A number of Bryn Mawr students have been interested in Microfinance over the years (and regularly take my class!) . Last year they started meeting regularly, participated in Lend for America events (see pic of Tri-Co participants) and have now formed Big Hill Entrepreneurial Fund (BHEF). Like HMFC (Haverford Microfinance Consulting) they have chosen to work with Kiva Zip to enable local entrepreneurs operating in areas with little access to formal finance obtain funds through Kiva Zip’s Crowdfunding platform.
As noted in earlier posts, Kiva Zip uses some of the lessons learned in the microfinance industry to leverage the entrepreneur’s own network and social capital to make character loans with a high probability of repayment. The entrepreneur raises initial funds in a private fundraising period where they ask their own family and friends to participate by making a zero interest loan through Kiva Zip. Then, once they have demonstrated their own community is willing to support them, they can go public on Kiva Zip’s platform to attract zero interest loans from the general public.
BHEF has just endorsed their first client, Cherry Wong, a beautician who recently bought out the beauty salon in which she had been working. She is an entrepreneurial Chinese immigrant who has been able to follow her dream of being a beautician only after coming to the US. Her shop, In Touch Hair and Spa is in South Philly and mostly serves the local community.
BHEF has been working with Cherry throughout the semester, helped her craft her Kiva Zip profile and is looking forward to continuing to work with her on her website, business strategy, marketing, etc.
This has been a great experience for the students of BHEF, getting first hand knowledge of the challenges of small business, access to finance, and the immigrant experience.
If you would you like to help BHEF support Cherry in achieving her goals, consider becoming a member of Kiva Zip’s crowdfunding platform and make a zero interest loan to Cherry. You can find her page (and make a loan) here!
AND – Stay tuned for an announcement of HMFC’s first Trustee Endorsement, Aisha. Will post as soon as she gets through the private fund raising period with her own network.