MPOWER’s Social Impact
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”
MPOWER Financing is a Public Benefit Corporation, which means we are dedicated to making a positive impact in the world in addition to accomplishing our financial and strategic goals.
Founded by, and comprised of, a dedicated group of global citizens, our team is passionate about ‘empowering’ international students to become global citizens and future leaders in business, government, and their community.
Social Impact isn’t just a pillar of our business—it’s the core of our business.
One loan at a time, we’re expanding the U.S. and Canadian higher education market to serve more of the planet’s highest-potential individuals, regardless of income, family background, or gender. In the process, we’re enabling tomorrow’s doctors, lawyers, scientists, engineers, and business and government leaders to realize their full potential and make powerful contributions to the U.S. and Canadian economies–as well as emerging markets around the world.
How do we do this? By making credit decisions using a forward-looking model centered on these students’ extraordinary potential rather than the traditional backward-looking model that requires an established U.S. credit history, collateral, and a co-signer–all things that our international clients typically don’t have. We also complement our core focus on lending with scholarship, mentoring, and career placement programs for our students.
I know how important this mission is because I was once a struggling international student myself. You can read more about my story—and the story of MPOWER’s founder, Mike, whose family arrived as political refugees from Iran—on the About Us page.
This page, however, is devoted to telling the powerful stories of our extraordinary borrowers.
Measuring Our Social Impact.
We’re excited to release our first social impact report, which uses data, case studies, and more to highlight a few key findings, especially as related to gender equity and financial inclusion:
- No-cosigner loans enhance geographic and socioeconomic diversity on university campuses.
- No-cosigner loans enhance the financial independence of women from emerging markets, leading to increased access to higher education.
- Investing in women’s education is good business; MPOWER’s female loan applicants are more likely to complete the application process than their male counterparts.
- DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) students are a key underserved market.
- Small monthly payments on education loans can quickly build immigrants’ credit, and education loans can serve as an entry point to the broader financial system.
Our current social impact initiatives:
We provide support letters to borrowers, which enables them to proceed with their student visa application. We also provide immigration resources to help students during and after school obtain employment opportunities in the U.S. Learn More
We facilitate a peer-to-peer mentoring network that allows 2nd-year graduate students to mentor 1st-year graduate students on their career preparation (and in the process build valuable mentoring/coaching skills). Learn More
Stories from our borrowers
“How MPOWER eMPOWERed Me!”
We’re inspired by our borrowers as they share how our loan product is making a positive impact on their academic and professional lives, in two minutes or less!
Listen to what MPOWER borrower Sol Bee, a remarkable South Korean UC Berkeley student and our MPOWER Video Contest winner, has to say.
Sumei worked as a technical support specialist for Citibank in Shanghai, but the opportunity to improve her English and “see the world” led her to an au pair position in New York City. She later decided to pursue a Master’s degree in computer science in the U.S. but found her savings woefully inadequate. MPOWER came through with a loan, and Sumei now has a great internship as a software engineer! Read moreSumei X.
Born in Libya to Czech and Slovak parents, and raised in Malta, Simona is the epitome of a global citizen – and her career, which has included setting up Maltese operations for a Czech start-up, reflects that. Faced with a funding shortfall that imperiled completion of her degree, Simona turned to MPOWER. Now, she’s on track to graduate and pursue a career in healthcare. Read moreSimona S.
When Srijan started his degree program at Stevens Institute of Technology, financial struggles—and worries about burdening his family—kept Srijan up at night. Now, with MPOWER’s help, he’s finishing his degree and starting a great job in financial services. And instead of burdening his parents, his job will enable them to retire early! Read moreSrijan B.
When Kayleigh realized that a Master’s in the U.S. would cost four times her undergraduate degree in South Africa she didn’t know how she would pay for it. But then she came across MPOWER. Now, she’s a computational biologist at the world’s largest private cancer center, devising ways to make cancer treatments safer, particularly for children.
Jiangsu, China | Boston University
Originally from Jiangsu, Sumei came to Shanghai to attend college. She studied computer science and worked diligently to improve her English, but says she was “extremely shy” and lacked confidence.
