Results from IICDC Annual Business Survey – by Maureen Book

MicroTestSurveyResultsIISTLEvery year, the International Institute Economic Development Department has been fortunate to participate in the MicroTracker Business Outcomes survey designed and coordinated by the Aspen Institute’s FIELD Initiative. This survey, which we conduct every summer, is designed to help us gather information about our clients’ businesses and how they performed over the past year, as well as our clients’ satisfaction with the services our program delivers.

This past summer, we surveyed all of our business clients who had an active loan with us or who had received over 10 hours of technical assistance from us in 2011. The survey gathered information about how their business had performed in 2012 and compared it to their business performance upon enrollment in our program. Our data was then reviewed and analyzed by the Aspen Institute, who submitted a report to us highlighting both our program’s successes and benchmarking the outcomes of our program against other Microloan programs nationwide. The survey process provides us with very valuable insight about the performance of our clients as compared to other clients of Microloan programs. It also allows us the opportunity to check in with our clients and ensure that we are actively providing the services that they need. The infographic below highlights some of the results from the survey. For more information, check out


Stepping In – by Cynthia Holman

A Day in the Life of the IISTL profiles experiences of interns and staff during their day at the International Institute.

Since I started interning for language services office a few weeks ago, I have had a few interesting encounters with clients. A couple weeks ago, I had walked into the Language Services office and was getting organized for the day when I was informed that I may need to fill in for a Spanish interpreter later that morning. For a moment, I was in shock. I was really nervous about interpreting.  It was never for anything as important as I knew it would be for the client that day. My nerves were somewhat calmed when I was informed that the individual working with the client knew that I was new to interpreting. He was more than happy for me to fill in for the interpreter anyway. I nervously walked over to where the meeting took place and introduced myself to the client and her legal representative. I became much more at ease when I realized that I was successfully able to interpret for the client without stumbling over the words. Although another interpreter was able to take over after only about ten minutes, it was gratifying to know that I was able to use my language skills when it really counted-to reach out to one of our clients.

The Perfect Blend by Faye Cross

With the right ingredients you can make the perfect blend of almost anything. Try to picture the ideal volunteer!  They possess all the essential qualities and attributes that blend together making the ideal volunteer. One thing for sure is for sure,  the ideal volunteer  makes a difference by always leaving a positive impact on the lives they serve .

What do you get when you incorporate the  perfect blend of spirit, talent, education, and culture? You get Evgenia “Jane” Safina, a volunteer working  her internship in the Employment Services department  at the International Institute of St. Louis.  Jane discovered the volunteer opportunities at the International Institute when she performed Russian Folk dancing at the Festival of Nations. “That festival showed me how big and diverse St. Louis is”, she says.

“I think it is great that we have such a festival in St. Louis where you may meet new people from different cultures, try their food, listen to their music and learn different things that they brought with them from all over the world”, she adds.

Jane herself is from St. Petersburg, Russia which is one of the world’s leading cultural centers. Her exuberant and youthful spirit makes for a perfect ingredient in the ideal volunteer. Working with people of different cultures requires compassion and open communication. She likes to meet new people especially from different countries and learn about their culture. “I am a very open, communicative, and friendly person who likes to help people”, she further adds.

Another essential ingredient that Jane possess is related to her educational background. She was president of the International Club at STLCC Meramec for two years; working with diverse cultures from around world. She came to the U.S. to learn English and to earn a degree in Organizational Leadership.

Jane works in the employment services department providing refugees and immigrants with an assortment of workforce solution products; such as resumes and job application assistance. “I try to apply things that I learn at school towards the internship at the Institute; and I discuss my experience at the Institute with my class”, she asserts.  Her spirit of compassion and exuberance, dance talents, education and cultural background all make for the perfect blend to create the ideal volunteer. What do you think?

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