Around the nation, community development financial institutions (CDFIs) have grown in number and importance. At the forefront of that trend are student-run microfinance initiatives affiliated with colleges and universities.
We want Indiana University to be a nationally and internationally recognized leader in this field. So we transformed the traditional microfinance model into an economic development model with an integrated approach to business development that combines microfinance lending with the business education and training necessary to build sustainable, thriving businesses.
Ours is a dual-development model, in which HSIF members and clients learn and grow together. Our clients benefit from our efforts, and we benefit from the opportunities for learning and professional development that come from working with HSIF and its clients. Our students work in their own local communities, and in other communities that offer opportunities for cross-cultural learning.
It all began in 2013, when Keith Dayton (Senior Lecturer at IU’s Kelley School of Business) approached Kathleen Robbins and Molly Barwick (Co-Directors of the Kelley Institute for Social Impact) and Tim Lemper (Clinical Professor at Kelley) with the idea to create a CDFI run by IU students, faculty, staff, and alumni. They began to sketch out an idea for an organization that might partner with local businesses, community organizations, IU programs and academic units, and IU student organizations.
In Spring 2014, Professors Dayton and Lemper developed an experimental course -- Kelley LEADS (Law, Ethics, And Decision-making Strategies) -- tasked with conceiving and creating the non-profit organization. The class (three MBA students, 23 undergraduate business students, and one graduate student in public affairs) conceived and created HSIF. They met with IU faculty, administrators, marketing personnel, legal counsel, and development staff. They discussed partnerships with non-profit organizations and IU programs, including Kelley’s Institute for International Business, Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER), Lend for America, AMPATH’s Family Preservation Initiative in Kenya, 7 Elements in the Dominican Republic, Local First Bloomington Inc., Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, City of Bloomington, and local financial institutions.
In February 2014, the students drafted and approved HSIF's Articles of Incorporation, created HSIF as an Indiana non-profit corporation, obtained an employer identification number from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, and created the Kelley Empowerment Fund as an IU student organization to support HSIF’s mission and operations.
In April 2014, the students launched HSIF’s Internet website, applied for tax-exempt status for HSIF under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and met with the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce and representatives from local financial institutions to discuss possible partnerships with HSIF.
In May 2014, HSIF members traveled to the Dominican Republic to visit 7 Elements, a non-profit organization that works with the Haitian immigrant population, to discuss a sustainable economic development program there. They met potential clients, including a group of women from a cacao farming community that had obtained a government loan to finance the production of organic chocolate. HSIF agreed to offer business training to the group as they began to manufacture, distribute, and sell their products.
On May 23, 2014, the IU Credit Union became HSIF’s first donor. John Miller and Sarah Rogers, both Vice Presidents for Business Services at the IU Credit Union, assisted the students in developing HSIF’s loan policies and identifying potential clients.
On June 13, 2014, HSIF made its first loan to Henry Holsters LLC, a manufacturer of safety equipment for police and military personnel. The business, started in 2008, is owned by Andrew Henry (an IU alumni) and is located in Solsberry, Indiana.
As we continue to build a solid foundation for the Hoosier Social Impact Fund, we look forward to exploring new partnerships, programs, and practices to make significant, positive impacts on our communities.
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