroVest, a for-profit MIV that works worldwide;
  • As the Financial Officer, he created the organizing effort and led the effort to obtain a federal charter for a credit union designed to serve Latinos and other underserved populations.

He founded and managed Southern Neighborhoods Network (dba IDEAS) a consulting group in the Southern US in the 1970s-80s as well as an international consulting agency from the 1990s to present. In addition, Dr. Garber has been the social entrepreneur helping to found some 20 other social enterprises and development organizations in North and Latin America. These include being the founder of three housing enterprises, the organizing chair of a credit bureau in El Salvador, founding staff director of several development corporations and a foundation. He assisted with the formation of a health clinic, was the founding editor of two development periodicals, and established various tuition-based educational institutes in the US, Central America and Africa. Carter was the founding Director of a statewide network of social enterprises, TNCED, the Tennessee Network for Community Economic Development.

One distinguishing mark is that Dr. Garber not only founds social enterprises and turns them over in a turn-key manner to indigenous staff after proving their viability but he builds enterprises to last. It is noteworthy that eight have continued beyond their 20th anniversary. In addition, he has lent to a wide variety of social enterprises and MFIs in Latin and North America.

 Dr. Garber is currently the Executive Director of IDEAS, an international non-profit with a network of microfinance and development consultants around the world. Carter and the team consult in market research, product development, microfinance institutional development, poverty assessment, and different types of evaluation. Under Carter’s leadership the team has developed tools and educational curriculum in impact assessment and social performance management used by many prominent national MFIs and MFI networks. Carter has consulted on private investment with microfinance institutions and MIVs. www.ideasnet.org

After more than a decade of doing research and work on microenterprise development, Dr. Garber began promoting microfranchise as a new approach to strengthening the enterprises of low income persons.  He has developed some of the first microfranchise training materials in Spanish and taught a graduate course in Spanish in Nicaragua in 2010 on the subject. He was an invited speaker on microfranchise to 200 microfinance professionals at the REDCAMIF Regional Conference in Costa Rica. He has been an invited speaker to two audiences by the El Salvadoran governmental Commission for Micro and Small Enterprise, introducing microfranchising to many enterprise professionals and government officials. He has shared information with both the Ministry of Economy and the Economic Secretariat of the Office of the Presidency in El Salvador. Carter has led research in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. He was contracted by the American University (UAM) and the Nicaraguan Chamber of Commerce, which were funded by the Inter-American Bank, to do field investigation, carry out 50 interviews, and write a hundred page document in Spanish on the “Potential to Develop Microfranchises in Nicaragua.”  

In 2011, Carter founded the first microfranchise in Nicaragua, TecAp. As the General Manager, he is piloting a microfranchise in which rural women sell solar-powered items such as flashlights, lanterns, cell phone chargers as well as panels (www.tecap.info). It serves an one of the examples in the course he teaches on microfranchising.

Carter has the benefit of knowing a wide range of microfinance institutions (MFIs) from many vantage points while making considerable contributions to the field. For example he:

  • Has been the General Manager of PRESTANIC in Nicaragua;
  • Chaired the Board of Enlace in El Salvador;
  • Performed due diligence and helped make decisions to lend to many MFIs and fair trade coffee cooperatives as well as other agricultural coops;
  • Provided strategic advice to European and US lending agencies and donors to MFIs;
  • Pioneered channeling socially responsible investment capital to international microfinance.
  • Has been a speaker on social investment at forums like SRI in the Rockies and the Microcredit Summit;
  • Evaluated many MFIs and assisted others to do self-appraisals as well as market research to develop new products.
  • Provided consultancy services through the years to a variety of actors, including MFIs, their parent NGOs, their affiliated PVO networks, lending agencies, and donors.

Dr. Garber has served as a trainer and consultant to national microfinance networks in Latin America and Africa. He also has consulted on various occasions with SEEP Network (its members are most of the major PVOs in North America doing microfinance internationally). He has been an international microfinance consultant to many of the SEEP Network members, like CARE, Catholic Relief Services, FINCA International, Opportunity International, MEDA, Freedom from Hunger, World Vision, and Katalysis. Many other SEEP members have sent their senior staff to be trained by him.  He has served as a consultant in socially responsible investments to Oikocredit, Calvert Social Investment Foundation, and helped CARE set up MicroVest.

Dr. Garber has written and taught in academic venues on microfinance in the United States, Africa, and Latin America. He was the founder of the Microenterprise Development Institute in 1998 at Southern New Hampshire University and taught there for 10 years. He helped develop a regional microfinance curriculum at the university level throughout Central America and taught in a Masters in Microfinance in Nicaragua at the American University (UAM). He in an adjunct professor at Tulane University.

