HMFC, the student run Haverford MicroFinance Consulting, has been working for the past two years with Kiva Zip, an online crowdfunding platform for zero interest loans to small businesses. Last year, in its role as a Kiva Zip trustee, HMFC endorsed Aisha of Miss Mahogany, an accessory and home decorations boutique in the 60th Street Corridor in West Philly. HMFC helped her to post her Kiva Zip profile and fund her loan. (Thanks again to those HC students, alums and friends who participated in that loan!).
In April, with the semester coming to a close and no potential borrowers to endorse as a trustee, HMFC decided to focus its attention on raising awareness of Kiva Zip and access to finance issues by having a bake sale – and using the funds to loan to a local business on Kiva Zip’s website. They headed to the kitchen and thanks to their combined talents of Rebekah Fussell ’19, Steve Lehman ’19, Ian McGroarty ’17, Andrew Nguyen ’19, and Kerry Rodriguez ’18 produced an appealing stack of brownies, Rice Krispie treats and homemade Chinese Fortune cookies filled with catchy financial literacy lessons such as “Pay your IRA before your IPA!” Admittedly, our homemade fortune cookies may not have looked professional, but they tasted good and served their purpose.
The students set up shop at the DC at dinner time and those who bought the baked goods were able to vote for one of three businesses seeking a loan.
By the time Steph Lukaz ’19 arrived for the second shift the cookies were almost all gone. “We sold out way before we predicted,” Steph said. She added, that this
“speaks well to the character of Haverford students and the growing interest in impact investing to generate significant social impact. Impact investing has the potential to alter the way people choose to deploy money. Perhaps we should not be surprised at the interest of Haverford students in contributing to the cause even, if it’s as little as investing in a cookie.”
Since the organic farm that garnered the most votes was already fully funded by the next day and there were no other comparable loan seekers, the group had to make a decision: honor the sector that received the most votes (sustainable foods) or honor the focus on a local borrower.
The students decided on the latter and then voted to fund a Philadelphia NGO that is working with returnees, men who had been released from prison and were integrating back into society (TIIAI.Org ). They were very impressed with TIIAI’s mission as well as its proposed use of the loan. TIIAI has created a pair of books to sell for fundraising. By using the loan to print higher volumes, TIIAI can reduce the average cost and increase the funds raised on each book to support their programming.
Congratulations to TIIAI. We wish them success with their book sales and with their programming in the community.
And, kudos to HMFC for helping to engage the Haverford community in what will be a gift that keeps on giving. In two years, TIIAI is expected to have paid off its loan and these funds can be redeployed to help another NGO or social entrepreneur.