Social impact has always been part of MPOWER Financing’s DNA. We’ve been a certified B (social benefit) corporation from day one, and our core product – an education loan for international and DACA students in the U.S. and Canada that requires no co-signer, no collateral, and no U.S. or Canadian credit score – is fully aligned with our mission to make socio-economic mobility borderless.
But thanks to a generous grant from Gray Matters Capital, we’re taking our social impact to the next level. In 2018, we used this grant to better understand the needs of our stakeholders – borrowers, investors, and partner universities – and to integrate these needs into a comprehensive social impact strategy with specific objectives and metrics.
In 2019, we’ll continue this momentum by:
Based on the input we received from our borrowers, investors, and partner universities, we developed the following social impact objectives:
We firmly believe in the adage “what gets measured, gets done,” so we created a suite of performance metrics for each social impact objective. While a single blog post isn’t enough to convey the full scope of our data collection and analysis efforts, here are a few highlights that we find particularly exciting:
Our CEO and Co-Founder, Manu Smadja, has made it clear that removing financial barriers, especially for women, is our top priority in 2019. While we are already proud of the fact that 45 percent of our borrowers are women, we’re going to be working hard to increase this percentage in 2019.
First, because it’s the right thing to do. World Bank research shows that the return on tertiary education for a woman in the developing world is significantly higher than the return on tertiary education for men, and this disparity is greatest in sub-Saharan Africa, one of MPOWER’s largest markets.
Second, it’s also great for our business. While we have very few defaults, making it hard to generalize a trend, directional data shows us that our default rate for our female borrowers is slightly less than that for our male borrowers. Female borrowers also have a lower cost of acquisition – at nearly every stage in our process, they have a higher conversion rate than their male counterparts. This may be because, as our borrower interviews seemed to indicate, women have fewer alternatives.
In the coming months, we’ll be rolling out new scholarships aimed at women, expanding our list of partner schools to include more schools with a high proportion of female students, and piloting a conversion campaign that will raise money for charities focused on female empowerment.
But women are not our only focus. We’ve also just launched new scholarships for Latin American and DACA students in partnership with La Unidad Latina Foundation, and we continue to offer our MPOWER Global Citizen Scholarships.
Our loans help build our students’ U.S. or Canadian credit history, which is the key to financial inclusion. But it also means that they are soon flooded with credit card offers. In 2019, we’ll be developing materials to help our students better understand the importance of maintaining a good credit score – and how to do so. We’ll develop training to help them with understanding key financial terms, sorting through their credit card offers and other financial options, and making informed consumer decisions.
In 2019, MPOWER will be expanding its Path2Success Program. We’ll be bringing in experts to advise our borrowers on financial literacy, career and job readiness, and job searching – not to mention sorting through our borrowers’ immigration options!
As you can see, MPOWER has an exciting year ahead. If you’re interested in joining forces to expand opportunities for international and DACA students, please complete fill out this form.
DISCLAIMER – Subject to credit approval, loans are made by Bank of Lake Mills or MPOWER Financing, PBC. Bank of Lake Mills does not have an ownership interest in MPOWER Financing. Neither MPOWER Financing nor Bank of Lake Mills is affiliated with the school you attended or are attending. Bank of Lake Mills is Member FDIC. None of the information contained in this website constitutes a recommendation, solicitation or offer by MPOWER Financing or its affiliates to buy or sell any securities or other financial instruments or other assets or provide any investment advice or service.
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