Sellinger students pilot microfinance program with support from OneMain Financial
Loyola University Maryland undergraduate students in the Sellinger School of Business have been working on a pilot program that provides business consulting services and will encourage microfinancing options in the local community. The program, made possible through the support of OneMain Financial, partners students with local business owners along the York Road corridor to offer residents access to healthy foods.
In 2015 Loyola launched the FreshCrate initiative, an effort to extend and promote fresh produce options at corner stores, with businesses near the Evergreen campus. FreshCrate is made possible by a grant from the United Way of Central Maryland and supported by the Govans Business Association and the York Road Partnership.
The student project aims to advance FreshCrate towards a sustainable model for the local businesses. Sellinger students and faculty are working over a two-year time period to provide business consulting services to three local corner stores that are part of the FreshCrate initiative. Phase one of the project during 2015-2016 academic year connected the student group with business owners for consulting work in offering fresh produce, identifying challenges in supply chain, capacity, capital, demand, and pricing. Phase two of the project, which will commence during the 2016-17 academic year, will introduce the microfinance aspect to the project.
"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 is an encouraging step toward sustainable economic and health development along the corridor."
Support from OneMain Financial will allow the microfinance pilot to be unique in scope. Microloans commonly involve small monetary amounts and have a global focus. The microloans in the Sellinger student-led pilot project will go to local to York Road businesses to help address the opportunities identified during the consulting phase.
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.
Members of the student team working on the pilot project are Aaron Davis,’18 (economics); Alexis Fox,’18 (economics); Tommy Gensinger,’18 (accounting); Mary Kallab,’17 (finance); Jon Lim, ’17 (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.