research assistant, Lend for America

Posted on August 05, 2013

Lend for America is seeking a graduate student to lead a comprehensive study on selected innovations developed by campus microfinance institutions. This project is made possible by Citi Community Development and has the goal to share innovations and knowledge in the asset building and microenterprise development fields.

Background on Campus MFI Innovations

Since 2001, students across the U.S. have launched campus microfinance institutions, or “Campus MFIs,” to offer equitable financial services to underserved communities next to college campuses. These Campus MFIs are laboratories of innovation, using low-cost labor and a fresh perspective to tackle the challenges faced by under-banked Americans.

There are several key examples of innovative business models, loan products, and systems that students have developed to build their capacity. For example, The Intersect Fund, founded by students at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, created a web-based underwriting system that allows loan officers to accept loan applications online while analysts simultaneously use the system to determine pre-approval. The Community Empowerment Fund (CEF) founded and led by students at University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill developed a partnership with Self-Help Credit Union to open savings accounts and accept deposits remotely at CEF’s office and local shelters. The accounts have a 48-hour hold time on withdrawals in order to prevent impulsive spending by account owners.

Project Scope

Through research and analysis, the project will document the innovation and recent outcomes, how founders identified the need, and explore the potential for replication. We envision a student or team of students completing the following deliverables:

1) Selection of 2-3 innovations based on potential to add value to the network of Campus MFIs and the microenterprise development industry

2) Research and analysis of how each innovation is working within an organization’s business model. This research should explore recent outcomes data from organizations where innovations have been implemented.

3) Research and recommendations for replicating selected innovations

4) Publication documenting results of research

Lend for America helps student leaders to build their communities through the creation of campus microfinance institutions (Campus MFIs). Our national platform supports students practicing microfinance in the U.S. by providing training, networking, funding, and research. Further information about Lend for America can be found by visiting our website, www.lendforamerica.org

Contact

Interested entities are encouraged to contact Vanessa Carter at Vanessa@lendforamerica.org with a cover letter to express interest no later than August 15, 2013. Please include a writing sample.


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