Campus Microfinance Alliance Helps Students Boost Local Economies

The Campus Microfinance Alliance, a coalition of student-run microfinance groups, recently launched a new campaign to spur job growth for budding entrepreneurs by giving microloans to students starting small businesses.

The Campus Microfinance Alliance (CMA) allows students to apply to the "Lend for America" program.

The program takes form as an eight-week summer internship program devoted to educating accepted students about microfinance, underwriting loans, building credit, fundraising and helps them to develop their own MFI (Microfinance Institution), according to its website.

"We believe college students have creativity and imagination," Vanessa Carter, director of CMA, told the Boston Herald. "We believe in their potential as young leaders."

When the summer ends, students are on their own. By beginning their own campus MFIs, students of the program both create jobs for themselves and revitalize urban economies by offering capital and resources to small business owners in their communities.

Gaurav Kikani, who will graduate from Northwestern University in 2014, founded LEND (Lending for Evanston and Northwestern Development) in February of 2010 with the help of "Lend for America." "LEND is instituting positive social change right where it should start, in our local community," Kikani told "Lend for America."

The start-up nonprofit fights poverty in Evanston, Ill. through its business training program for local low-income entrepreneurs. Its motto is "Empowering entrepreneurs, uplifting communities."

Most importantly, the program isn't an office internship -- students "deal with real businesses and real money. [They] are part of creating solutions to help recreate and realize the American Dream," Carter told the Boston Herald.

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