• Social Innovation Fellowship

Award Year 

Capital Good Fund: Group Lending in Providence

The Capital Good Fund (CGF) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization founded and run by Brown students with the mission of creating a poverty-free, inclusive green economy through innovative microfinance. CGF has challenged the traditional credit system by offering financially marginalized community members innovative loans to: start or expand small businesses, apply for United States citizenship, and improve credit through environmentally sustainable activities. Additionally, CGF offers financial literacy and business training workshops. Lending for almost a year now, CGF has already built a strong network of community partners and clients--and it has been exciting to be a part of this organization watch it develop and grow so quickly.

Right now, the CGF business loan for individual clients has not been a sustainable approach towards reaching the most low-income and financially marginalized borrowers. I will work this summer to develop and implement a group lending model for loans. The principle behind the group lending model was pioneered by the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize co-recipient, and the idea is that individuals--with the motivation and support of a group--are more likely to repay loans. Through this fellowship, I will: research how to adapt already existing and successful group-microlending models into Providence's unique context; tailor our marketing approach to effectively reach and inform the project's very low-income target market through collaboration with community partners; assemble focus groups consisting of community partners and potential borrowers to explore social needs and  gauge the loan's demand within the community; and, in collaboration with other community organizations, explore the potential for group lending to serve as a platform for other social services. This will help develop a sustainable and scalable approach toward extending credit and empowerment to low-income community members and in doing so increase the financial stability and upward mobility of Providence's most financially marginalized.


Personal Statement

I have always been passionate about economic and community development and its role in giving agency to those who have been structurally marginalized, though my thoughts on how to tackle ‘development’ have evolved significantly and, I am sure, will continue to evolve. My coursework at Brown and the classes I have taken thus far have impassioned me to examine bottom-up approaches to international community development through innovative channels, but I feel that I cannot approach community mobilization abroad without reflecting on it here at home. The Capital Good Fund has allowed me to work with our Providence community directly and understand the problems of poor credit and job insecurity more intimately here in America—and I have been so grateful of this experience, especially as a student plagued with living in the ‘Brown bubble’ of academia and who is afraid of being detached from the community that we live in. My experience as a loan officer for CGF this year has opened me to opportunities to meet those often overlooked in our community, and I feel privileged, humbled, and inspired to continue this work over the summer and beyond with the Starr Fellowship.