Center for Community Service-Learning

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The San Diego Microenterprise Project (SDMP)

Goal

The goal of the SDMP is to promote economic recovery, encourage experiential learning, and support community development.

What is microfinance?

Microfinance is the practice of extending small loans to individual borrowers who have been traditionally denied access to credit. Over the past decade, microfinance has become one of the most popular anti-poverty strategies in the world. Microlenders help low-income individuals start or expand businesses.

When people can't find work, they create tiny business or "microenteprises" to support their families. Microenterprise businesses can include making jewelry, selling clothes, or making food.Yet with little or no capital to grow their businesses, the entrepreneurial poor remain trapped in a cycle of poverty. To keep their businesses open, many borrow from loan sharks or pay higher prices to get goods on credit. What they need to break free is access to financial services, which is where microfinance comes into play. Microfinance offers an alternative to loan sharks by providing loans with low interest rates. Many microfinance lenders also provide loan recipients with a network of support to help them successfully grow their business.

Funding to the University of San Diego from California Campus Compact

Social Innovation Generation is California Campus Compact’s three-year initiative funded through Learn and Serve America Higher Education. This initiative will catalyze and mobilize California colleges and universities to aid in the state’s recovery and renewal through service, service-learning and inventive solutions embedded in social entrepreneurship, microfinance and social investment. Grant funds cover the operational costs of this program and are not used for loans.

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Spotlight

Dora

My business is in construction. I have a general contractor’s license. The construction business is really bad at this moment, especially for minorities. I had to find a way to get free publicity for my business to get more jobs.

The microfinance grant I received went towards advertising and getting incorporated so I can bid for bigger jobs. I purchased newspaper and Internet ads, which gave me several leads. I also identified someone I can go into business with and we should be incorporated by next month.

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