Fords Create A Microfinance Map for Philadelphia
This summer, three Haverford students created a map for the greater Philadelphia region that helps small business owners locate microfinance-related resources in the city.
Microfinance is the provision of financial products, such as microloans, to people in poverty, and it has garnered a lot of attention across the globe in the last decade. At Haverford, students from the economics department have been involved in related initiatives via the Microfinance and Impact Investing Initiative (Mi3), including the Mapping Microfinance Project (MMP) for Philadelphia, which was created this summer by Ian McGroarty ’17, Shan Shan ’17, and Noah Weinstein ’18.
“MMP does not really work with small businesses, but for small businesses,” says McGroarty. “MMP creates resources, like maps, for small businesses to use.”
There are two parts to the MMP. The first, which was started in 2012 and is still ongoing, comprises a study of factors that influence where microfinance organizations exist in Uganda, the Philippines, and Mexico. The second, which was completed this summer, is domestically focused, providing small business owners in Philadelphia with an online database to find local microfinance-related resources and organizations, such as consulting or loan services. Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics Shannon Mudd recommended the latter project to McGroarty and Shan and received funding from the Mi3 program to help start MMP in Philadelphia.
“[Mudd] has been tremendous help,” says McGroarty. “He helped us reach out to business owners and gather information about what resources to put on the map.”
McGroarty, Shan, and Weinstein worked on campus on the Philadelphia microfinance map all summer. While the nascent project already has a working map, the team is still trying to make it more functional and easier to use. Apart from Mudd, they are supported by Laurie Allen and Mike Zarafonetis, digital scholarship librarians in Magill Library.
McGroarty, who is an economics major with a concentration in math, and Shan, who declared a double major in economics and psychology, are also executive directors of Haverford Microfinance Consulting (HMFC), which backed its first borrower back in June.
Both HMFC and MMP aim to promote small businesses in the greater Philadelphia area. HMFC is also a trustee of Kiva Zip, the world’s largest micro-lending website, in Philadelphia. While HMFC works directly with small business owners and seeks to provide consulting services, MMP is more of an online resource that any user can access.
Looking towards the future, Shan and McGroarty hope to merge HMFC and MMP into one club so that they can combine resources in order to better serve the needs of small businesses in the area.
“I hope that we are able to spread the MMP and make it a commonly used resource, because it is very helpful,” says McGroarty. “I hope that we can make it well known, and [show] people know how to use it.”
—Hina Fathima ’15