After college, she took a job as a technical support specialist for Citibank, but she found herself restless for an opportunity to “see the world.” When she learned about the au pair program, she jumped at the opportunity, believing it would help her improve her English, learn about American culture, and gain self-confidence. (The au pair program is a U.S. government program that grants visas to foreign nationals who are placed with American families to provide childcare while learning about U.S. culture and customs.)
Sumei was surprised by some of the challenges she encountered as an au pair. “I thought my English was pretty good,” she said, “and it was—by Chinese standards. But while I could read and write it fairly well, speaking was a real challenge. Beyond the language itself, there’s also a big difference in communication styles. Chinese people tend to be more indirect, while Americans are more straightforward. It took me a while to adjust.”
Working as an au pair also gave her a taste of the American educational system. “I was so impressed by the projects that the children I worked with did at school. Unlike in China, their schooling focused on critical thinking, not rote memorization.”
That experience inspired Sumei to continue her education in the U.S. When she received the news that she had been accepted to the Master of Computer Science program at Boston University, Sumei was elated. However, she soon realized her savings were woefully inadequate. She considered applying for a loan from a Chinese bank, but there were no Chinese banks willing to lend without a mortgage on her parents’ house. She was also reluctant to ask her parents for help.
Fortunately, her online research quickly led her to MPOWER and, as a result, she was able to cover her funding shortfall. Sumei doesn’t know just what the future will bring, but it’s already looking bright. She has a great software engineering internship lined up this summer, and she’s hopeful this will turn into a full-time job offer. Her time in the U.S. has provided other dividends as well. “One of the goals I set for myself when I first arrived was to gain self-confidence,” she said, “and I definitely have. Now I’m comfortable speaking in English with a wide variety of people. I’m so grateful for all of the new experiences I’ve had, and I’ve learned so much about myself and about the world.”
Calcutta, India | Stevens Institute of Technology
Srijan started his career as a programmer/analyst at a multinational IT firm in India. It was a good job by Indian standards, but he soon found himself frustrated. “I was working on just a small little section of code at a time,” he recalls, “but I never had a chance to understand how my code would affect the business as a whole. So, I decided to come to the U.S. and get a master’s degree that would allow me to improve my technical skills and gain a thorough understanding of business process management.”
He decided on the Master of Science in Information Systems at the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey, but was concerned about the cost. “I had some assistance from my parents and my student loan back in India, and I also secured a paid internship at the New York City Department of Finance, which not only helped with day-to-day expenditures, but was also a dream come true!” Srijan says. “But the impending semester fees were still keeping me up at night.
Then he came across MPOWER’s website. “I was so relieved,” he remembers. “MPOWER was the only company that was willing to provide a loan without collateral, which was so important to me, since I didn’t want to rely on family.”
Now, Srijan is sleeping much better at night. “My MPOWER loan solved my financial troubles,” he says, “and enabled me to focus on my studies.”
His degree enabled him to get a job in his field, as a business analyst for MarketAccess, a financial services company that focuses on bond trading. Srijan is particularly excited about the firm’s “social initiatives, which seek to create long term value for both its stakeholders and the society in general. As a Business Analyst at MarketAxess, I hope to collaborate with the IT and Business side of the company and enable them build the technology needed to fuel these endeavors.”
Srijan expects his MPOWER-financed degree to yield long-term benefits. “My job will enable me not only to pay off my loans, but also to allow my parents to retire early. Ten years from now, I see myself working in an executive level partner/ position in a company that works towards creating an impact in people’s lives through technology. It is what drew me towards my internship as well, where I do work that directly benefits millions of people living in the city of New York.”
“For me,” he says, “my sense of personal fulfillment stems from my desire to help people collaborate and achieve their goals. I hope that the experience and skills that I pick up along the way will help me achieve that.”
Malta | MBA, California State University, Long Beach (CSULB)
Born in Libya to Czech and Slovak parents, and raised in Malta, Simona is the epitome of a global citizen – and her career reflects that.