Carter has written articles for development journals and periodicals. He has authored monographs and book chapters and developed many training materials in English and Spanish. He was the founder & editor of a periodical in the southern US for 11 years and another in Tennessee for 6 years. Before going to live and work in Central America for over a decade, Carter worked for 13 years in community economics in the Southeastern US.

Primary Classification: 
Degrees: 
  • B.A. with High Distinction from the University of Michigan with High Honors in both majors of History and Middle Eastern Studies. His Honors Thesis was on Syria. He worked in the Middle East in community development after his degree.      
  • North African Center for Arabic Study (Tunis, Tunisia). Scholarship for Arabic language and travel from the United States Department of Education, 1972
  • M.A., Vermont College of Norwich University, Economics with emphasis in Development Economics, 1988. His Master's thesis focused on community economic development in Nicaragua.
  • Ph.D., The Union Institute and University, Economics, 1998 with concentrations in finance, development economics and microeconomics. His dissertation is entitled “Private Financing of Microcredit: The Models and Potential of U.S. Socially Responsible Investment in International Small Enterprise Credit.” It was one of the first dissertations on international microfinance.
Academic Experience: 
  • Adjunct Professor, Payson Center for International Development on the Faculty of the Liberal Arts and Sciences of Tulane University, 2002-2015. Has taught short, intensive courses in the Spring of 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.
  • Adjunct Professor at the School of International Service at American University, Washington, DC. Taught a course on Organizational Development in 2014. Previously, had taught there.
  • Adjunct Professor at the American University (UAM) in Managua, Nicaragua in two different years.
  • Professor in the MA in Organizational Development with Specialization in Microfinance Management in the Philippines. Organized by the Southeast Asia Interdisciplinary Development Institute, CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions and Southern New Hampshire University, 2008-2009
  • Adjunct Faculty at School of Community Economic Development and earlier with the Graduate School of Business of Southern New Hampshire University
    • Taught almost every year for a decade in the Annual Microenterprise Development Institute.
  • Chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee for the Microenterprise Development, Institute of Southern New Hampshire University, 1999 – 2009
  • Researcher, Lead Trainer, and Member of the Advisory Panel on Poverty Assessment Tools for the Institute for Institutional Reform and the Informal Sector of the University Research Corporation International of the University of Maryland, Associated with the Economics Department. 2003-2006
  • Visiting Professor at the University of the North, Polokwane, Limpopo Province, South Africa, 2004
    • Taught course for the Microenterprise and Development Certificate Course
  • Adjunct Senior Research Associate, North-South Center of the University of Miami, 1998-2003.
    • Research and writing on the impact evaluation, market research and client impact of Latin American microfinance institutions
  • Adjunct Faculty, Graduate School of Business at Southern New Hampshire College, 1998 
  • Served on the Central American Regional Committee for the Microenterprise Development Diploma, coordinating the teaching by one national university in each of five Central American countries  plus Panama. Additionally, chaired the El Salvador Committee for the Microenterprise Development Diploma, which is being offered by the Don Bosco University in San Salvador, 1999 – 2000
  • Consultant, Community Economic of the New Hampshire College Graduate School of Business, 1998
  • Designed course and taught in Spanish a course in Puerto Rico for the Puerto Rico Foundation
    Adjunct Faculty, American University, Spring 1998, Fall 1999, and Fall of 2000
    •  Designed and taught graduate courses in the Department of International Development of the School of International Service
  • Faculty Status at Wesley Theological Seminary as part of his role as the Visiting Scholar at the Churches Center for Theology and Public Policy, 1996— 1998
  • Instructor, North-South Center of the University of Miami and American University School of International Service. 1996-1997
    • Taught seminars on microenterprise and microcredit
  • Instructor, Management and Community Development Institute at Tufts University, 1988 and 1992
    • Taught Community Economic Development Process and International Development
  • Instructor, Taught seminars on economic development and state economic policy at the: University of Tennessee and the University of Tennessee Law School (Knoxville, TN);  Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt Divinity School (Nashville, TN); Fisk University (Nashville, TN); Middle Tennessee State University (Murfreesboro, TN); Scarritt-Bennet Center (formerly Scarritt College); and Memphis State University (Memphis, TN). 1982 -1988
  • Researcher in community development with Georgia Institute of Technology, 1981
  • Taught seminars on community and economic development and supervised students from Georgia State University, Agnes Scott College, Candler Theological Seminary, and Columbia Seminary, 1976 -1980
Languages: 
Country Experience: 
Nicaragua
El Salvador
Guatemala

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