A group of Upper School students combined business and real-world experience at the inaugural William Penn Charter School Microfinance Conference Saturday, Feb. 2, a learning opportunity that evolved from Penn Charter’s Microfinance Club.

The two-year-old club has been exploring international and local microfinance, fundraising through schoolwide activities and making loans to entrepreneurs through Kiva.org.

students and adults sit at tables listening to a speaker in Penn Charter's Gummere Library

In addition to Penn Charter club members, the conference included students from the Plymouth Whitemarsh Microfinance Club, as well as students from Wissahickon High School and Germantown Academy who are interested in learning more about microfinance.

Students heard from David Rose of Sally Blagg LLC about how to connect with and support local businesses in Philadelphia. Rose led an interactive discussion about the history of Germantown businesses and shared his insights on the significant number of citizens who lack access to capital.

In addition, students heard from Vibhav Jagwani and Brandon Cohen from the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Microfinance Club, who shared their experiences and work at the university level.

The conference concluded with a discussion about a cross-school project to support local entrepreneurs and small businesses in Philadelphia, helping them gather the resources necessary to start and sustain local businesses that will benefit their community.