This year six students from the Haverford Microfinance Consulting attended the annual Lend for America Conference (LFA) an event to bring together campus microfinance institutions across the US. This year’s event was hosted by Georgetown University and more than ** difference campus MFI organizations participated.
Shan Shan (’17), current co-director of HMFC had this to say about her experiences:
The conference kicked off with opening remarks by Katherine Lynch, the New York City Program Lead of Kiva Zip. While HMFC is already participating in Kiva Zip, I had not realized the variety of programs Kiva Zip and the Tier System offered to its trustees. Ms. Lynch also talked about the challenges Kiva Zip faces as it continues to expand. She was excited to announce the launch of a new Kiva City in December, New York City (Yes, Philly was first!).
One of the most interesting sessions I attended focused on international microfinance with panelists Kilee Bomgardner (Francis Fund, Saint Francis University) and Adam Davis (Yale’s Elmseed Enterprise Fund). While I had learned about international microfinance in Professor Mudd’s course, I was not aware that campus MFI’s were engaged in this type of microfinance. The panel was both helpful and inspiring. Kilee talked about how to select clients, do financial analysis, and deliver loans in a foreign country and Adam spoke about the differences and similarities between domestic microfinance and international microfinance. Although it is unlikely for HMFC to pivot toward working with clients in foreign countries in the next one or two years, expanding services outside the United States could be both challenging and rewarding.
Not only was I able to learn from sessions led by others, but my HFMC co-director Ian McGroarty and I presented our own work with the Mapping Microfinance Project last summer (see Phillymap). The Lend for American conference provided a great opportunity to encourage other campus microfinance institutions to initiate projects to map small business services in their own areas as we did. The presentation went will with Ian introducing the project while I answered questions raised by the audiences. We received a lot of valuable feedback and several other campus microfinance institutions expressed interests in starting their own mapping projects.
Overall, the LFA conference was a fun and valuable experience and I appreciate both Mi3 for sponsoring my trip and student activities for funding it. I am looking forward to more opportunities to connect with other campus microfinance institutions in the future.