Simona began her career as a marketing executive for a local importer and distributor for Porsche, Audi, and VW; part of her job was to organize “super cool product launches.” Later, she put her cross-culture and language skills to use for a Czech start-up looking to expand in Malta, setting up their Maltese operations in just three months!
But she soon realized she needed an MBA to take her career to the next level, and she decided that she really wanted to do an MBA program in the U.S. “I was intrigued by the slightly different educational system and way of life,” she recalls, “and I fell in love with California and the American dream.”
She was elated to have the opportunity to live her dream in California when she was accepted by CSULB. But while she was initially able to finance her degree with her hard-earned savings, Simona soon found that she had a funding shortfall.
As a result, Simona faced the daunting task of securing a student loan. She soon realized that she would have to “get on board with the credit thing” if she wanted to stay in the U.S. and finish her degree. “It was a new concept to me,” she said. “Education loans aren’t common in Malta, and I’d never applied for a loan before.”
She was surprised to find that lenders in the U.S. required a co-signer. She was reluctant to involve her parents and was therefore relieved when her research led her to MPOWER.
“I was very happy with MPOWER’s level of service, their ability to answer my questions, and their transparency, and I was all set to proceed. But, as life would have it, CSULB wasn’t on their list of partner schools. Rather than giving up, though, I saw this as a challenge. I initiated talks between my school’s financial aid office and MPOWER, and lo and behold, here we are today! CSULB is now an MPOWER partner school—proof that persistence pays off.”
After completing her MBA, she hopes to work at the intersection of marketing, management, and business development in the healthcare field, possibly in a role that incorporates corporate social responsibility. “I come from a family of medical practitioners,” she said, “and I find the business, operational, regulatory, and research and development aspects of the industry really fascinating.”
Her advice to other international students is that “Limits are of our own construct, and obstacles are only such if you look at them that way. They are challenges to be overcome and they enable us to grow, so soldier on, because the world is limitless. In the end it’s always worth it and you can make it anywhere if you believe in yourself!”
Cape Town, South Africa | Boston University
At her all-girls school in Cape Town, Kayleigh wasn’t exposed to computer science, so it was a surprise when her college advisor recommended that she take a course. But even more surprising was that she grew to love it.
She eventually merged her newfound love of computer science with her longtime interest in genetics, earning an honors degree in Bioinformatics form the University of Cape Town. Kayleigh then accepted a job in clinical research, but she soon realized that her prospects were very limited. “Science just isn’t a priority in South Africa,” she says.
Kayleigh decided she wanted to get exposure to the cutting-edge bioinformatics research in the U.S. by pursuing an advanced degree there—but when she looked into the cost, she got sticker shock.
“One year of tuition in a U.S. Master’s program was more than four times the cost of my entire undergraduate education in South Africa!” she recalls. “I couldn’t ask that of my parents, who were about to retire. I received a $10,000 scholarship from Boston University, which was my top choice due to their strong industry orientation, and that helped. But I still had a big gap, and that’s where MPOWER came in. They really helped me through what could have been a very stressful process, even providing the visa support letter I needed.”
MPOWER’s loan enabled Kayleigh to pursue her educational goals—and that education has provided a boost to her career even greater than she imagined. A few months after arriving in Boston, she secured a coveted four-month internship at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where she analyzed the results of genomic research on ALS and other diseases.
This internship yielded a full-time job offer—her “dream job”–after she received her Master of Science in Bioinformatics from Boston University in May 2017, graduating summa cum laude.
A year later, when her boyfriend—who had received an MPOWER loan to pursue an Master of International Business at Tufts University—got a job in New York, Kayleigh made a move of her own. She’s now a computational biologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the largest and oldest private cancer center in the world, studying mutations in cancer that are acquired over time rather than inherited. Her research has important implications for improving surveillance protocols to monitor the risk of secondary disease after cancer therapy, particularly for children.
“My MPOWER-financed degree opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me,” she says. “I’m excited to see what the future holds.”