Today was our first day at University of Agder. Professor Roy Mersland took us through the introduction part. We need to be OUTPUT focused. Expecations are that we should be able to submit our thesis within three (3) years, although it may take longer, but we only have financing for three years. The three years conform to new EU-standards. Norway lives up to the requirements of the EU and has applied for membership three times, but public opinion in Norway has not yet viewed a membership as beneficial (same thing with Switzerland).
We are not just writing a PhD, we are making a new career. It is up to us to find funding after three years.
Overall, the first day provided a good introduction to what is expected of us. We learn that there are rules, which we need to follow and which clearly set the expectations of us. It is challenging, but not overwhelming.
We were challenged to explain our research ideas, using the “mother in law” test, which means we had 4 minutes to write down our ideas, and one minute to present it, in a way which anyone could understand.
My current research question idea: Who profits from Microfinace?
Microfinance creates jobs and helps people out of poverty, supposedly, but is not a magic cure to poverty alleviation. Mining for minerals also creates jobs, but where do the profits go? In other words, what happens between the investor and the end user of the capital? Are the investment funds, the intermediaries, reaping a lot of the benefits? Are they efficient? What about the investor? Is he or she getting a return which is fairly reflecting the risk of the investment? Debt financing is a pretty secure form of financing businesses and entrepreneurs, so why is not equity financing part of Micro Finance to such a high degree? Is the capital structure of the MFIs (the local Microbanks) optimal? What effects to international debt have on the MFIs? Etc. Many questions, and not yet a narrow focus… How do one answer a question like this?