Diletta Taris

PhD Student
MSc in Social Business and Microfinance 2015

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Diletta was part of the first Social Business and Microfinance cohort when the course began in 2014. For her, the degree is important as it examines how businesses can improve social conditions – a mission close to her heart. 

One of the ways this can be achieved is through provision of small loans to disadvantaged communities, known as microfinance. We spoke to Diletta about her time at Glasgow Caledonian University. 

The decision to swap Italy for Scotland was motivated by sheer coincidence. While Diletta was an undergraduate student at the University of Florence, she took part in an inter-university program which looked at inequalities within the EU. The majority of the attendees from the UK studied at GCU. 

“I liked the sound of GCU and read about the work Professor Yunus, at the time chancellor of GCU and instrumental in the creation of my MSc Also, I wanted to do a degree in English. It all fit together,” she said. 

“My favourite part was the diversity on the course. We had more Italians than Scots, and we had a lot of people from Africa. That was really good because I had never experienced, especially in an educational setting, anyone coming from an African point of view. They brought their specialised knowledge of microfinance as it is a concept that's more widely discussed over there.”

The spirit of social justice that underpins the course aligns with her own beliefs. She always questions the world around her and seeks to work towards achieving social justice.

She explains:The course has piqued my interest, especially because I'm into gender issues as well. Microfinance was born as a way to empower women out of poverty. 

“So, around the world, especially in developing countries, it's more about women than it is about men because women have less opportunity to generate income.” 

After her dissertation was praised as the best of the year group, she started working for Grameen UK. She got to use knowledge from her thesis which examined the gender imbalance within the microfinance lender. 

“I loved being at Grameen, it was a great experience, but, for me, what made it interesting was that I could go out and meet the groups. I was a Community Development Officer so my job was to support the communities we served. What I found the most interesting was getting to chat with people. 

“I didn't care about the money or the business side. I was learning about those communities and that was what I thought was interesting. So then I thought, now I know these communities, what can I learn?” she said. 

Since then, she has won a studentship to undertake a PhD at GCU so she can take this question further. 

She said: “In microfinance, we need to develop trust with the people we're lending money to because they don't have a credit history so we need to build a relationship. I wanted to understand more about that. My job is literally learning so it's quite good for the person I am.

“Also, my supervisor now is the same one who followed me through my masters and she's awesome. The rest of the team is also great, and I am really enjoying working with them.” 

When Diletta is not trawling through decade’s worth of literature for her PhD, she represents GCU for the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science. The main aim, she says, is to make sure all social science PhD students receive the same level of training and advice. 

She also volunteers to help international students settle with a host family through My Education UK. In terms of the future, Diletta is confident that she wants to continue working towards achieving social justice, in line with GCU’s ethos. 

She said: “I found out exactly what the common good is after I joined GCU, but also the fact that they were, at the time, the only university in Europe delivering a program about Social Business and Microfinance hinted to the fact that that is what this university does. I'm really into the mission and vision of GCU.”

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