Loyola students use microfinance to help local entrepreneurs with support from OneMain Financial
Loyola University Maryland undergraduate students in the Sellinger School of Business and the College of Arts & Sciences have been working on a microfinance program, the York Road Microfinance Initiative, which provides business consulting services and encourages microfinancing options in the local community. The program—made possible through the support of OneMain Financial and a strategic partnership with Kiva, a nonprofit micro-lending website—allows students to partner with local business owners along the York Road corridor to offer consulting services in business strategy and underwrite microloans to those businesses.
Loyola students were tasked with forming and nurturing partnerships with business owners to address problems these owners face. To address some of these issues, students developed digital inventory systems, arranged launch parties, and helped to spread awareness of the fresh produce available at local stores. To assist the business owners in implementing the opportunities identified through the consulting phase, the students worked to help the businesses obtain microloans, typically small amounts of money lent for relatively short terms. Loyola facilitated the loan program through Kiva Baltimore with OneMain Financial’s grant. This program could spread beyond York Road to the larger Baltimore community in future years.
Support from OneMain Financial and a strategic partnership with Kiva Baltimore—the newest of the Kiva Cities—has allowed the microfinance pilot to be unique in scope. Loyola University Maryland, together with OneMain Financial, sponsored the launch of Kiva Baltimore because of their shared interest in the platform Kiva provides community entrepreneurs.
Abdulsamad "Abdu" Almabari, owner of Rossiter Corner Store and the Govans Deli, is one of the entrepreneurs partnering with the Sellinger School. Students recently helped fund the opening of Govans Deli with a $5,000 microloan through Kiva with OneMain Financial’s gift, allowing Abdu to refinance his current loans, some of which carry an excess of 10% interest, that were used to purchase refrigerators, ovens and other kitchen equipment.
"Our students’ contribution to community development emphasizes the crucial role business has in society,” said Kathleen Getz, Ph.D., dean of the Sellinger School. “Contemporary business schools must develop true partnerships with the business community to promote positive social impact. The collaboration among our faculty, students, and businesses on York Road, the vision and support of OneMain Financial, and organizations like Kiva are what leads to sustainable economic and social development in our city."
The project benefits the community along the York Road corridor by helping to ease some of the burdens created by the absence of comprehensive grocery stores. Students gain a practical and meaningful business experience by demonstrating the capacity of business to contribute to community well-being.
“Our partnership with Loyola University Maryland and Kiva Baltimore supports our goal to strengthen the social and economic vitality of our communities,” said Trish Weaver, OneMain Philanthropy director. “We’re proud to support an initiative that gives students valuable experience while benefiting small business owners in Baltimore.”
Members of the student team working on the pilot project are Aaron Davis, ’18 (business economics); Alexis Fox, ’18 (liberal arts economics); Tommy Gensinger, ’18 (accounting); Joseph Patron, ’18 (finance); and Zach Russo, '18 (finance). The student team is advised by J.P. Krahel, Ph.D., assistant professor of accounting, and Srikanth Ramamurthy, Ph.D., associate professor of economics.
About the York Road Initiative
The mission of the York Road Initiative is to collaborate with neighbors and partners to produce positive change in our local community—specifically, the Greater Govans neighborhoods of north Baltimore City, from Cold Spring Lane (which borders our Evergreen campus) to Northern Parkway (near the Loyola Clinical Centers at Belvedere Square). In keeping with Loyola’s Jesuit mission, the initiative focuses on the educational development, health, and well-being of community residents, as well as the economic vitality of local businesses.